Caring Stephen scoops award for helping others

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A Fareham man who has worked tirelessly for many years to champion the rights of people with learning disabilities and raise awareness of hate crime has received national recognition of his achievements.

Stephen Hull, of Western Road, became a finalist for the Erica Award, which is run by support provider Dimensions.

The awards recognise inspirational people across the nation who are making a difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities and autism.

Stephen, 53, was awarded the runner-up prize during the presentation in London.

Every day he battles with health problems, has kidney dialysis three times a week and is partially sighted and also has a learning disability.

Yet despite his own challenges, he has been raising awareness of the barriers that people with learning disabilities face.

He sits on various organisations including the partnership board and personalisation expert panel for Hampshire County Council and regularly presents talks about hate crime.

Stephen says: 'I was honoured and overwhelmed to receive the award and want to thank the people who nominated me.

'I am collecting the award on behalf of all people with learning disabilities and will use my award to help people with learning disabilities and I would like to learn more about self-advocacy.'

Stephen has also been involved in making a DVD, which is shown at schools in Hampshire, which he made with Connect, a self-advocacy group.

'I want to help beat the bullies and raise awareness that it still happens,' added Stephen.

'I want people to know they shouldn't face abuse because of any differences and that bullying and hate crime needs to be stamped out.'

As a runner-up, Stephen received a trophy along with a cash award for his dedication and commitment to fund personal development or a learning experience.

David Wolverson, Dimensions chief executive, says: 'We were overwhelmed by the number of entries we received for the Erica Award from all over the country.

'We read through some truly inspirational and moving stories and found it difficult to choose our final shortlist.

'All the people on our shortlist have each made a big difference to the lives of other people with learning disabilities and autism. They are all winners in their own right.'

Dimensions supports more than 2,500 people with autism and learning disabilities across England and South Wales.