Search is on for future leaders with learning disabilities in Kent and Medway



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We are overjoyed to announce that applications for Be A Leader are now open! Be A Leader is Kent and Medway’s first ever leadership course for people with learning disabilities.

Often people with learning disabilities are not included in opportunities or positions of leadership. It is important that we are valued as individuals and can be seen, be heard and belong in our local community, including workplaces. Our contribution - skills, knowledge and experience - to society is important. 

Be A Leader is about giving people with learning disabilities the skills and knowledge to lead and govern. The terms ‘leadership’ and ‘learning disabilities’ are almost never used in the same sentence. But there are people with learning disabilities who can and do lead, who speak up to champion the rights of their peers, a group that is too often unseen and unheard. We need more of us though, as there are far too few leaders in Kent and Medway. 

With space for just 8 people with learning disabilities, we are keen to reach as many people as possible. We want everyone who is right for the course to have the opportunity to apply for a place. The deadline for applications was Sunday 3rd July 2022 - APPLICATIONS NOW CLOSED.

Read a brief course description below, or visit our new Be A Leader website:

bemix are proud to be the lead organisation running this course, supported by Tricia Nicoll, Inclusion North, East Kent Mencap and LDC Care.
If you are an organisation in Kent and Medway who is supporting an adult with learning disabilities to apply for a place on the Be A Leader course, read our guidance document
be a leader course trainers from bemix interview leader Scott Watkin BEM, Head of Engagement at SeeAbility
- click the YouTube button to watch the video!

What is the course about?

Be A Leader is a leadership course for people with learning disabilities in Kent and Medway. 

On the course you will learn about:

  • History
  • Law, Policy and Politics
  • Education, Health and Social Care
  • Leadership
  • Governance
  • Media Training and Communications


You will get to know other local leaders with lived experience of having learning disabilities.

You will meet and learn from people with experience and skills in our modules of learning.

You will have a project to complete for each module.

You will make your own action plan for change – a personal project that you want to achieve.


Where is it?

The course will be held in Maidstone in Kent. (Location TBC)


When is it?

The course will begin in September 2022. The course will end in May 2023. Course graduation will be in July 2023.

See a printable version of course dates


What will it cost?

The course is free. You will not have to pay anything to join the course.


Who can apply for a place on the course?

We are looking for 8 people who:

  • Have a learning disability/learning disabilities 
  • Live in Kent or Medway
  • Are aged 18+
  • Know people who can support them to change things for the better
  • Have some experience of creating change in their life or community
  • Are passionate about making change and making things better for people with learning disabilities in Kent and Medway
  • Can join the course with a co-learner

We are asking people to apply for a place on Be A Leader as a pair of co-learners. This means one person with learning disabilities, and one person without learning disabilities. 

The person without learning disabilities should be somebody you know well, trust and can work together with as equals. They should share your passion to change things for the better. They can be a friend, a support worker, a personal assistant, an advocate. It is best to find someone who is not in your family. It might work to pair up with a brother or sister if you have an equal relationship with them. A parent is not a suitable co-learner.

You will work together on the course and between sessions. 

You both need to be committed to coming to every session.

Who is running the course?

This course is organised by organisations and people working across Kent. 

bemix is the lead organisation running the course.

Steve Chapman from bemix will be a co-trainer on the course. Steve has 20 years' experience of being a leader with a learning difficulty in Kent. He has also been involved in lots of national work to give people with learning disabilities a voice.

Ann-Marie Lillis from bemix will be a co-trainer on the course. Ann-Marie is a leader and is an accomplished educator at a local university. Ann-Marie will bring her lived experience of being a leader with learning disabilities to the course.

Matt Clifton from bemix is also a co-trainer. Matt has over 20 years' experience as a leader in faith and non-profit organisations, with 9 years' experience co-leading alongside people with learning disabilities in Kent.

Tricia Nicoll is supporting Steve, Ann and Matt to plan and run the course. Tricia is one of the creators of a national leadership course that Be A Leader is based on.

A group of local partner organisations is helping plan the course. The group is making sure the course teaches people what they need to know to lead in Kent and Medway. 

The partner organisations working with bemix are East Kent Mencap and LDC Care. Each organisation has a person with learning disabilities and a person without learning disabilities in the group.

We also have a group of advisors from Kent County Council and Medway Council. This group will make sure the course teaches people what they need to know to work in local health and social care.

For more information about the course, click here.