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Welcome to the RGA

 

We’re passionate about changing society for the better, so that people with dwarfism can have the same opportunities as everyone else. Our purpose is to ensure that all people who are affected by dwarfism are equal in society

 

Here you can find out more about restricted growth, RGA UK, and what you can do to help make society a better place for people with dwarfism.


Latest news & blogs

RGA UK calls on LEGO to help combat dwarfism stereotypes

We’ve learned LEGO has a popular ‘Evil Dwarf’ toy for children. So we’re urging them to produce figures with dwarfism that are positive, realistic, and don’t reinforce damaging stereotypes.

LEGO’s ‘Evil Dwarf’

ACTION: Please join us by copying, pasting, and sending our template Tweet, Facebook post, and e-mail to @LEGO_Group (on Twitter), @LEGO (on Facebook), and media@LEGO.com respectively. These are copied below. Let’s make @LEGO make positive, realistic toys that our community and children can proudly collect. 

1. (Tweet @LEGO_Group begins)

.@LEGO_Group. These figures teach kids #stereotypes http://lego.build/2qMxpQ1. Pls cld u make some positive & realistic #dwarfism figures too?

(Tweet ends)


2. (Facebook post to @LEGO begins)

Hi there. Toys such as your ‘Evil Dwarf‘ figure can propagate and embed these stereotypes among children – even unintentionally.

As one of the world’s best known and much-loved toy manufacturers, you’re in the perfect position to help introduce children (and adults!) to dwarfism, disability, and difference in a positive and realistic way.

We believe LEGO figures positively and realistically showing dwarfism would better enable the Lego range to reflect the diversity of its fans, install a sense of pride in young collectors with restricted growth, and help change society.

I hope you’ll seriously consider this request and contact @RGAUK to take this suggestion forwards.
(Facebook post ends)


3. (Email media@LEGO.com begins)

Hi there,

I’m a supporter of RGA UK, a leading dwarfism charity.

I’m writing to ask LEGO to seriously consider producing figures of people with dwarfism but in a positive and realistic context.

LEGO currently does produce figures with dwarfism. Sadly, these seem to reflect historical and cultural stereotypes of people with restricted growth – such as your ‘Evil Dwarf’ character.

We believe dwarfism is one of the last acceptable prejudices in society, which often mischaracterizes people with dwarfism as mythical creatures, objects to ridicule or fear, or ‘others’ with less inherent human value.

Toys such as the ‘Evil Dwarf’ figure can propagate and embed these stereotypes among children – even unintentionally.

As one of the world’s best-known and much-loved toy manufacturers, LEGO’s in the perfect position to help introduce children (and adults!) to dwarfism, disability, and difference in a positive and realistic way.

We believe LEGO figures positively and realistically showing dwarfism would better enable the Lego range to reflect the diversity of its fans, install a sense of pride in young collectors with restricted growth, and help to change society.

I hope you’ll seriously consider this request and contact RGA UK (via office@restrictedgrowth.co.uk) to take this suggestion forwards.

I look forward to hearing from you.

[INSERT NAME]


(E-mail ends)

Role models in the dwarfism community: Matt Hepburn, reporter, commentator, and campaigner

Our series of interviews with role models in the dwarfism community is back! This time, we spoke with Matt Hepburn – ex-political hack, campaigner, and commentator. Think you know someone who is a great role model for people with dwarfism? Let us know…

Matt Hepburn on Sky news

Please introduce yourself: who are you and where are you from?

I’m Matt Hepburn – born in Beckenham, Greater London. I spent two years living in  Sydney, Australia, and am now back in my hometown again.

And what do you do?

I am a Journalist, ex-political reporter; sometimes a press officer, and I write  professionally in various capacities. Currently, I’m developing my own media consultancy business, working with a diverse set of clients – from campaign groups to  creatives.

Do you enjoy it? 

Absolutely. I’ve a passion for writing, politics, meeting new people, and helping to  shape communications. My Journalism has also put me in the privileged position of being able to make a positive, proud impact for Restricted Growth, and raise awareness in newspapers and on national TV on occasions.

How did you end up doing it?

I studied Journalism at City University, London, and the first job I took was reporting live from the House of Lords and Commons. Since then I’ve worked within communications in various capacities and now write professionally and creatively, while working on my  business.

If you were 21 again, would you do something different? 

It’s important not to have regrets, but to have compassion and understanding for whatever came before. Every year my realisation strengthens that, while there can be  societal negatives, they cannot be allowed to derail your goals or dilute your ambitions. Your actions can help shape the society you want for yourself and others.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?

Selling raffle tickets, over the phone, when living in Australia. I soon gave up trying to sell and spent the day talking to elderly people about their cats and grandchildren. I didn’t last long.

