9 November (morning session)


Lee Corless

Senior Vice-President, Rangam Associates Ltd

Lee Corless is a senior executive working within the financial, technology and recruitment industry. Having been part of the leadership team building arguably the world’s leading Autism at Work programs within one of the largest global investment corporations, Lee is now recognized as one of the world leaders in this field and is an accomplished, in demand, global speaker. As an autistic self-advocate diagnosed in adulthood, Lee supports the advancement of adapting the workplace to embrace neurodiversity and encourage autistic individuals to seek employment.

Current holder of the Outstanding Achievement by an Individual on the Autism Spectrum awarded by the National Autistic Society in the UK and recognised as a leader in the field of Autism employment.

Diane Lightfoot

Chief Executive Officer, Business Disability Forum

Diane Lightfoot is CEO of Business Disability Forum, a not-for-profit membership organisation that supports businesses to recruit and retain disabled employees and to serve disabled customers. Business Disability Forum’s c.400 members now employ around 20% of the UK workforce and 8 million people worldwide. They range from FTSE 100 companies and central Government departments to technology, transport and construction companies, retailers, higher education providers and public services bodies. 

Diane is Co-Chair of the Disability Charities Consortium, Chair of the Disabled Students’ Stakeholder Group and a Commissioner for the Disability Commission, chaired by Lord Shinkwin and hosted by the Centre for Social Justice. She is also Chair of the Challenging Behaviour Foundation. Diane joined Business Disability Forum in February 2017 after moving from her former role as Director of Policy and Communications for United Response, a leading national disability charity. She is passionate about the role of good work in transforming people’s lives.

Steve Mills

Director of IT, DPD Group

Steve Mills is the Director of IT for DPD UK and has held this position for over twenty years.  Originally, he joined the company in 1992 as an Analyst/Programmer, he has performed a number of roles within IT becoming Director of IT at 38.  Originally a ‘brummie’ he now lives in Stourbridge (West Midlands) and has enjoyed a successful career, exceeding everyone's expectations from those who knew him when he left school at 16.  There is hope for everyone!

Steve’s core responsibility is the Management and Strategic direction of all IT Services.  He is part of the UK Senior Management Team reporting to the CEO and the DPDgroup IT Committee. In 2018 he became the company’s Ambassador for Inclusion, specifically for people with SEND.  He founded the highly thought of DPD ‘Inspire’ programme and has helped DPD to become a Disability Confident Employer and member of the Valuable 500. 

DPD Inspire connects schools, colleges, charities and SEND based organisations.  Its principal objective is to offer those with SEND opportunities through work experience, Internships and Apprenticeships through to substantive employment. It’s also about putting DPD at the centre of the community to support those institutions in a variety of different ways. Steve’s ambition is to help other companies develop similar programmes.  

Matthew Wood

CEO & Owner, Millwood Servicing Ltd

Matt has worked in the fire-safety industry whilst volunteering in the charity sector for almost 30 years and, has been described as one of the most committed deliberate and creative people involved in this space currently. A family man with two teenage daughters and a successful business behind him; Matt sees his place on the planet to maximise opportunities for those less fortunate them himself via business growth and a holistic Capital Conscious ethos. 

Matt started his fire safety career in the Royal Navy in the early nineties and in doing so found a passion for helping others at the same time; whilst taking a break from Sailing for the RN Matt took up teaching people with Visual Impairments to sail in Greece and this is where he met his first wife. Wind the clock forward and in 30 years Matt has helped over two dozen charities to achieve their goals through endurance events around world and bringing like-minded people together. 

In 2018, Matt was awarded the prestigious Lifetime achievement award (The Companion Award) from the Institution of Fire Engineers in 2018 for his dedication and volunteering in the IFE and most recently Matt was granted the Freedom of the City of London in 2020 (with the ceremony being held in October 2021). 

Not content with running owning and developing the family business as it approaches its 30th year of trading, in October 2020 amidst an unceasing Pandemic, Matt launched the Woodmor Foundation CIC to further the opportunities of those in marginalised sectors of society so that they could gain purposeful paid and or volunteered employment through carefully selected, supported and creative ingenious initiatives. Woodmor is currently seed funded through one of Millwood’s Capital Conscious conduit, but it aims to be fully financially sustainable within two years.

9 November (afternoon session)


Huw Davies

Chief Executive, BASE

Huw Davies has been the chief executive of the British Association for Supported Employment (BASE) since 2008. He previously chaired the association from its formation in 2006 and chaired one of its predecessor associations, AfSE, from 2002 to 2006. Huw is one of the Vice-Presidents of the European Union of Supported Employment.

Huw was previously the Regional Employment Team Coordinator for North West Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP). This strategic role supported the regional implementation of Government policy on mental health and employment. 

From 1993 to 2008, he was manager of Bury EST, a local authority supported employment agency that provided employment support for disabled jobseekers, care leavers, recovering drug misusers, minority ethnic communities and job retention projects. The service had extensive involvement in transnational projects and had strong links with local employers through an Employer Forum. 

