“A big fat smile”

A big fat smile is what we gave to at least one of the students at Huddersfield University last week.

We were invited by Geoff Hinds, Senior Lecturer, Health and Community Development, to give a presentation to his Social Policy students. He wanted everyone to know about the work of Why Don’t We. About 20 students turned up who were surprised to be asked to invent their own superhero inspired by our own BatteryMan.

The presentation lasted over an hour with videos and audio recordings about our work, each introduced by a member of the WDW group. “Working with the students was really brilliant”, said Ian, “Everyone got involved.”

Student Ire said, “I really enjoyed this presentation. It is really good to know we have people who care”.

“Why Don’t We’s presentation to our social policy class was both stimulating and fun. It was full of information, videos and activities that really showcased their work and brought it to life. Every member of Why Don’t We contributed to our knowledge  and understanding of the group’s work and the role it plays in the lives of those with learning disabilities. The feedback has been uniformly positive. Please come again next year.”

Why Don’t We help to make the community safer?

Annabel and Robin pick up a big cheque
Annabel and Robin pick up a big cheque

What an exciting and inspirational evening I had at the Safer Communities Awards Night on the 1st Dec with Why Don’t We. Mceed by Mark Burnes-Williamson, the Police & Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, many charities, community and voluntary groups were there to receive cheques to continue or begin projects which contribute to the safety, health and well-being of our communities. Why Don’t We was receiving its 3rd award to develop its work on Hate Crime exploring Mate Crime and its impact on lives. Tony gave a presentation which included  uncomfortable stories from adults with learning disabilities. Many of the people there were moved by the emotional content. Chris Joyce, Force Crime Prevention Office for West Yorkshire Police was moved too, as his comment illustrates: ‘Your presentation last night was brilliant, the clips produced with and by the group you work with were absolutely on the money, so thank you for sharing them.’ Well done Why Don’t We for bringing the issue to a wider public and on receiving your grant.scf10-2

Why don’t we educate against hate

img_0568The Educate Against Hate conference was organised for head teachers across the Bradford District to look at ways of tackling hate through education. 

Why Don’t We teamed up with Bradford People First to help to open this event. Our job was to mingle with the delegates as they came into the conference and after the opening remarks, our team stood up one by one and read out examples of hate directed at people with a disability. All the statements were from real incidents that we have come across through our work on the hate crime project. A couple of examples are:

“Hate means having to move away from my home and the people I love”.

“Hate means hiding in the school toilets until break is over because of the way people treat me”.

Speaking in front of over 100 people is no easy task but everyone did really well. The statements came over loud and clear and you could hear a pin drop in the room. One delegate said to me “I was very moved by the people who read the examples and it set the tone of the conference perfectly”.

Sell out crowd for WDW presentation

Because of your disability

Why Don’t We’s contribution to Hate Crime Awareness week was a presentation to students at Bradford College. There was space for 45 but the college received 180 bookings! 

There was a lively crowd from Health and Social Care, Public Services and Engineering and we were joined by Alan and Michael from Radio 119. Everyone put their two penneth in and the feedback was excellent:

Everyone said that they knew more about hate crime after the session and most said that they now knew much more. “I have learned what hate crime means and how to deal with it”.

Most people mentioned that the session was powerful because they heard real people telling stories about their own experiences. “I liked the passion and enthusiasm from the speakers”.

“It opened my eyes further to this serious crime. Thank you”.


Kathy Watts writes – On Thursday 6th October, I was privileged to be a guest at the presentation of certificates to those people who had successfully completed the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) course held over the last 12 months. It was great to see Tony O’Connell included in the 18 people whose achievements were being celebrated at the graduation ceremony in the Thackray Museum in Leeds.

An added delight for me was travelling and dining with some of the adults who attend the Thursday group and who had been invited to take the official photographs during the presentations. Their professionalism and pleasure in carrying out this task impressed both me, the participants and especially the CEO of SSE who said “The Why Don’t We team were lovely at our graduation!  We needed photographs to capture our event and the Why Don’t We team did a brilliant job of doing just that. – we would love use them as our photographers again.”

It was also great to see how pleased the members of the team were to reunite with Sarah-Jane of Unorthobox, one of the others receiving their certificate. Sarah-Jane volunteered with the group earlier this year and was the inspiration behind their trip to meet Richard Dunn. In her speech at the ceremony, she reflected their pleasure in meeting up, by describing them as “her accompanying fan club!

