Meet the Team Interviews Steve: Chair of Nimbus Disability

“My name is Steven Rigby and I’m currently the chair of Nimbus

How long have you been working at Nimbus Disability?

“I’ve been involved with Disability Direct; the Charity which Nimbus is the trading arm of,  for a long long time and Nimbus has always been a part of that but specifically Nimbus I would probably say four or five years. I did some consultancy work with Martin for it and then as it broke off and took off on its own right, I became a member, a trustee member and then took on the chair role three or four years ago. “

Steve and some of the original Disability Direct team circa 2001

So, I imagine you’ve seen quite a lot of changes in those five years through being part of the business and being the Chair of the board as well?

“Absolutely, yeah, I can remember when Martin many years ago first introduced the concept of Nimbus to DD charity, and we all thought wow what a fantastic idea, you know, this is really a must-have and necessary arm of the charity and we all supported it wholeheartedly then and still do. 

“I think from its humble beginnings where obviously because of the financial difficulties of organisations putting out money for consultancy work and training work was always difficult. It’s a slow but steady start and yes over the years I’ve seen it grow and grow and grow to where it is now. “

And, what do you enjoy most about the job that you do?

“I’ve always been the sort of person that likes leading. I’m one of those guys that given any situation I’ll be the first to start talking. In a group situation somebody asks a question there’s always that silence where somebody waits for somebody else to answer the question and that’s me. I’m not shy at all in coming forward and I’m not bothered about how people respond to what I say or think. That’s their problem, I’ve always felt. 

“I enjoy leading. I enjoy the fact that for me it causes me to concentrate and really think and what gives me pleasure a lot of times is when I can say yeah we discussed this five years ago or we discussed, you know, my memory is acute because of the way you have to focus on what’s being said. It’s important, as Chair, to be on top of situations and not let things roll over you and I’m pleased with the fact that I do have a good memory and I do have a broad way of thinking and organising stuff that comes at me from whoever and whatever. 

“ I get a lot of pleasure from thinking at the end of the day, “yeah that went well”, you know. “So and so was allowed to talk, so and so was allowed to air their views and to be heard and we kept the meeting going, we kept it sharp and we kept it focused” because I knew what was wanted from me as being the Chair. “

What kinds of places have you used your Access Card?

“I use it at the local Odeon cinema I go to and one of the theatres nearby, I go to that. My social time is limited to a degree because of my choice, but when I do have access and need to use the card then it gets used, you know, very well”

And, what kind of jobs did you have previously before joining Nimbus?

“I became disabled in 1981 through an accident whilst I was in the army. I was a PT instructor and I fell awkwardly and broke my neck. And so my work was always based around being physical. 

“As a sportsperson teaching and training the guys in the gym to get them fit and to qualify them for whatever they wanted to do and that was my life up until, as I say, July ‘81. And once I got through the hospital phase of my injury and began to understand my social needs even though as I said, in the 80’s it was difficult to get out there and enjoy things, I took more of a grip and more control of what I did and got into charity work and that’s been it ever since. “

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Steve during his army days

How important is it in 2020 for there to be more facilities and services for disabled people?

“It’s as crucial now as it’s always been and because the momentum has started and the ball is rolling in terms of the rights that we disabled people have, people are becoming more and more aware; organisations and businesses and everything else out there are becoming more and more aware of the need to be compliant with these laws and rules. 

“So, yeah, it’s important to have somebody banging on the door when some people are saying we still need this to improve and improvements will always happen and it just depends on how many people decide to try and make that change happen.”

And where do you see Nimbus going in say 5 years time and the progression of the services that it provides? 

“Well, with the Access Card that we’re currently pushing – that Martin and the team are currently pushing – I can’t see any end to it. I think, personally, I have one and I’m pleased to say I use it and if I compare situations for a disabled person now in terms of access into the theatre or the cinema or pretty much anywhere where you as a service user should be allowed to go – compare that to as it was in the 80’s when I first became disabled where you had no access rights at all pretty much. 

“You were barred from cinemas, you were barred from restaurants and a lot of places because of the inconvenience of being a wheelchair user. I can’t see now where we just don’t keep going and going and going and I think as more and more people own an Access Card and use it, and the theatres and other organisations become aware of the value of the card for them as a provider, that it won’t stop growing and growing and growing.  

“So, yeah, in five years time I think we’ll be the lead in terms of access for disabled people in terms of where they go for a good night out or a good day out or, you know, wherever. “