25-year-old Jonathan Levy lives in Warrington in Cheshire. As someone with dyspraxia, Jonathan has always been slower than most in reaching milestones but persisted with a positive and resilient attitude, and since June 2013 has served as a trustee of the Dyspraxia Foundation.
Jonathan takes every opportunity to raise awareness of dyspraxia and in 2014 appeared in an award-winning episode of hit Channel 4 series ‘Embarrassing Bodies – Live from the Clinic’. In 2016, he was nominated for the National Diversity Awards Positive Role Model for Disability.
This year’s Dyspraxia Awareness Week has a particular focus on employment. Jonathan’s transition to the workplace wasn’t an easy one, but today he is proud to work as fundraiser for the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, based at the Peace Centre in Warrington. Jonathan got his job with the Foundation in November 2013 through getting in touch with the charity’s Chief Executive and putting together a business case for why he should be employed, initially as an apprentice. Jonathan joined at a time when the Foundation’s fundraising had been making a loss, but he quickly turned it around through developing new income streams and launching a fundraising database, enabling activities to be undertaken and tracked more effectively. In recognition of Jonathan’s work, in 2015 he was shortlisted for Warrington Business Awards Apprentice of the Year.
Commenting on his career to date, Jonathan said:
“My first job working for a Member of Parliament was certainly ‘interesting’ and I learnt an enormous amount about how my condition affects me. I had a good employer and from day one I told him about my disability, but I didn’t think it would cause any issues and any mention of it always seemed to go in one ear and out of the other. He just didn’t get it, even though he regularly met constituents whose issues were related to autism and dyslexia. This increasingly frustrated me and I felt I had to do something, so in November 2011, as part of Dyspraxia Awareness Week, I wrote a feature for my local newspaper, the Warrington Guardian. This received a far greater response than I ever expected and when it came to my next job, working for the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, I quickly put the newspaper feature in front of my colleagues. As I look back now, I realise what a great thing that was to do.
“I don’t require much help in my role but there are certain things that staff know I may find difficult and they are genuinely interested in my condition. I know that opinion varies over when you should disclose to employers that you have a disability but from my experience, disclosing and taking the time to explain it from the very moment I had my first interview has been so beneficial. The other wonderful thing is I’m not known as the disabled member of staff, I’ve become known as a credible fundraiser who just so happens to have a disability.”
Outside of employment, Jonathan runs a small business and is qualified in both print and radio journalism. As an aspiring charity leader and social entrepreneur, he is studying for a Certificate of Higher Education in Charity and Social Enterprise Management, run by Anglia Ruskin University. He has previously served as a councillor and chaired North West Conservative Future.
Everyday tasks Jonathan can find difficult include cooking, tying shoelaces, using office equipment and crossing roads, while other symptoms of the condition include exaggerated arm movements, poor hand-eye coordination and speech with uncontrolled pitch, volume and rate.
Jonathan is passionate and ambitious and continually strives to develop. He believes that it is vital for disabled people to recognise and put forward what they CAN do. You can hear him speak at the Dyspraxia Foundation’s Through the Ages Conference at St Martins House in Leicester on Wednesday 30th November.