Leeds disability campaigner and trainee GP made deputy leader of Women’s Equality Party

A trainee GP and disability campaigner with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome has become the deputy leader of a UK political party.

By John Blow
Sunday, 9th August 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th August 2020, 11:17 am
Dr Hannah Barham-Brown with fellow members of the Women's Equality Party.
Dr Hannah Barham-Brown with fellow members of the Women's Equality Party.

Dr Hannah Barham-Brown, 32, from Leeds, has taken up the post for the Women’s Equality Party.

The British Medical Association council member has for two years running been listed in the Shaw Trust Disability Power 100, which annually celebrates the most influential disabled people.

Dr Barham-Brown regularly travels for her work and campaigning, which is made possible by her WHILL Model C from TGA Mobility.

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Without her powerchair, she would not be able to travel large distances independently as Ehlers-Danlos causes mobility problems.

During the pandemic she has continued to work on the NHS frontline using her WHILL in a Leeds hospital.

Now this freedom to move around will ensure she has the ability to fulfill her new role as a political deputy leader.

Dr Barham-Brown said: “You don’t see many politicians in wheelchairs.

“There isn’t a single MP in the House of Commons who uses one. The House of Lords is a wee bit more representative with legends such as Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson and Baroness Jane Campbell.

"But fair to say, I never see people who look like me representing people; our representation really isn’t representative. We have a long way to go, but I’m sure with my empowering WHILL I can drive change. I am indebted to the Women’s Equality Party for giving me the chance.”

She added: “We in the party believe I am the first ever visibly disabled deputy leader of a UK political party.

“Am I going to be able to fix, in my opinion, the ableism rife in British politics? Not quickly. But it means a huge amount that I’m being given the opportunity to try and be a role model in my WHILL for the next generation – so disabled people never think politics can’t be for them.”

The Women’s Equality Party was conceived in 2015 by Catherine Mayer and Sandi Toksvig.

Dr Barham-Brown became involved when she was invited to speak on a panel regarding women’s health.

She said: “I travelled down to Kettering late last year with my WHILL in the car, ready for the Women’s Equality Party’s conference.

“I hadn’t heard of them before but did admire their founders, so I figured it would be an interesting way to spend a weekend at least.

"By the time I left, I had signed up as a member, hugely excited by the incredible, passionate people I had met, and the many ways they worked to achieve equality for all.”