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Estimates vary about the number of Britons with disabilities of various kinds. Some say it’s 1 in 7; others say 1 in 5. Either way, it’s a significant chunk of the population.

Historically many disabled people have faced enormous barriers in being able to work and access facilities the rest of us take for granted. Yet none of us can be sure we won’t acquire a disability ourselves – through accidents, chronic illness or simply old age. If it doesn’t happen to us, it may affect someone we would end up caring for. So we cannot afford to be smug and thankful it doesn’t affect us.

One person who knows the barriers very well is Lorraine Gradwell, who recently received an MBE for her extensive work in the field. Lorraine is Chief Executive of Breakthrough UK Ltd, a Manchester-based social enterprise, led and controlled by disabled people, and which specialises in helping people access work.

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