Respect Equals Change (REC)

Respect Equals Change (REC) is a group of young people with disabilities who want to have a voice, influence change and make a difference.

Respect Equals Change (REC) first met in April 2011, starting with six members and continuing to grow.

In March 2012, REC’s official launch event gave an opportunity for young people and professionals to find out more about the group and what we aimed to achieve. REC spent the rest of the year looking at how awareness could be raised to show they are young people first, and their disability comes second.

From here, the group grew from strength to strength, in terms of numbers and in the work they have done. Below, you can look at the achievements of the group. REC meets regularly with many different youth participation groups such as Young People in Northumberland (YPiN), the youth cabinet and youth parliament. The group is supported by Northumberland County Council youth service.

The seven purposes of Respect Equals Change:
  • make sure disabled people have a say
  • raise awareness of other disabilities
  • create a positive image of disabled young people
  • be an advocate for disabled young people
  • work in local communities/key areas in Northumberland to gain respect
  • be taken seriously
  • build better relationships with schools
Wansbeck riverside litter pick
The litter pick at Wansbeck riverside was co-ordinated by Karl from REC to help improve the local area, but also as a chance to work together with other youth groups.

REC invited a number of local youth groups to take part and the youth parliament kindly lent a hand. Splitting into teams, the young people cleared up different sections of the park and collected eight bags of rubbish. The litter pick was also a great way for REC members to talk informally about the work they do. It was a really productive and positive day and something we hope to organise again.

"The litter pick was a great demonstration of the work organisations such as REC can do to contribute positively to the community. It was a great day and truly insightful working with inspiring individuals." - Callum, Northumberland Youth Parliament.

"I was happy to be part of the community and part of something worthwhile. It was amazing to find what some people throw away." - Jordan, REC Member
Workshop at Hexham Priory School
Two members of REC conducted a workshop at Hexham Priory School. The workshop was split into two sessions. The first was about gaining the young people’s views about prejudice against disabled young people. The second session aimed to ensure disabled young people had a voice and knew they could be heard.

The room was laid out with information about REC, as well as newspaper cuttings of disabled young people being discriminated against. REC also hoped to promote their work through the workshop and encourage some young people to become members.

The feedback we received was fantastic. Every member of the school council made a contribution to the discussions and REC members really enjoyed leading the group, gaining lots of ideas on how to improve it.

"We hope to conduct more workshops in the future, making links with all the special schools across Northumberland to see if these could be delivered countywide.

"Brilliant. I liked leading it. I've got lots of ways of improving it and making it better." - Christian, REC member.
Visit to the Paralympics
Some REC members were lucky enough to go to London to watch the Paralympic Games. It was a fantastic experience, not only to see the events but to spend time away from their familiar surroundings.

The group was given the responsibility of an individual budget for the day to spend on food and drink. They also made collective decisions about room sharing, where to eat and what to watch during the games.

"I enjoyed the independence of travelling to London without my family. It was amazing to go to the Olympics, which was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." - Jordan, REC member.

"I was inspired by the people who had decided to try new sports and learn new skills. It was great to spend time with other people from the REC council and have fun. I have learnt it doesn’t matter what your disability is, you can still take part in sports if you put your mind to it." - Hannah, REC Member.
St James Park – Paralympics post-event celebration
This was a fantastic opportunity for two of our REC members to share their experience at the Paralympic Games. At the event there were talks from other young people who had been to the games with Northumberland Sport, and Stephen Miller spoke about his experience and inspiration as a Paralympian.

The event also enabled our members to create new relationships with other groups working with disabled young people across the county.

"It was really great. Me and Christian enjoyed looking round the football ground as well as hearing some of the stories from other people who went to the games.” - Anna, REC member.
REC was nominated and shortlisted for the POSBO ‘Making a Difference Award’, hosted by the regional youth work unit. POSBOs (Positive Social Behaviour Order) are regional awards for groups of young people who have made a difference across the North East. Four REC members attended the event on behalf of the council.

The evening involved a buffet, a number of youth dance groups and bands from across the North East, as well as a highly sought-after chocolate fountain. Although REC didn’t win the award, they still had a great time and were able to meet lots of other inspirational young people.
REC spent a residential weekend away looking at the work completed in 2012 and planning what they hoped to achieve in 2013. 

They also took part in team building activities, working with new members and focusing on current projects. Each member of the team was given a specific task, playing a key part in the weekend.

The residential experience was delivered at the Calvert Trust in Kielder, involving seven of the REC team and members of the youth participation team.
Find out more about the members of Respect Equals Change.

My name is Jonathan and I was born in Ashington hospital. My favourite colour is purple and I enjoy watching sci-fi and comic movies and playing video games. My favourite day of the week is Saturday as I get to read. I enjoy reading anything. I would like to be an animal transporter, as I enjoy working with animals.
I am from Morpeth, Hepscott Park. My hobbies are collecting figures and I am into computer games. I like games, shopping and reading.
I have a pet hamster named Nibbles. I live with my mum and dad and I have an older brother and sister. I like horse riding and love animals. I love pandas and meerkats.
I live in Corbridge. I have a cat called Noah and a dog called Pepsi. My favourite hobbies are cooking and having fun. I have a sister called Hannah.
Hi my name is Jason, I am 5ft 8in and I live with my parents. I like computers, laptops and watching things on YouTube. I also enjoy reading good books in my free time. My favourite colour is silver and I enjoy listening to 50/60’s style music, playing video games and watching Top Gear.
Hi, my name is Alan and I am 16 years old. In my spare time I like to watch TV, go for walks and play on my computer. I have an interest in politics and like to know what is going on. I joined REC to make new friends and to try and make a difference to the lives of other young people.
For information on all work and campaigns we have carried out or are currently working on.

We are currently working on lots of exciting projects, please check back later for details. 
Our major piece of work this year has been in partnership with, to produce a short film about how young people with disabilities access support and services in Northumberland.

In this, we spoke with more than 20 young people and their parents and carers. This was then presented to the county council as feedback on the recent SEND reforms.
Our campaign was ‘to encourage tolerance and respect by raising awareness of disabilities’.

As part of our campaign, we carried out a number of projects:
  • workshops in schools around Northumberland to raise awareness about the importance of tolerance and respect
  • we produced a short film of our work
  • fundraising for Children in Need 
REC on the road
The Respect Equals Change (REC) group goes out on the road every six weeks, holding meetings in different areas of the county. We encourage other young people with disabilities to come along, take part in some fun activities and find out more about us.

We aim to have as many participants as possible taking part and hope to arrange activities such as bowling, cooking, games nights and sports such as rock climbing and skating.
Photos of our activities and drawings from our members.

Welcome to our gallery: a page for posters and photos of projects we have been involved in.
A weekend away in Kielder to layout the aims for the upcoming year:

The REC Members challenge a team puzzleThe REC Members during an activity

Fencing and about to go on the 'king swing' at Kielder:

REC Members try out fencingREC Members in warm clothes as they prepare for skiing

REC group in London for the Paralympics and trying archery:

REC group meet the London 2012 Paralympic mascotREC Members trying out archery

...and on a litter pick, below. Created by Karl, below is a drawing of the six founding members of the Respect Equals Change group.

REC Group litter pickingPencil drawing of each REC Member with their own costumes
For further information, please get in touch. If you are a young person with a disability and would like to become a member of REC, we would love to hear from you.

Please contact Ben Sanderson, youth participation worker, on or call 01670 620320.