18 May 2021

The British Institute of Human Rights is thrilled to share that Joe Powell, Chief Executive of All Wales People First, has joined our Board of Trustees. 

Joe is the Chief Executive of All Wales People First, the national voice of People First and self-advocacy groups across Wales. Joe has a wealth of personal experience of how care services can both damage and transform the lives of people with learning disabilities and is a vocal advocate for rights.

At BIHR we pride ourselves in our being a truly UK-wide charity, working with people, communities and staff in public bodies to create positive social change through the practical application of human rights. We focus on supporting people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to advocate for their protections in the Human Rights Act, and to increase the accountability of public bodies to uphold these rights in their decisions, policies and practice. Through this work we develop a unique body of evidence on the vital role the Human Rights Act plays for people in their everyday lives, supporting us all to live with dignity, compassion and independence. Through our influencing work we amplify the voices of the people we work with, so that real life experience of respecting and protecting human rights is at the heart of law and policy change.

Speaking about why being a BIHR Trustee, and supporting human rights, is important to him, Joe said:

"I was appointed as National Director (now Chief Executive) of All Wales People First in 2012 as part of a nationwide recruitment campaign to appoint someone with lived experience of living in learning disability services to head the organisation.

Prior to this I lived in autism care services for eleven years and had to fight to get out of a system that defined me as being limited because of disability. With a more enlightened social model approach, I no longer need support, have a job, my own house in the community and am a contributing tax payer.

I believe that with a human rights approach to the social model of disability, many other people with learning disabilities can make the same relative progress. I believe that supporting human rights is in the interest of all people in the United Kingdom. Human rights are the key to ensuring all people feel valued and included and we meet the economic challenges of a society which keeps so many people needlessly excluded from the mainstream."

Sir Nicolas Bratza, Chair of BIHR's Trustee Board, on welcoming Joe said:

"As the Chair of the British Institute of Human Rights, I am delighted to welcome Joe to our Trustee Board. Joe brings invaluable, and inspiring, insights from his personal and professional experience to secure the rights of people with learning disabilities and autistic people. His commitment to speaking truth to power, focusing always on people, is the perfect complement to our work with people, communities and frontline staff to create practical and policy change through human rights. Additionally, Joe's expertise of working in Wales and the devolved context will further strengthen our work as a UK-wide charity. The Trustee Board and staff team look forward to working with Joe on securing BIHR's mission of change through human rights."

Joe joined BIHR for a 2020 Human Rights Day discussion human rights during Covid-19 and beyond, to share lessons from practice. You can read more about the session here, and watch Joe in this video explain how he has used the Human Rights Act for advocacy challenge at All Wales People First.

You can read more about BIHR’s work to support change through human rights on our website, our Know Your Human Rights self-advocacy site, and social media (Twitter and Facebook) and watch our most recent annual impact video here.


Find out more about our wonderful Trustee Board here!