Liz Sayce

Category: 1990s /  All Harkness Stories /  Health & Social Care / 

Liz Sayce (HF 1995-96) OBE was Policy Director of Mind in the 1990s, when Britain’s first disability rights law was about to come into force. She wanted to learn from the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, passed 5 years earlier, particularly in relation to breaking down discrimination faced by people living with mental health problems – at that time more of a taboo subject than it is today. Based at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington DC, and with links to the University of Virginia, Liz learnt from advocates, academics and experts. The Fellowship resulted in a book – from Psychiatric Patient to Citizen (Palgrave Macmillan, updated 2016). On returning, Liz was a member of the Ministerial Disability Rights Task Force (1997-9), which shaped policy and law for the next decade. Her roles included Director of Policy and Communications at the new Disability Rights Commission (2000-7) and Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK (and one of its legacy organisations) (2007-17). Other roles have included Commissioner, UK Commission for Employment and Skills; Non-Executive Board Member, Care Quality Commission; Trustee of Stonewall; and Member of the Social Security Advisory Committee and Healthwatch England Committee. She led an independent review for Government on employment support for disabled people in 2011. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Kent in 2014.