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WDW Meet and Greet …

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… and take a well earned break afterwards!
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… at Sneaky Peeks

As if we hadn’t had enough the first time, the tram helped to host another Sneaky Peeks event at City Hall. This time we met the great and the good, took them round and showed them our work – they were impressed!

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Stuart hobnobbing with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress.

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Face Paint Fundraiser


Shannon organised a fundraising stall at Cottingley Cornerstone Summer Fair. She planned and baked cupcakes and had people guessing the weight of a cake. She also talked Corrine and Dot into helping out with face painting and sparkly tattoos. Together they raised much needed funds for Why Don’t We. A big thank you team!



Sneaky Peeks Success

DSC_4177-2 Low ResAfter months of hard work with the Bradford Museums team and a cohort a group of young people from the National Citizens Service (NCS), Why Don’t We hosted a day for the public at City Hall.

We got to talk to MP Judith Cummins and were interviewed by the BBC. We were also presented with new T shirts which NCS paid for through a fundraising event especially for us.

Read all about it here.

Just Look at Louise!

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Louise has recently moved into her own home and has been on the travel training. She can now travel, on her own, to the places she goes to regularly. Here she is with her certificate.

We are very proud of Louise and her new independence.

Well Done Louise.

Photo by Stuart

WDW meets NCS

DSC_4659_2Why Don’t We went to Culture Fusion to meet NCS (National Citizens Service) a group of 15-17 year olds. The reason we went to NCS was to talk to them if they would like to work with us at Sneaky Peeks. Thomas felt the group were very welcoming and were very happy to work with us on Sneaky Peeks and for future projects. They had done a lot of research on Why Don’t We before we arrived.

We had a meeting and NCS spoke about raising money for making leaflets and stickers. They also talked to WDW about accessibility at Bradford City Hall. NCS are willing to work alongside WDW and be part of our extended family. NCS talked about making a FaceBook page for WDW. Shannon said “she was shocked at how happy NCS wanted to work with us and how many ideas they had.” On the way home, Khadijah and Harrie talked about the friendliness of the young people and looking forward to working with them on the 28th of July at Sneaky Peeks in Bradford City Hall.

Shannon & Thomas

Listen to this article here.


Alex Visits Why Don’t We

AlexI first met Tony through Lloyds Banking Group’s partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs. He invited me to visit Why Don’t We and I was intrigued to find out more, so I jumped at the chance.

The team talked me through some of the recent activities such as interviewing Richard Dunn and their upcoming Sneaky Peeks project. Afterwards, I worked with Stuart and Nick, creating a visual guide to using the centre’s computers. After just a few hours Stuart and Nick had put together a comprehensive visual guide to help newcomers to operate the equipment.

There was an energy and excitement in the room throughout the day. What really impressed me was how everyone was included. The camaraderie and inclusion was inspiring.

SSELogoLargeIt was great to see how Tony and Harrie work with the group, giving them opportunities to express themselves and their interests. I was particularly inspired at lunch time when Tony explained a funding proposal and asked the group for their thoughts. So good to see the group having clear input!

I had a fantastic time and learned so much – thank you to the gang for letting me share their day.

Irene Reports

Attended the Why Don’t We AGM tonight and was blown away about what they’ve achieved in just two years. Funding successes, projects, partnerships, presentations to college social work students, invites to present at international conferences. Not to mention all the research the group’s done into Bradford history and its development of videos about hate/mate crime.

Their ‘We Don’t Care’ song/poem, created by the participants was unanimously voted on as their access statement. And deserverdly so.

Meeting Richard Dunn


The Why Don’t We team travelled to Scarborough to meet the Bradford Boxer, Richard Dunn on the anniversary of his famous bout with Muhammad Ali. Ali won the fight and knocked down five times but got up each time and carried on. 

We interviewed Richard and presented him with a plaque, made by the group, to commemorate the event.

Click here to read more and see the interviews.

More Work at the Museum Stores

DSC_9736 Low ResThe Why Don’t We team with volunteers, guests and museum staff at their Shipley stores on May 5th. The whole team worked on selecting, photographing and documenting items to be included in the Sneaky Peeks project.



Why Don’t We In The News


Click here to read this excellent article by Helen Mead in the Telegraph and Argus on 23rd February 2016.

