In 2012 a community member (our founder) watched a TV programme about Disability Hate Crime. The programme highlighted the story of a young adult who was murdered by people she thought were her friends. The term “mate crime” was used to explain how disabled people can sometimes be be-friended and abused by so-called friends.
Having never heard of Disability Hate Crime or Mate Crime before, she began to research whether these types of incidents were happening locally. After involving the local Police, they worked together to carry out focus groups and were shocked by the stories they heard! They were astounded that this was happening, and no-one spoke about it.
And this is how I Am Me was born! The partnership with the local police was crucial in raising awareness of these incidents that were happening all too often in our local communities.
I Am Me became a community project in March 2013 working with a small group of amazing community volunteers, disabled people and young people raising money to “bring this out in the open”.
The project worked with the local theatre group, who used all of the research to bring each of the cases to life through a live performance based on a young adult called Charlie who, after moving into his own flat, began to be targeted by young people in his area. These performances were delivered in high schools around Scotland as well as Scottish Parliament and the Police Training College.
The performance demonstrated how “low level” harassment and abuse such as litter in the garden, shouting in the street etc can escalate into targeted abuse and Charlie becomes more isolated. He stops going to work and, stops tending his garden and stops his family from visiting and becomes more and more distressed. The story continues to escalate, showing many members of the public finding it difficult watch, but still doing nothing to help.
Charlie’s story is hard hitting and helps young people to question their own attitudes and behaviours. The success of the live performance led to further work with the theatre group to develop the award winning I Am Me film. The I Am Me Team worked with young people, disabled people and other third sector organisations to develop an accompany training resource for businesses.
The project received Charity status in 2015 and has gone onto design and develop many new, exciting, engaging and innovative initiatives.
The Charity was recognised for the incredible work of the volunteers and received the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service in 2018. The founder, Carol Burt-Wilson was recognised in the Queen's New Years List 2019 and received an MBA for her voluntary work and the commitment and services to disability hate crime prevention.
Keep Safe is a network of safe places for anyone who may feel lost, scared or vulnerable when out in the community
Free resources for raising awareness of Disability Hate Crime.
An education programme developed with young people to discuss the range of disabilities, the impact of bullying and the consequences of hate crime.
Project Manager - I am the founder of the I Am Me project. The project started in 2013 to help raise awareness of Disability Hate Crime and to raise awareness of the various methods for reporting incidents and crimes. I have 17 years Local Authority experience, within Housing and Social Work and 10 years private sector experience within admin and HR. I completed a BA (2:1) in HR Management with CIPD accreditation in 2009 with further achievements including advanced ECDL and HNC in management.
I recently completed a certificate in mental health in children and young people.
My name is Mhairi O’Rourke and I am the Project Initiatives Officer at I Am Me Scotland.
Most of my career has been spent working in adult support services (12 years with local authority, and 5 years private sector). Too often I have heard stories about how some people in our communities are treated by others.
I first became aware of I Am Me Scotland in 2015 when I watched the film and it got me! I love the way that I Am Me work to empower people to make changes to attitudes and behaviours from Primary school age up! Seeing the primary school programme first-hand has been an amazing experience for me and the children never cease to amaze me!
I am passionate about the work that we do, and my kids are very proud too!
I am also currently studying my degree in Integrated Health and Social Care at UWS.
Hello! My name is Molly Potter and I am the Project Development Officer for I Am Me. I graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with a BA/HONS in Criminology with Psychology. I thoroughly enjoyed my degree and had a specific interest in studying social inequality. I found the work of I Am Me inspiring and knew it was the perfect job for me when I had the opportunity to join the team in 2019. My focus is on promoting the Keep Safe Initiative across Scotland and the right for vulnerable people to feel safe when they are out in the community.
My name is Kieran Kelly, I am the Project Support Assistant for I Am Me Scotland.
I have been with the charity since 2016 and throughout my journey so far, I have done so many different things to get to where I am now. The #MakeADifference programme, My SVQ level 2 achievement, Project SEARCH, Keep Safe Initiative, Keep Safe Ambassador programme and much more I have been a part of which gave me a purpose to develop my skills and to support all my colleagues, committee/board members and our clients with my work and development in the present time.
Eileen has enjoyed a rewarding career in Housing for more than 33 years and has held a wide variety of roles in different authorities. Her most recent post was as Head of Housing Services with Renfrewshire Council for 15 years. She was also a member of Renfrewshire's Child Protection Committee for many years.