And the best? 

I worked in Parliament as a reporter for almost a decade, which was an excellent, busy time. I got to cover debate from across the agenda and reported on leading thinkers, academics, and figures from around the globe.

What are the best and worst aspects about being small? 

People with Restricted Growth growing up today do so in a much more tolerant, accepting, and educated environment than ever before. Unfortunately, there are a few practices – deemed ‘entertainment’ – which have not caught up yet, but these are looking increasingly outdated as acceptance and knowledge of Restricted Growth increases. A positive aspect is the compassion and tolerance the condition developed in me for others. It’s fuelled my politics, outlook, and allowed me to relate to our shared humanity.

If you could pass on one piece of advice to your teenage self what would that be? 

That any of the negative societal experiences you had are utterly meaningless and will pale into insignificance through your own beliefs and actions.

Which living person do you most admire and why?

Right now, as we’re knee-deep in an election, it’s Jeremy Corbyn. He’s spent a lifetime  in Parliament battling for ‘unfashionable causes,’ against a hostile media, and political establishment. He’s constantly championed the rights and freedoms of people across the world.

How do you like to pass the time, outside of work? 

Travel – I just got back from several months in South East Asia. Also football, music, politics, pubs, bars and music festivals.

What’s your favourite book? 

Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell .

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Speaking on Sky News was a proud moment, when I was able to reach millions with a positive message about Restricted Growth.

What future plans do you have professionally and personally?

Definitely more traveling, and to expand my media business. While continuing on my own path of professional and personal development, I also want to act as a positive example; countering stereotypes and showing that while a few  remaining barriers might exist, they are there to be broken.

Role models in the dwarfism community: Tom Shakespeare, Professor of Disability Research

Professor Tom Shakespeare

Welcome to the fourth installment in our series of interviews with role models in the dwarfism community. We spoke to Tom Shakespeare, Professor of Disability Research and radio show presenter. Here’s what he had to say to us:

Please introduce yourself: who are you and where are you from?

My name is Tom Shakespeare, I was born in Aylesbury, Bucks, and now I live in Norwich, Norfolk.

And what do you do?

I am Professor of Disability Research at the University of East Anglia.  I teach medical students, and I also conduct disability research, both in UK and Africa.

Do you enjoy it?

Yes, I enjoy my work very much.  It is very varied: teaching here, interviewing someone there, writing a paper after that.  I enjoy meeting different people all the time.  In particular, I really like my medical students, they work very hard and they are committed to what they’re trying to do. I also do media work – particularly giving talks on Radio 4 – which I find very rewarding because I get instant feedback from listeners.  It’s always very satisfying to write a book – the feedback is not instant, more like a slow burn of appreciation.

How did you end up doing it?

I left Uni and worked for a couple of years in the co-operative sector.  I then went back to Uni and did a Masters and a Doctorate. After that, I worked as an academic for most of my career, with one five year break working at the World Health Organisation in Geneva, and another three year break to do arts activities.

If you were 21 again, would you do something different?

I sometimes wonder about that.  I love media work, and maybe I could have tried to have become a journalist, either on a newspaper or in BBC radio.  But I feel mostly content with what I’ve done with my life.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Meeting different people is always rewarding. But I also love learning things, and this job is about continually finding new things out.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?

My first paid work was counting laundry in a hospital for people with learning difficulties for a week. The laundry was soiled. I don’t think it’s possible to find a worse job.

What are the best and worst aspects about being small?

Best aspect is that everyone remembers you. Worst aspect, from the age of 50, has been the health problems – back pain for years, now paralysis and being reliant on a wheelchair.

If you could pass on one piece of advice to your teenage self what would that be?

Don’t worry about relationships. If you have a positive personality, people will love you.

Which living person do you most admire and why?

Maybe Barrack Obama. He’s very clever. He’s very funny. He had a great impact on the world, and above all, he’s so cool.

How do you like to pass the time, outside of work?

Cooking, reading, watching films, listening to music.

What’s your favourite book?

Possibly The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald. Or maybe The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brian. Or To The Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf.  So many books, so little time!

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

I once used the word ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’, in the correct context, on BBC Question Time.

When your time comes, how would you like to be remembered?

I hope people are still reading my books after I’m gone, and that at least one of them is a novel, not just an academic tome!

Role models in the dwarfism community: Simon Minty, trainer, consultant, comedy producer.

In this, the third installment in our series of interviews with role models in the dwarfism community, we speak with Simon Minty, trainer, consultant, comedy producer. Read on…

Simon Minty

Please introduce yourself: who are you and where are you from?

My name is Simon Minty and I live in London. I was born in Epsom in Surrey and moved to London when I went to University and stayed.

And what do you do?

