Kush Kanodia, our Director and Trustee, was recently named as Campaigner of the Year for his unrelenting work in highlighting and tackling matters of discrimination against disabled people.

The title was awarded by the Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK), who work with campaigners and changemakers to offer support, share networking opportunities and act as a champion of civil society's role in reform. The Foundation was named after Sheila McKechnie, a campaigner and activist who dedicated much of her life to causes including the rights of employees and consumers, equality for women, and housing and homelessness.

SMK was founded following Sheila's death in 2004, to empower and support a new generation of campaigners.

Kush's award was in relation to his work in highlighting the impact of the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) scheme in London, and how it disproportionately affects disabled people without adequate reasonable adjustments considered.

The campaign centred around the fact that only one-in-three of London's underground stations are accessible, giving disabled people no option but to drive in many cases and incur the ULEZ charges of up to £12.50 every day.

Partnering with Inclusion London and many other disability organisations, the campaign led to significant changes which included over a quarter of a million disabled people becoming exempt from ULEZ charges, an expansion of grants for wheelchair accessible vehicles and exemptions for carers, with the grace period for compliance extended to 2027. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, described Kush as "a passionate disability rights champion who has made a massive difference to the lives of disabled people in London".

Speaking on his award, Kush said, "It is an honour to be recognised by SMK for championing disability inclusion across Greater London and the NHS England. These are the most significant disability inclusion policy changes in the UK during the pandemic and cost of living crisis! Together, let’s build a society that is fairer, greener, accessible & inclusive for us all to thrive".

CEO Olivier Jarosz added, "We are delighted to see our friend and colleague Kush receive this much-deserved recognition for his tireless work. Kush is a true champion of inclusion and the greater empowerment of disabled people, and we are proud that he brings his expertise to our Board of Trustees. Congratulations Kush - you are a shining light and greatly-valued ally for so many disabled people across the world".

Kush has previously campaigned to abolish all car parking charges for disabled people at over 200 NHS Trust hospitals in England, and supported over 2.5 million disabled blue badge holders in England to access critical healthcare. Kent University stated at the time, “This is by some margin the single largest and most impactful change in the treatment of disabled people in the history of the NHS”.

For more information, please visit the Sheila McKechnie Foundation website.

Published 22/5/2024