The Caroline Gooding Memorial Lecture is an annual event in memory of Caroline Gooding’s pivotal role in conceptualising a rights-based framework of disability equality legislation in Britain. It is funded by the School of Law at the University of Leeds and hosted jointly by the University’s Centre for Disability Studies and the School of Law’s Centre for Law and Justice.
At the Annual Lecture the Caroline Gooding Prize is awarded to the student who has made an exceptional contribution to Disability Law through the Cerebra Legal Entitlements and Problem-solving (LEap) Project. The 2020 Annual lecture was delivered by Baroness Jane Campbell and can be viewed here.
In the last year, 35 students volunteered to assist with the LEaP project research concerning local authority policies that restricted the entitlement of some disabled children to assessment and support services from local authority children’s services departments. The University of Leeds research was funded by the disabled children’s charity Cerebra working in collaboration with the Disability Law Service and the BBC.
The contribution of all the students to the research was outstanding and we cannot thank them enough. The research identified a number of serious problems with a number of local authority policies – particularly their unlawful discriminatory impact on disabled children with autism. It resulted in a BBC programme (including the testimony of a family who suffered this type of discrimination) and news/radio coverage, an open letter from Hon. Sir Edward Davey MP to all local authorities in England, and the keen interest demonstrated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Given the quality of the support provided by all the students, it has been a challenge identifying to whom this prize should be awarded. With great difficulty we have identified two particularly outstanding contributions – and so it has been decided that the prize should be jointly awarded this year. The two prize winners are: Rachel Adam-Smith and Ketevan Khomeriki.
Rachel is the mother of Francesca (a child with significant impairments). She is a campaigner for the rights of disabled children and their carers and has campaigned for the vital work of carers to be recognised by the Government in their Covid-19 response. During our research programme, Rachel gave an inspirational talk to the students outlining the challenges disabled children and their families encountered when trying to access their legal entitlements. Rachel’s insights concerning the lawfulness of requiring a medical diagnosis before accessing social care support, also provided to be an invaluable contribution to the research.
Ketevan is a disability rights advocate who has undertaken research in both Georgia and Estonia. Ketevan volunteered for the LEaP project while studying on the International Human Rights Law Masters Programme with the benefit of a prestigious Open Society Foundations Disability Rights Scholarship. Ketevan undertook key research concerning the social care assessment and support obligations of local authorities that derived from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This included an analysis of the concluding observations made by the CRPD Committee on every country report it had published since its inception.