Class of 2024 achievements: Ruthie Hayward on supporting students with a disability

Ruthie Hayward is a final year Law student who’s due to graduate in July 2024. This year, Ruthie was awarded a Disability Champion award at the University’s Equality+ Awards.

Earlier this month, we spoke with Ruthie about her achievements and plans for after graduation.

If you want to follow Ruthie, you can do so on LinkedIn.

What has been your Uni highlight?

Working as a Disability Coach and helping represent the disabled student voice on campus to senior staff and a government minister.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

I am working at the University in student services, developing my skills and furthering the work I have been doing as a student.

In the long term, I’d love to be in a role where I can develop strategies and policy for EDI in organisations like a University or the NHS, drawing upon my experiences as a law student and working with students.

You were awarded the Disability Champion award. Can you tell us more about this:

We won the award for our work as Disability Coaches, which is a leading project for innovation within not only the University, but the wider student support sector. It is currently the only project of its kind in the UK and it is helping to strengthen the reputation of the University of Liverpool as a truly pioneering university when it comes to EDI. The project employs disabled students to act as the first point of contact for initial support enquiries

As part of my role, I have attended open days and given introductory talks at Welcome Week across campus, which has increased the visibility of disabled students and allowed prospective and current students to see themselves reflected in their peers. I also had the pleasure of representing the disabled student voice with the Office for Students and with senior members of the University as well as the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, highlighting the importance of implementing effective EDI policy in better student experience.

We have helped 100s of students and have raised the profile of the needs of disabled students on campus.

As a disabled student myself, I have not always had the easiest journey and I wanted to use my lived experience to help empower my peers to accessing the support they need to thrive and to make this an easier and welcoming process.

Ruthie’s EDI message:

EDI is a concept that is a foundational principle and not a finished goal. In our practice and in our personal lives we should be aiming to continuously change and develop to create an inclusive society.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Keep going! You will find your rhythm and will fall in love with Liverpool!

Ruthie’s recommended resources:

The BBC Drama ‘Then Barbara Met Alan’ is a useful reminder of the recent history of EDI regarding disability. It shows how far we have come but how far we have to go.

Ruthie’s final words:

I’d like to give my thanks to all the people who have supported and helped me. Firstly, academically, Dr Ben Murphy and the LTSO team of SLSJ, you have supported me through the ups and downs of this degree and I wouldn’t be graduating without you. Professionally, Jennie Atherton, the Disability Coach Lead for being the most supportive manager and has empowered and championed us into the team we are today. Personally, my mum Ali.  Witnessing your support, strength, advocacy, and compassion throughout my life has made me the woman I am today. Thank you.