Role models
and allies

Visible support

Within the University, we have a programme of role models and allies, who are made up of staff and students from the University community.

Our role models represent the diverse communities within the University of Derby. They identify as a member of these communities and have courageously stepped up to be visible within the University.

Our allies are the supporters of the diverse communities within the University. They stand by role models and work hard to communicate and normalise language and behaviours that are inclusive and affirming of how anyone identifies.

a happy BAME student in the University of Derby atrium at a Freshers event

Role models and allies are people who recognise and visibly demonstrate every day that everyone has an important contribution to make at the University. They believe everyone has the right to feel valued and respected, everyone has the right to feel safe and that it's OK to be the person they know they really are.

The impact of role models and allies can be huge. They can make a difference in people's lives by just being visible. They create a sense of inspiration and motivation by representing identities that are not mainstream and showing they are part of our everyday lives. They create a sense of engagement by being noticeable throughout the University.

In addition to role models and allies, we have staff equality networks and Union of Students societies. These groups influence change in systems and environments throughout the University. We also have a range of support services for students and staff who are struggling with their identity. For more information on the services available, contact

a group of BAME students in a crowded atrium
Catherine John-Baptiste smiling

BAME Role Model
Catherine John-Baptiste, College of Health and Social Care and Chair of the Race Equality Network

"Being a role model means that I not only openly celebrate the diversity of all peoples from the African diaspora but I also make time to reflect upon the struggles we continually face to be recognised as a powerful force across the whole spectrum of cultural, economic, social and political forums."

Ali Akbar

BAME and Faith and Belief Role Model
Ali Akbar, Muslim Chaplain

"As a role model and proud Muslim, I live with my values of integrity, hope and compassion. I always act in a way that supports my values. That is why I often freely give of my time and skills to benefit people. I reach out to neighbours in need, and support people irrespective of their background."

Professor Kamil Omoteso

BAME and Faith and Belief Role Model
Professor Kamil Omoteso, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences

"I believe my role as part of the VC’s Executive might serve as an inspiration to people from BAME and faith backgrounds. As a mentor with a similar background, they might be able to relate with me knowing that I could understand, possibly better, their thoughts, feelings and issues they may face."

Yoon Irons smiling

Race Equality and Gender Role Model
Yoon Irons - Associate Professor of Arts for Health and Wellbeing

"I believe in supporting each other and nurturing our university community regardless of our race and gender. The University of Derby is a friendly community, where everyone is welcomed, and everyone can achieve their dreams."

Rubi Mahmood smiling

Race and Gender Role Model, Sexuality, Faith and Belief, and Disability Ally
Rubi Mahmood, Lecturer in International Education - she/her

"I want to be a visible advocate to provide empathy and encouragement to challenge stereotypes. I want to support the empowerment of all women, in particular women of colour, who bring valuable contributions and world perspectives. We should work together to embed equity and celebrate differences."

Rev Adam Dickens

Faith and Belief Role Model
Adam Dickens, Anglican Chaplain and Pastoral Services Co-ordinator

"My faith is an integral part of who I am. I hope to encourage others to feel they belong enough to express their faith and belief identity within the public square and to enable the wider community to recognise the richness and diversity people of faith and belief bring to the tapestry of life."

Brenda Caldwell Phillips smiling

Faith and Belief Role Model
Brenda Caldwell Phillips, Lecturer in Health Psychology - she/her

“As a Buddhist and healthcare chaplain, I support others in their search for meaning and purpose in everyday life. A crucial aspect of being a role model is honouring a person’s cultural background and experiences. We all need someone to listen deeply to us as we cope with the uncertainty of life.”

Jane Turner

Disability Role Model
Jane Turner, College of Health and Social Care

"I think that everyone should be treated fairly and without bias irrespective of how they identify. It is important that visibility and awareness is increased of those disabilities which may be hidden, in order to enhance understanding and improve inclusivity for our students, staff and visitors."

Andrea Robertson-Begg looking at the camera

Disability Role Model
Andrea Robertson-Begg, Deputy Head of Quality Assurance - she/her

"I’ve been living with hidden disabilities all my life. Because they are hidden, they may be misunderstood and overlooked in the different environments we live and work in. My support group Derby Stoma Buddies provides a safe, private space for people who have or care for a person with a colostomy."

Eloise Heathcote smiling

Disability Role Model
Eloise Heathcote, Engagement Officer, Provost Learning and Teaching - she/her

"People with a disability do not need to be fixed but accepted, and disability is not always visible like my own. A disability should never be made to feel like an obstacle to someone's definition of success. We also must strive to treat ourselves as we would others, with kindness and compassion."

Fred Gough smiling

Disability Role Model, Gender, Sexuality and Race Ally
Fred Gough, Research and Knowledge Exchange Coordinator (Digital Systems)

"I am an outspoken advocate for mental health issues, and an LGBTQ+ ally and I'm candid about my neurological diagnosis of both autism and dyspraxia. I maintain a strong and healthy working relationship with all staff I have encountered and I ensure others feel included and valued for who they are."

Amelia Bevans smiling

Disability Ally
Amelia Bevans, EDIW Senior Advisor, People Experience and Culture

"I see examples of lack of access daily, to physical spaces, professional environments, or systemic injustices. Disability is the only protected characteristic anyone could become a part of in an instant. Our disabled colleagues and students deserve respect, dignity and equitable opportunities."

