DABD founder awarded Freedom of the borough

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DABD's founder, Lesley Hawes, was awarded Freedom Of The Borough on Thursday by the Mayor of Barking & Dagenham

DABD's founder, Lesley Hawes, awarded Freedom Of The Borough

Lesley Hawes proudly showing her Freedom Of The Borough award.
Lesley Hawes proudly showing her award.

Born 1950 in Dagenham of Northern descent.  Her maternal grandfather came to London with the Jarrow marchers in 1933.  Gained employment in Fords Foundry and brought his family out of the workhouse in Newcastle, to a newly built house in Five Elms, Dagenham.  Her paternal grandfather was a coalman with his own pony and trap.  Her parents were in the RAF, returning to Dagenham after WW2.

Lesley was educated in Dagenham primary schools and Barking senior school after passing the 11+.  From 13years, (1963) she volunteered during school holidays at an Old Peoples’ Welfare Association club in Chadwell Heath and delivered meals on wheels.  Volunteering in Barking & Dagenham increased to include work at Burnside Adult Training Centre as she started her first job in LB Redbridge Health & Welfare department in 1966.  During this time, Lesley undertook a Diploma of Municipal Administration (DMA) at East Ham Technical College.  In 1969 she started work in London as an Employment Advisor.  

In 1970 Lesley married David (from Chadwell Heath) and raised 2 daughters, Jo and Georgie (and now has 4 grandsons). She continued volunteering in school classrooms, became Secretary/Chair of Parent Association, Parent Representative on the Board of Governors. In 1985 she took a job in book-keeping/ accounts.

In 1987 Lesley returned to work in LB Havering as an Arts Officer. 

Lesley & Mayor
Lesley receiving her Freedom Of The Borough award.

In 1990 Lesley was appointed Coordinator for Barking & Dagenham Disablement Association developing services that empowered disabled people to have choice, independence, easy access and influence.  DABD nurtured its small core membership and created an organisation that enabled the local community to influence local and national services and opinion. DABD service provision was identified, created and developed in this way.

As the Community Care Act was introduced, partnerships were formed, services identified and developed based on views of local individuals.  This brought forward local people wanting to volunteer and a number of charitable organisations were created.  

Of prime importance was that the local community were able to influence and guide the continued development of local services.  

Apart from working for DABD, Lesley was involved in the creation of charitable groups, development of Home from Hospital programmes, Community Nail Cutting Services, Community Care Forum, Youth Services for disabled people, clubs for visually impaired & hearing impaired people, Wheelchair Loans brokerage, Benefits Advice, Transport, Travel Training schemes, Employment Training, Employment Brokerage and much more.  Lesley was involved in the development of DDA and appeared for the Community at the Public Accounts Committee in the House of Commons.  

Lesley was Chair of the Welfare Rights Forum, the Employment Training Brokerage, was a non executive director of the Health Authority, Mental Health Tribunals Board (Lay Member), was on various local Charity Boards and a Magistrate for 5+ years whilst undertaking post graduate qualification at University of East London and a Member of the Chartered Management Institute. 

Lesley has been involved in or instigated many of the “firsts” in LBBD ie European Social Funding, Business Enterprise LEGI fund, Lottery Board funding, Travel Training programmes, Big Society.  

Lesley continues to volunteer with London University Institute of Advanced Studies and English Heritage on a social demographic history of Barking & Dagenham and of the Disability movement in the area.

Lesley’s hobbies include art, art history, rock choir, musical theatre and opera. 

Lesley was raised with a strong work ethic and given every opportunity to aspire to and achieve her goals.  She has an enduring belief that everybody should have this same opportunity to personally develop and achieve their goal.  This is integral in her contributions to the community as she wants everybody to have the same chances she had.