Parliamentary award for disability rights work

16 September 2021

  • Roberta Kirosingh wins prestigious Parliament’s People Award
  • She has worked tirelessly in raising the profile of disability issues 
  • Judging panel included Speaker of the House and the Lord Speaker
  • Roberta vital in running the All Party Parliamentary Group for Disability

WBS research assistant Roberta Kirosingh has won a Parliamentary Staffer of the Year prize at the Parliament’s People Awards.

Roberta (pictured) works with Kim Hoque, Professor of Human Resource Management, in Dr Lisa Cameron MP’s Parliamentary office in Westminster and helps run the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Disability, for which WBS co-provides the secretariat alongside Disability Rights UK

Professor Hoque has worked closely with Dr Cameron through his research on closing the disability employment gap, co-authoring an influential report and pressing the UK Government to introduce mandatory employment and pay gap reporting for disabled workers.

The Parliament’s People Awards are made on an annual basis to promote and recognise the valuable role played by individuals working behind the scenes for Parliamentarians and the House of Commons.

The winners were chosen by a panel of judges comprising a cross-party group of MPs, peers, journalists and entrepreneurs, including the Speaker of the House of Commons and Lord Speaker of the House of Lords.

As well as winning the Parliamentary Staffer of the Year award, Roberta was also shortlisted for the Diversity & Inclusion Award. She was the only person shortlisted for two awards.

A statement on Roberta from the Parliament’s People Awards said: “Roberta is the secretariat for the APPG for Disability. Roberta’s central role in co-ordinating cross-party efforts for various causes has benefited MPs and peers across parliament.

“From making the House more accessible to disabled people and women, to co-ordinating the largest equalities-based open letter to the Prime Minister, Roberta’s commitments have elevated the profile of disability in parliament as well as across other sectors.

“Responsible for introducing mentoring onto the agenda for parliamentarians, Roberta successfully signed up over 100 MPs for National Mentoring Week, enabling more than 100 young people from underrepresented backgrounds to receive an invaluable mentoring experience in the hope of encouraging them into politics. Roberta's work reflects her belief that we must lead by example, elevating the profile of disability in parliament and disability issues across other sectors.”

Recently, Roberta has increased the parliamentary membership of the APPG for Disability to 198 and has organised meetings and events on various topics including on accessible transport (with Chris Heaton Harris MP, Minister of State for Transport); the Government’s Disability Confident scheme (with Justin Tomlinson MP, Minister for Disabled People); the National Disability Strategy; and disability in the media.

She has also helped submit numerous 'early day motions', secured several Westminster Hall and main chamber debates (for example on a Disability Inclusive COVID-19 Response and Accessible Education), and assisted in the submission of a large number of both written and oral parliamentary questions.

Additionally, she has played an invaluable role in delivering the school's impact and engagement agenda, having helped organise a series of meetings in the lead-up to the publication of the Government’s National Disability Strategy to enable Professor Hoque to discuss the policy proposals stemming from his research with the Minister for Disabled People, as well as with key officials at the Cabinet Office Disability Unit and the Department of Work and Pensions.

Professor Hoque said: “Roberta is a fantastically talented individual who is highly passionate about improving the lives of disabled people, and I am extremely fortunate to have the privilege of working with her.

"All of her tireless efforts in growing the APPG’s Parliamentary membership, and expanding the group’s influence with key ministers and officials, have massively raised the profile of WBS across Westminster.

“There is no way my research would have had the impact it has had without her efforts to secure meetings with the Minister for Disabled People, key Whitehall officials, and with the APPG’s wider parliamentary membership.”

Dr Cameron, Chair of the APPG for Disability, added: “Roberta’s contribution to the APPG has been nothing short of stellar. She has taken the APPG to new heights both inside parliament and beyond, and her efforts have helped ensure the APPG is now at the heart of disability policy development.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank WBS and the University of Warwick for their ongoing support for the APPG, and in particular for co-providing the APPG’s secretariat. This support is so important in helping our efforts, in collaboration with Professor Hoque, to develop innovative policy proposals aimed at improving the working lives of disabled people in the UK, and to press the Government to implement these proposals.”

Ram Gopal, Pro Dean (Research, Engagement, and Impact) and Professor of Information Systems Management said: “WBS is pleased with the engagement of Professor Hoque in this important initiative which is well aligned with the school’s research strategy and efforts to enhance the impact of our research on broader society.

"Much more needs to be done to enhance the quality of life and work for disabled people, and we look forward to furthering engagement and efforts to impact practice and policy.”

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