In recent years she was Chair of the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers in Scotland and a member of the national Joint Housing Policy and Delivery Group alongside government and national housing stakeholder bodies.
Anne is a qualified accountant and has had a long and varied career in the public sector. She has spent much of her career in roles related to audit and governance and was for a number of years the chief internal auditor for Renfrewshire Council. In recent years she worked as Head of Resources for the Social Work Service, which she found very rewarding and through it developed a personal interest in the work of the service. She was Chair of the national Resources standing committee for Social Work Scotland, and work locally and nationally on the integration of Health and Social Care Services.
Stephen McLellan, Chief Executive has worked with RAMH since 1990. He is a Registered Mental Health Nurse and Registered General Nurse and has led and managed the development of RAMH from a small embryonic project to a vibrant Mental Health organisation with around 150 staff and 70 volunteers, in addition to a Diploma in Business Administration.
Senior Manager with an unusually broad skill set and diverse range of experience including economic development and regeneration, national and international marketing/communication, relationship management, anti-bullying and safeguarding. Her experience of disability rights issues has been personally magnified in recent times following her husband acquiring a disability in 2012.
Mark joined Strathclyde Police in 1986 and retired from Police Scotland in January 2016. He has been involved in a range of innovative and successful community and partnership projects. His last post before retiring was Support Superintendent in Renfrewshire and Inverclyde Division. The post carried a wide range of responsibilities that included Professional Standards, HR, Counter Terrorism, Criminal Justice, Events Planning and Partnerships. Mark has an MBA in Public Service Management from Stirling University.
Ruth McQuaid, LLB (hons) Dip LP. solicitor has worked for 26 years as a prosecutor for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and is the Procurator Fiscal for local courts, West of Scotland. Ruth is also COPFS's national Equality and Victims champion and national lead on community engagement and currently chairs the Justice Board's Equality and Diversity sub-group which oversees criminal justice projects tackling access to justice for the disabled and under-representation of minority protected characteristics across criminal justice workforces.
Billy Burke (BSc PGDE MSc) has been a senior manager in education for 13 years, the past 7 as head teacher of Renfrew High School. As Past President of School Leaders Scotland Billy contributes to educational development at a national level and he also assists Strathclyde University on leadership development courses. Billy is committed to the promotion of wellbeing, equality and inclusion in schools and beyond, and is passionate about the value of lifelong learning for all.
David Duncan, Chief Superintendent, Head of Safer Communities
I joined the legacy Strathclyde Police in 1995 and have served in uniform and detective roles throughout my service.
I lead on Prevention, Partnerships and Community Well-being for the service, aligning closely to territorial divisions and taking a public health approach towards ingrained issues such as drug/substance misuse, violence reduction, mental health, suicide, and our approaches to vulnerability. I also have responsibility for the International Development Unit which manages inward study visits and deployment of officers abroad.
I remain operationally active across a range of specialisms including command of armed operations, public order events and incidents, and major/critical incident responses.
Bringing a background of IT and Project Management and a wealth of experience in creative crafting, Laura is also P.A to the Board and Chair of the volunteer Committee, ruling the meetings with her gavel! Having suffered from depression on and off most of her adult life, she brings an understanding of some of the difficulties people can face in every day life, especially those that are not obvious to the outside world.
Andrew is the vice chairman of the volunteer committee and the Lead Keep Safe Ambassador for Disability. Andrew is a key team member and more than keen to raise awareness of disability hate crime and to help with the fundraising.
In how own time, Andrew is a multi gold medal winner for the Special Olympics in the field of gymnastics. Go Andrew!
Myra is the volunteer treasurer and manages to keep the numbers in order.
Bringing not only her financial and organisation skills, Myra also has direct experience of dyslexia, ADHD and the importance of early diagnosis and support. Also a Granny, Myra loves to cook and spend time with her family (mostly the grandchildren as they are more fun!)
I am mum to Andrew who has Down's Syndrome and travels independently. I feel very sad and angry when I hear of people being targeted , bullied or hurt because they have a disability. I am passionate about the work of I Am Me. I am proud an honoured to be a volunteer with such an amazing and worthwhile charity.
Hello! I’m Laura Matheson, I am a 4th Year Psychology student, and I have been a part of I Am Me since I was in S6 of high school, following my I Am Me Keep Safe Ambassador Training. I am very passionate about tackling disability discrimination, especially so given my experiences of growing up with an autistic, epileptic brother, and personally experiencing multiple eye operations, compromising my vision. I have further great interest in mental health and mental wellbeing, and greatly enjoy being part of such a lovely team :)