Why Don’t We at Bradford College


Photo by Stuart

We were invited back to The college to deliver another disability hate crime presentation, this time to Uniformed Services students (people going into the army, police, ambulance and fire services etc. Here is one reaction:

Thank you so much for the informative talk this afternoon. It would be fantastic if you could come into some of my other groups’ tutorial sessions to deliver a similar talk as I feel it is particularly relevant to the public services students and they would really benefit from it.

Jennifer Robertson, Progress Coach, Bradford College

Why Don’t We on the radio

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Photo by Tony

The Radio 119 team in the studio with presenter. Fran Coldrick.

Why Don’t We has been working with Radio 119 as part of the hate crime project. This has been a really successful partnership which has carried out numerous interviews, created resources and made a powerful presentation to social work staff and students at Bradford College. Click here to see more about this project. 

Click on the player below to listen to the programme.


At City Hall

Sneaky Peaks takes place every year at City Hall so that the public can have a ‘sneaky peak’ behind the scenes. Bradford Museums display items from their collection which are chosen from their stores and which rarely go on show. Why Don’t We has been chosen to be the first community groups to help to select these artefacts. We started by visiting City Hall to get an idea of the space where the items will be exhibited. We had a great time exploring room and corridors and just had to sit in the council chamber!

Why Don’t We at Museum Stores

The week after our visit to City Hall, Why Don’t We descended on the Bradford Museums stores. It is a huge Aladdin’s Cave containing all sorts of fascinating things ranging from stone carvings, old furniture, early TVs and electrical appliances, costumes, uniforms and even a fire engine from a textile Mill. Curators Dale and Pam gave us a guided tour but we could have spent days rummaging around, and still not seen everything. everyone was asked to choose their favourite item and came up with swords, carvings, dresses and a harpsichord.

YBS backs Why Don’t We


Yorkshire Building Society have donated £713 to Why Don’t We for much needed equipment.

We now have a top of the range Nikon flash unit which will help us to create first class images – after all you can’t work without light! A field monitor is mini TV screens that sit on top of the camera. These nifty devices mean that users can see what they are shooting without having to use viewfinders and small screens – brilliant if you don’t have the best eyesight in the world. Finally, a voice recorder and microphone will enable us to add audio to our projects.

Thank you YBS – we will put this equipment to good use.

Click here to read the article in the Telegraph & Argus.

WDW at Royal Armouries

DSC_3401Last November, Why Don’t We was invited to deliver a paper at a conference held at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. The theme was ‘new approaches to learning in the cultural sector’ which immediately begged the questions: Are we doing anything that’s new? What are we learning and who is learning it? and Are we in the cultural sector? Undaunted, we dived in. Harrie and Tony prepared a Powerpoint presentation complete with audio and video clips and rolled up with all the confidence that only a couple of people in total ignorance can have.

Imagine our consternation then when the first attendees we met were from Italy, Spain and Slovinia. Scanning the delegate list we noticed with some trepidation that delegates were representing top museums from across Britain and Europe: the British Museum; the V&A, the National Museum of Ireland, Kranj Library Slovinia etc, they were all there and delivering research based presentations – no pressure then!

When the going gets tough, resort to what you do best – just tell your story So that’s what we did. People sat up and listened … and laughed in all the right places. But the most important thing was that we were able to take along the images and voices of the people we support and we are proud of that.

After our delivery we spoke to several enthusiastic delegates and were even tweeted about!


Why Don’t We at Bradford College

DSC_3076Since January 2015, Why Don’t We has been working in partnership with hft’s Radio 119 to raise awareness of disability hate crime. We were invited to present our work to fifty Social Work and Social Care students and staff from Bradford College and Bradford University.

Typically, the technology took some time to sort out but there was no need to worry because Chris rose to the occasion and kept everyone interested and entertained whilst we sorted it out. 
Alan did a brilliant job as quiz master and kept everyone in order. The quiz went down extremely well. It was a great, almost fun, way to present a very serious subject and kept everyone’s attention.
The rest of the team were busy too. Louise and Rebecca gave out and collected quiz sheets and made sure that everyone was comfortable. Stuart took the pictures.

We had some great quotes from participants.

Hayley wrote: “More people need to be aware of hate crime and more will be reported”.

