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UK’s longest serving CEO of disability charity, Disability Direct in Derby, steps down after 30 years

UK’s longest serving CEO of disability charity, Disability Direct in Derby, steps down after 30 years

The chief executive of Derby-based Disability Direct, one of the UK's most respected disability charities, has announced his plans to step down after 30 years.

Dr Amo Raju OBE DL will leave his position as CEO in three months but has pledged to continue to support the charity – taking up a new role as an ambassador.

Dr Raju, a disabled person himself, has been a trailblazer in disability services and is believed to be the longest-serving CEO of a disability charity in the UK.

His achievements include raising £30 million to support various initiatives and ensure that many vulnerable individuals have a voice and access to essential services.

During his time at Disability Direct, he has completed over 75 projects, generating substantial income and creating numerous opportunities for disabled people.

His journey from overcoming personal challenges to leading one of the foremost disability charities is nothing short of inspiring.

The charity recently estimated that just two of the projects Amo brought to the city of Derby, a disability benefits and social care support service, to date has raised the spending ability of disabled people and carers by £50m annually.

David Moss, Chair of Disability Direct said:

“We are all incredibly sad to lose such a dedicated and inspiring CEO. Amo has been a towering and pioneering figure in the third sector and we are honoured his journey started with us which now continues on a national and international platform.

“Today we benefit from a vision he presented to trustees decades earlier, of a self-funding disability charity. His numerous awards and accolades are proof of the love and admiration he has gained from people across the UK. His leadership will be missed. However, we are equally delighted that he has agreed to be an ambassador for the charity which demonstrates his passion to see his organisation continue to flourish.”

As well as his award-winning work at Disability Direct, Dr Raju is also an accomplished author. His book "Walk Like A Man: From Limited to Limitless" chronicles his incredible journey and has inspired countless readers.

His TEDx talk on resilience and diversity has further cemented his role as a thought leader.

In addition to his work with Disability Direct, Dr Raju has been recognised with numerous awards, including the National Diversity Awards' 'Lifetime Achiever' award and the Scope Disability Equality Awards' 'Positive Role Model' award. He was also named in the Shaw Trust Disability Power 100.

Dr Raju is a prominent media voice, often interviewed, quoted, and featured in both national and local press. His insights and opinions are highly sought after, making him a respected figure in discussions about disability rights and advocacy.

In April 2023, Dr Raju launched The Blue Sky Social Care Card, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at recognising the invaluable role of carers across the UK. This card not only acknowledges their dedication but also provides national discounts and perks, offering much-needed support and appreciation to those who selflessly care for others.

Amo said:

“Disability Direct and Amo Raju developed in tandem. Our stories are so intertwined, and I owe all I have in my life to this symbiotic relationship which took a disabled person with low self-esteem to the heights of success and confidence I enjoy today.

“Today, the charity’s balance sheet is strong and there are opportunities ahead. It is however, time for fresh leadership with ideas to take the organisation forward and once the board appoint my successor, all have my unconditional blessings and support. I’m sure that not being in the driving seat will feel strange at first but the new role of ambassador will keep me connected to a charity which will always be at the centre of my heart. Thank you Disability Direct for all you do for disabled people and carers.”

Despite stepping down as CEO, Dr Raju’s influential voice will continue to resonate in the disability movement. His ongoing commitment to championing disability rights and equality remains unwavering, ensuring that his legacy will inspire future generations.

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