Tom Pollard

Independent Policy Expert

Tom is an independent policy expert with over ten years' experience working on social policy related to mental health. He spent six years in the Policy and Campaigns team at the charity Mind, where he covered issues including debt, access to justice and employment, but had a particular focus on benefits and back-to-work support. In 2016 he was asked to join the Department for Work and Pensions on secondment as their Senior Mental Health Policy Adviser, with a roving brief to work on relevant policy and delivery issues, including the Supported Employment proof of concept.

After 18 months in this role, Tom left DWP and spent two years training and practising as a Mental Health Social Worker. Alongside frontline work, he has continued to write extensively about benefits and employment support for people with mental health problems, and disabled people more widely. As an associate of the think tanks Demos and New Local, he has authored reports on the institutional problems he witnessed at DWP (2019) and the case for localising employment support for people facing complex disadvantage (2020).

Bex Spencer

Associate Director, Social Finance

Photo of Bex SpencerBex is an Associate Director within Social Finance’s Health and Employment Team, passionate about increasing access to paid, fulfilling work for people with disabilities and health conditions.  She recently led a review of supported employment delivery across Scotland and oversees Social Finance’s portfolio of social investment into supported employment services.  Prior to this, she was the National Programme Lead for IPS Grow, a programme providing operational support to double the number of individuals in the UK with severe mental health illness who have access to tailored employment support.  

Bex was previously the National Project Manager to the Drive project, a pilot intervention designed to challenge the behaviour of perpetrators of domestic abuse, and is currently a trustee for SafeLives, a charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse for everyone and for good.

10 November (morning session)


Hugh Pullinger

Head of Disability and Work Opportunities Division, DWP

Hugh Pullinger is Head of Disability and Work Opportunities Division at the Department for Work and Pensions. He is responsible for policy on specialist disability employment programmes (Work Choice, Access to Work, Specialist Employability Support) and the Disability Confident Campaign.

Hugh was previously Head of the Office for Disability Issues and has worked on social policy and strategy development in a range of Government Departments including DWP, the Treasury, the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and the Home Office.


Debbie Bradford, Ian Milton & Anne Hartness

Access to Work Policy & Operations Teams, Department for Work and Pensions

Debbie Bradford has been the Access to Work (AtW) Policy Team Leader for nearly three years. She has developed arrange of new policies to support AtW customers including the Blended Offer response to Covid, the Supported Business transitional employer support grant (TESG), AtW funding for supported internships and establishing 3 stakeholder-led AtW Stakeholder Forums in England, Scotland and Wales. She is currently working on pilots to test the Adjustments Passport and a proof of concept to those who have needs in excess of standard AtW and recognises employers who are willing to do more to open up employment opportunities for disabled people.  

Debbie has worked in various disability related roles since 1990 and has delivered a variety of projects to support disabled people such as the creation of the Office for Disability Issues and the launch of Disability Confident.


Ian Milton has worked for DWP for 15 years, the last 2.5 years within policy and 7 years within the area of Access to Work. He has collaborated with stakeholders, including disabled people, to introduce new offers of support such as the Blended Offer from Access to Work, introduced in Summer 2020. He is currently developing work that was announced in the National Disability Strategy. This includes two pilots from Access to Work which will test whether:

  • providing additional support for employers who are willing to do more and flex job roles for those who need more than standard Access to Work, can open up job opportunities for disabled people; and
  • an Access to Work adjustments passport to help disabled people progress through education and move into employment, make available a passport for all young disabled students, including those receiving Disabled Students’ Allowance (when they leave University) as well as armed forces service leavers and freelancers and contractors.

10 November (afternoon session)


Photo of Patrick AgiusPatrick Agius

SEND Review Division, Department for Education

Patrick Agius has worked for the Department for Education for over 34 years. For more than 10 of those, he’s worked in policy on special educational needs and disabilities – firstly in the mid-late 1990s. Most recently, he began working again in SEND in 2013, where he was initially involved in finalising the 2014 reforms and helping to draft the 2015 Code of Practice. A large part of his role since then has been working with a range of organisations supporting parent carers. 


Dr Stephen Beyer

Senior Research Fellow, Cardiff University

Photo of Dr Stephen BeyerSteve is the Senior Research Fellow and Hon. Lead for Learning Disability Employment for NCMH at Cardiff University. He has been the foremost Uk researcher in the area of learning disability and employment for 30 years and has been involved in a number of policy and practice advisory groups for the Welsh and UK governments over this period. 

He has published widely on supported employment and transition from school to adult life for people with learning disabilities. He has carried out national research studies for UK Government Departments on the job coach model of supported employment, employment of disabled people, and has worked on a number of European projects also. He is currently evaluating the Engage to Change Project, a Big Lottery Fund sponsored project to deliver paid placements and paid jobs to young people with a learning disability or Autistic Spectrum Conditions across Wales.