Lifetime Achiever Award
Dr. Amo Raju is one of the longest serving CEO’s of a user-led DPO in the country, having been with Disability Direct for over 29 years. Since 1997 he has generated over £28m in grants, contracts and chargeable services. In 2022 Amo won the ‘Outstanding 3rd Sector Achievement Award’ at The British Sikh Awards and also recognised by the University of Derby by award of a Doctorate for his services to the 3rd Sector and Disabled People. As a disabled person from the South Asian community Amo has recently published a highly commended book called ‘Walk Like A Man’ based on his own secret battles with depression and the wider world. Recently Amo was awarded an OBE for services to disabled people, carer and mental health and also became a Deputy Lieutenant for The Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire and in turn, His Majesty King Charles III.
We spoke with Dr Amo Raju after they won the Lifetime Achiever Award at The National Diversity Awards 2023. Here’s what they had to say:
How did it feel when you received the email to advise that you had been nominated for a National Diversity Award?
I was quite surprised! I still haven’t worked out who initially nominated me but was very thankful for their belief that I was worthy of nomination.
After the excitement of the shortlist announcement and after patiently waiting for the final result, how did you feel when it was announced that you were the official winner of the Lifetime Achiever Award?
After watching all those incredible people go up onto the stage to collect their awards one by one, I honestly did not think for one moment that I would be joining them. As my bio began to be read out on stage, my legs turned to jelly and all I could think of was how was I going to walk past the crowd! However, I can hand on heart state that it was one of the best feelings I have ever experienced in my life and am not sure it will be repeated!
You are officially a National Diversity Award Winner! Moving forward, how will you utilise this to further leverage your cause?
It is my intention to show current and future generations of disabled people who may be lacking confidence that anything is possible. I have diverted some of my time to mentoring future leaders and hope to inspire more people to work in the fields of diversity and the voluntary sector as a whole.
What were your thoughts on the National Diversity Awards Ceremony?
A fantastically organised event with professionalism integrated in every aspect of the evening. Well done to the NDA Team!
Nominations for the National Diversity Awards 2024 are due to open early next year! What advice would you give to others who are thinking of entering the awards?
Believe in yourselves and then enjoy every moment of the process!
Did receiving the award benefit you in anyway? If so, how?
It has definitely raised my profile on a national stage and endorsed my approach to tackling diversity deficits. I have been asked to deliver more keynote speeches since the announcement of the award too.
What have you been up to since September, any exciting developments you would like to tell our audience about?
Since September, I written a couple of columns in the Disability Review Magazine and Charity Times publications. I’ve been on countless radio programmes discussing the award and many tv programmes as a guest discussing diversity in general. In my day job I’ve become more outward-facing and spend more time doing keynote speeches.
Why do you think it is important to recognise role models and community organisations from underrepresented communities for their work?
There are so many unsung heroes doing great work in communities across the UK. Recognition of such kind is a concept considered by many as ‘only for the celebrities’. When such individuals gain the attention they deserve it boosts morale for the sector as a whole. Nominees and winners become a beacon of hope for an underappreciated sector and indirectly creates new generations of community workers and groups.