The Sense Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of people with complex disabilities, as well as the staff, carers, family members, volunteers and fundraisers who support them.
Eric, who has Usher Syndrome and is deafblind, has been shortlisted for the ‘Person of the Year’ award.
Eric lives with his partner Charlie in Salford and has been volunteering and campaigning with Sense for 37 years.
He has spoken out on issues such as loneliness and accessibility in his local area.
Through his campaigning, he has been invited to join the Board of Transport for Greater Manchester to share his experience of disability and provide recommendations to the council on how to improve transport accessibility.
Most recently, Eric has campaigned on the government’s handling of the pandemic.
He found the lockdown difficult as information was not presented in an accessible way, leading him and many other disabled people to feel left behind and ignored.
Due to his hearing and sight impairment, he struggled to access basic services such as GP appointments and supermarkets.
This left him isolated, but he remained motivated to speak out about how disabled people should be better supported in society.
Throughout the pandemic Eric also cooked and delivered meals to isolated and elderly residents in Salford.
He plans to continue campaigning for the rights of deafblind people in the community.
“This is a fantastic honour for me to be shortlisted for this award, especially after this trying time with this COVID and coming out of lockdown,” said Eric.
“Thank you all. I will not stop campaigning until the voices of all disabled people are heard.”
Janet Grant, who has Usher Syndrome and is deafblind, has also been shortlisted for the 2021 ‘Person of the Year’ Award.
Before the pandemic, Janet, from Stretford, was very active and a regular at her local leisure centre, but when lockdown began she couldn’t take part in all her favourite activities at the gym, such as spinning and swimming.
Despite being confined to her flat for months at a time, Janet was determined to find other activities to keep her busy and stay active.
This included online activities delivered by Sense Active, such as drumming and Pound, Tai Chi, spinning, and online exercise classes.
Janet has also been learning Spanish and Spanish Sign Language, as well as learning about Jamaican cuisine and enjoying cooking different dishes.
“I’m excited that I have been shortlisted for the ‘Person Of The Year’ award,” says Janet.
“My deafblindness and complex communication needs have taught me patience, determination and most of all perseverance.
“I would be very happy if my achievements could inspire others to follow their dreams.”
Winners will be announced on 25th November. For more information about the Sense Awards, visit sense.org.uk.