Ayesha told us: “I liked that real stories from real people were told as they gave us a clear understanding of how people with disabilities feel”.

Well done team!

New Group at Cottingley


healthBloom_MRLPWe are delighted to announce that Why Don’t We has a established a new independent group at Cottingley Cornerstone. 

Pictured from let to right are the core team: Louise, Stuart, Tony, Rebecca, Nick and Harrie.

We recently received funding from the People’s Health Trust for a project called People in Focus, which will work on a range of issues, using photography, to produce learning resources. It’s funded until March 2017 and participation is open to adults with learning disabilities who will decide the issues to focus on as well as promoting and marketing the resources produced, which will be downloadable from the website.

For more information, contact our co-ordinator, Tony O’Connell – tony@why.dont-we.com or 07887 885011

Hate Crime Project


A freedom of information request by The Independent newspaper revealed a 41% rise in reports of Disability Hate Crime in just one year! Why Don’t We is working with groups from hft to raise awareness of hate crime and to help people to understand what they should do about it. Find out more about disability hate crime and what to do about it.

Thanks Again, Soveriegn

SOV_CHARITABLETRUST_LOGOWe have been working hard on the Healthy Eating project and needed a bit more funding to develop that section of our website to the point where we could show it to potential commissioners. Sovereign Health Care Charitable Trust came up trumps and provided a further £1,000.

This meant that we could run until early August. Visit our Healthy Eating pages to see the results.

Thank you Sovereign!

Police & Crime Commissioner

We applied for a further £2,250 from the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Safer Communities Fund so that we could do more work on Hate Crime – and we got it!

We have been working on this project with around 20 adults with learning disabilities. Far too many in the group have suffered from hate crime and there is still a low level of awareness so we are thrilled that we are able to do some more work on this.


We’ve Won the Lottery!

PHT_logo_rgb_AW … well, not quite but we have been awarded a grant of £29,133 by People’s Health Trust’s* Health Bloom funding programme. 

This is fantastic news for Why Don’t We. The grant will enable us to establish our own independent group and will pay for a group leader/tutor, room hire, equipment and event and exhibition expenses. The working title of this project is People in Focus.

We are still working out the details but so far, we can say that we are likely to run at Cottingley Cornerstone Centre from September 2015 to March 2017. We intend to work on a range of photographic projects which will result in learning resources which can be downloaded from our website.

Places are available on this project. We are also looking for volunteers for this and other projects. No special skills are required – please contact us for more information.

More news will appear here as it becomes available.

* People’s Health Trust is an independent charity addressing health inequalities across Great Britain. It works closely with each Community Interest Company distributing grants. www.peopleshealthtrust.org.uk

Safer Communities Fund

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Why Don’t We has received a very welcome cheque from West Yorkshire Police. The grant is from the Safer Communities Fund which is amassed from the proceeds of crime ie cash recovered from convicted criminals. 

Competition for grants was hot with over 160 applications. Why Don’t We is delighted to be one of only 35 groups to receive money. Due to the demand, all successful applicants received 70% of the amount they requested. We applied for £7,500 and so received £5,250. Cheques were presented at a special ceremony where the Acting Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, Dee Collins, said “I love your work”. Clearly a woman of considerable taste!

This will enable us to run a substantial project on hate crime targeted towards people with learning disabilities. We are in discussions with various groups who are interested in working in partnership with Why Don’t We. We will post more information here as the project develops.

Healthy Living

SOV_CHARITABLETRUST_LOGOIn November 2014, Sovereign Health gave us £1,500 to work with a group t produce resources to support others in making healthier lifestyle choices. This grant enabled us to run from January to the end of May. We are working hard to secure funding to continue the project through autumn 2015 and to expand it to include another group but we had a funding gap.


CBMDC_RGB High resHappily, Sovereign Health and the Bradford Council Community Arts & Heritage small grants fund came to our aid. Sovereign contributed £1,000 and BDMC gave us £500. We are really grateful and determined to make the most of this generosity and put the funds to good use.

Community Chest

Shipley Area Committee LogoWhy Don’t We has received £480 from Bradford Council’s Community Chest, The fund exists to support community groups, particularly in the set up phase. Why Don’t We is committed to spending as much as possible on running programmes that directly benefit participants rather that on overheads. However, all organisations need boring stuff like insurance, stationary, promotion materials and the like and this funding will help enormously.