Toby Hewson who founded Sussex-based charity JustDifferent in 2008 has been listed as one of the Top 100 Inspirational People in Sussex by regional magazine ETC, part of the JPIMedia Group. After experiencing difficulties in being accepted in the workplace, he vowed to set up an organisation that not only helped to educate young people on the important area of understanding disability and difference – but to create opportunities at the same time for disabled people to work and progress in meaningful careers. It launches a significant year for Toby as he marries his fiancée Helen in July.
For a decade JustDifferent has been offering educational disability awareness workshops, made more impactful because they are written and created by people with disabilities.
The charity offers these subsidised workshops to schools and has received hundreds of appreciative letters from School Heads and staff talking about how much these interactive disability awareness workshops have made a difference.
Toby’s motivation has always been to enable young people to accept disability and difference enabling everyone to work and socialise together and for disabled people to participate fully in society. Toby’s personal experience of disability, his use of the most up to date equipment to achieve the highest level of independence, working closely with his highly trained, skilled and motivated support team – place him in a unique position as Founder Trustee and Head of Recruitment to build the workshop presenter team across the UK and pioneer new techniques in a hands-on way in schools. Toby is also Co-Chair of Communication Matters a national charity that works with people who use alternative augmentative communication equipment – sometimes called speech synthesisers.
JustDifferent is named purposely to convey the fact that people are all unique and that difference should be celebrated rather than deprecated. The charity’s view is that the world would be a much more boring place if we all looked, talked and thought the same.
Features writer Charlotte Harding first interviewed Toby in October 2015 and he made a lasting impression on her – commenting, “Judging by the feedback and the amount of children the charity has reached it seems that Toby and the team are making a difference one workshop at a time.”
Toby is delighted to accept this well-deserved accolade, “If it means that more people will feel more comfortable in building relationships with and seeing the potential in disabled people then this much appreciated recognition of the work of JustDifferent will be worth its weight in gold.”