I’m not very good at explaining this. I’m self-employed. I’m a trainer and consultant. I talk to large companies about employment and customers who have a disability. I also produce comedy with Abnormally Funny People. I currently co-host two podcasts, one for the BBC called Ouch and one with my friend and colleague Phil.

Do you enjoy it?

Yes, in the main. I get nervous when I have to make a big speech but I love it too. I enjoy being asked to go in to a BBC radio studio and talk. I really enjoy the comedy we make and perform. A good training course when I can see delegates get ‘it’ is hugely rewarding. I have travelled for my work and that’s been fantastic. But, I have to write tender documents, have to do long conference calls and always have some admin to do which I enjoy less.

How did you end up doing it?

I left school at 18 and worked for Barclays Bank until I was 25. I ran training courses for Barclays as well as advised small businesses. My manager told me about a consultancy that worked in disability. At the time, I wasn’t thrilled to be categorised but stored the information. After realising I wanted something different from banking, I took a sabbatical and back-packed around Australia and New Zealand. Whilst away, I had the chance to think about where I fit in the world, about being short and I decided to go to University. A fellow back-packer suggested I studied philosophy. At University I continued to explore my height, disability more broadly and then met up with the chap who ran the consultancy. I started running training courses for him and, well, here I am.

The comedy was a different route, a best friend from school was a comedian and I loved everything about it.

If you were 21 again, would you do something different?

Phew, that’s a big question. I feel I had to do the things when I did to get to where I am now. I wonder if I’d stayed at the bank would I now be married with children, be mortgage free and living a different life?

What’s the best thing about your job?

Variety, freedom and the people. In the last few weeks I’ve been to Windsor Castle and the House of Lords, I recorded a show at the BBC, I spoke with a friend about writing a book, have been asked to do a talk in Hong Kong, and have written some comedy to pitch to Channel 4. I still have a mortgage though.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?

I’ve been lucky in that I don’t think I’ve had a truly terrible job. I even enjoyed my Saturday job when I was 15 working as a cashier for Bentalls department store. I used to baby sit for neighbours and loved that too.

A part of my job that I don’t like is how it makes me nervous. My anxiety before a big event can kick in a month before. A few years ago I was asked to talk at a huge government backed event and was a mess for weeks beforehand. I retched on the journey there. Waiting back stage I wanted to run away and decided there and then, I was never doing this again. Then I went on stage and loved it.

What are the best and worst aspects about being small?

How long have you got? I’m generally ok with it now, I’m well in to middle age. I can get affected if youngsters shout something horrible, or if someone clumsily leans over me. Being an ‘ambassador’, that is being polite when I don’t want to be, can be tiresome. Pain and discomfort aren’t welcome and increase as I get older. Romantically and emotionally it’s been tough sometimes. However, I do like being me. I wouldn’t have taken this path if I’d not been short. I love the people I’ve met, I also love the short person community even though I was a latecomer. Being short has opened more doors than it has closed.

If you could pass on one piece of advice to your teenage self what would that be?

Being short is part of you, don’t resent it nor obsess about it. Do what you want to do. Try and be nice. You will get a girlfriend.

Which living person do you most admire and why?

Argh, will you quit with these big questions? My answer does vary but right now, it would be my parents. They didn’t know what was coming (they are average sized as is my sister) and no one gave them any training so I’d say they’re pretty special.

How do you like to pass the time, outside of work?

Being self-employed and working in comedy means work and pleasure often overlap. I like theatre, travel, football, food, lie ins and socialising.

What’s your favourite book?

Two that affected me hugely at the time of reading are The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll. I love a bit of angst. I read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins whilst at school and again later and was gripped.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

These questions! Recently a friend sent me a twenty year old article in which I had been interviewed. In it I said I would be content when I saw a short person be in a soap opera and their height be irrelevant to them being there. This is happening now. I know a lot of people made this happen but I’m proud to have contributed.

When your time comes, how would you like to be remembered?

Good company, could be serious but was also fun.

RGA Mega Weekend 2017!


RGA UK’s biggest event of the year is back! A three day weekend – 26-29 October 2017 – for children and families in the dwarfism community to come together; forge and rekindle friendships; and take part in plenty of informative workshops, fun activities, and new adventures.

This year, we’re back at the wonderful Woodland Grange hotel – of which we have exclusive use – in Warwickshire.

Team RGA will be releasing more details over the coming weeks, but be sure to mark the date in your diary now and email convention@restrictedgrowth.co.uk if you have any questions.

Roll on October!

 

 

Contact Us

Please do get in touch and we will respond as soon as we can.

RGA Helpline
0300 111 1970

Office Address
The Restricted Growth Association (RGA UK) PO Box 88 PRESTEIGNE LD1 9BL
office@restrictedgrowth.co.uk