Meg Knight an East area police officer and local volunteer with Girlguiding from Wickford, has been nominated for the Positive Role Model for the Disability category at The National Diversity Awards 2020.
The National Diversity Awards are all about recognising Britain’s most inspirational and selfless people, coming together to honour the rich tapestry of our nation, recognising individuals and groups from grass roots communities. The prestigious black-tie event recognises nominees in their respective fields of diversity including age, disability, gender, race, faith, religion and sexual orientation.
Meg was involved in a road traffic collision whilst on duty as a Police Officer in the Metropolitan Police Service, which resulted in her disablement. With restricted mobility, she now relies on aids to help her maintain a level of independence, which she is often seen with a different walking stick for every type of occasion!
In addition to her physical limitations and disability, she was also diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition that has transformed her daily functioning and interaction with the wider world.
“It’s fair to say that I have found adjusting to my new life with disabilities extremely challenging. It has been a very long period of transformation and creation of a new identity. I’m still pretty much at the beginning of my expedition into navigating the world with disabilities, but I encourage as many people as possible to join me on this journey. I’m very open and honest when it comes to my experiences, which I hope goes some way to helping others.”
A frontline policing career was something she dreamed about since early childhood; her idol was a local female police officer who spoke at assemblies in her primary school. Despite losing this, she is committed to continuing her work within the community by volunteering at her local Girlguiding Organisation.
She is particularly passionate about encouraging young women not to view their disability as a barrier, stopping them from achieving amazing things or incredible experiences. Her overall aim is to lead by example, show young women they can do it and take them on the journey with her.
“I want to be able to show them a world of possibilities and ensure they know that their dreams do not have to be abandoned because of any additional accommodations or adjustments they may need.”
Meg currently supports several young women with disabilities themselves in her unit, whilst proving to them that you can achieve great things despite having a disability.
In 2019 she was selected to represent Girlguiding UK at an International Guiding and Scouting Diversity, Disability and Inclusion Conference in Oslo, Norway. She is now using what she has learned to develop better inclusive practices following her appointment as the Essex South East County Inclusion Adviser within Girlguiding, in 2019.
Meg wants to spread the word about how incredible volunteering can be not just for the members but also the volunteers themselves and would like to encourage people who may otherwise think their differences would act as a barrier, to volunteer.
“It has given me an opportunity to carry on delivering support to members of the public. I can’t even put into words how beneficial it has been throughout my rehabilitation. I only wish that I could give back as much as I have taken out of it!”
In relation to her National Diversity Awards 2020 nomination she said:
“This nomination goes beyond just me. It’s a reflection on all those within Wickford Girlguiding.
“They were there when I needed them the most and it truly was fate that brought me into the Girlguiding community. I’m so grateful that they welcomed me, because I’m not sure I would be in the position I am today without them. In fact, I’m certain I wouldn’t be! My only wish is that I am able to give back, as much as I have taken from Girlguiding.”
Guiding is still as relevant today as it was 100 years ago and there are 17 active groups in Wickford and West Hanningfield, with 263 girls benefitting from a varied and relevant programme, which is all delivered by volunteers.Girlguiding is not just about campfires, crafting or badges. It’s about empowering young women, giving them new experiences, developing their skills and helping them realise and fulfil their potential.
At the end of September 2019, Girlguiding launched its new Future Girl Acts campaign, beginning with ‘Planet Protectors’. The campaign aimed to bring everyone together in order to tackle plastic pollution; taking action to recycle more, using less plastic and asking governments to listen to our voices when designing environmental policies. Meg’s Unit 5th Wickford Brownies even went and had a great debate in the Basildon Borough Council chambers with the Mayor and local councillors in relation to this campaign.
Girlguiding is the leading charity for girls and young women in the UK, with over 500,000 members.
Thanks to the dedication and support of over 100,000 amazing volunteers, we are active in every part of the UK, giving girls and young women a space where they can be themselves, have fun, build brilliant friendships, gain valuable life skills and make a positive difference to their lives and their communities. We build girls’ confidence and raise their aspirations. We give them the chance to discover their full potential and encourage them to be a powerful force for good. We give them a space to have fun. We run Rainbows (5–7 years), Brownies (7–10 years), Guides (10–14 years) and Rangers (14–18 years).
There are so many volunteer roles available within Girlguiding, visit their website today for more information; https://www.girlguiding.org.uk/get-involved/become-a-volunteer/
You can visit Meg’s nominee profile and vote here; https://nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/nominate/27115/