Justin Harrison

Disability and LGBT+ Role Model
Justin Harrison, Centre for Student Life

"I am role model because, when I was at university, I know my younger self would have been happier knowing there was someone they could go to for help, understanding and support."

Jo Bishton

Disability and Gender Role Model
Jo Bishton, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

"I walk in the footsteps of many brave women who have helped secure the future of generations to come. Yet, globally, I see attempts to erode their hard fought battles. I challenge where I see unfairness, offer a hand to those who need a lift and create space for everyone to be heard."

Liz Atkins

Disability and Gender Role Model
Liz Atkins, College of Arts, Humanities and Education

"I have been very open about my disabilities since childhood, despite the exclusion this sometimes led to. While attitudes are changing (slowly), Disability History Month provides an important opportunity to highlight difference in a positive way and to share lived experience of disability."

Picture of Dan Tee disability role model

Disability Role Model
Dan Tee, Technician in Therapeutic Arts, Science and Engineering

"I believe it’s important to address preconceptions about disability because there can be a tendency for people to make an assumption that disability means incapability. It is not the same thing at all. My health condition doesn't stop me from achieving things I am proud of."

Louise Richards

Gender Role Model
Louise Richards, College of Engineering and Technology

"As a woman who works in the areas of engineering and computing, I am very keen to support and facilitate others to be successful in achieving their dreams and ambitions, and not allowing gender stereotyping to hold them back or restrict their decision-making in any way."

Teresa Forde

Gender Role Model
Teresa Forde, College of Arts, Humanities and Education

"I believe that change can take place at a number of levels in order to work towards establishing equality. I have chosen to be a role model because I am Chair of the Gender Equality Network (GEN), which is intended to promote and support issues related to gender and equality within the University."

Caroline Ball smiling

Gender, LGBT+ and Neurodiversity Role Model
Caroline Ball, Centre for Student Life - she/her

“University should be a safe space for everyone to be themselves and express and explore their identity. We are all unique and should be celebrated as such. As someone diagnosed as ADHD in adult life, I want to be a role model for everyone who struggles to understand their own brain and behaviour.”

Amelia Harrison smiling

Gender and LGBT+ Role Model
Amelia Harrison, College of Life and Natural Sciences

"I have always been myself, without judgement. Being a role model empowers me to support others and lead by example, creating a safe space for everyone."

Ellie Ruddock smiling

Gender and Sexuality Ally
Ellie Ruddock, Lecturer in Music Therapy, Therapeutic Arts - she/her

"I am an ally for the LGBTQIA+ community and believe that social misunderstandings and taboos surrounding sexuality and gender need to be tackled through compassionate conversation, increasing awareness and promoting acceptance and inclusivity."

Holly Dyer smiling

Neurodiversity Role Model
Holly Dyer Senior Engagement Officer, Provost Learning and Teaching, she/her

"Learning from other neurodiverse people and reflecting on my 'superpowers' rather than deficits have helped me channel my skills and discover some tricks to make life little easier. Being a role model is being visible, authentic and honest about your experiences and in your interactions."

Andy Bloor

LGBT+ Role Model
Andy Bloor, College of Arts, Humanities and Education - he/him

"As a gay man with a hidden disability, I am well placed and happy to be visible to other gay men, others with hidden disabilities and those that may not identify as either but would like to be an ally. I want to be able to show by example that the University is a welcoming environment for all."

Steven Collis

LGBT+ Role Model, Gender Ally
Steven Collis, Assistant Head of Discipline (Adult Nursing), College of Health, Psychology and Social Care - he/him

"I’m passionate about championing true inclusivity. I encourage wearing the rainbow lanyards and badges which send a message of acceptance and celebration of our community. I support people to be their authentic selves. By normalising conversations about gender and sexuality, we create safe spaces."

Keith McClay

Mental Health Role Model
Keith McLay, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Education

"Respect Others, Respect Yourself: from the top to toe, from mental health to physical health, look after the whole you."

Picture of a Disability and Mental Health role model

Disability and Mental Health Role Model
Catherine Ross, PhD Researcher, Science and Engineering - she/her

"I am a role model because during my time at University I had to find courage and perseverance to overcome many invisible challenges. I believe an individual’s limitations and setbacks should not prevent them from achieving their goals, and they should feel supported no matter what."

Ian Turner

Ally for all communities
Ian Turner, Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

"I believe everyone should be treated fairly and be given the same opportunities in life. Therefore, if by being an ally I can make even a tiny difference, then I will."

Picture of Gill Hart - Community Role Model

Race Equality and Disability Community Role Model
Gill Hart, Head of Devonshire Educational Trust

"I stand in solidarity with two minority groups (BAME and disability) because I believe in the positive impact and benefit that engagement with art and heritage can have for all children and young people. I work in an organisation that actively contributes to making art and heritage accessible."

Picture of Kerry Fernandez - Role Model race and equality

Race Equality Community Role Model
Kerry Fernandez, Arts Engagement Officer, Chatsworth and the Devonshire Educational Trust

"I am a representative of black and ethnic minority groups currently employed at Chatsworth, and I aim to work with the organisation to guide positive changes to our internal attitudes and in our communications with the general public and potential employees, from more diverse cultural groups."