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Three wheelchair users in a tv studio, Rob Smith form active hands wearing a cap, Grant from S'up Spoon, and Carron form Bealie's Joggers and her son.

Steph’s Packed Lunch C4 Disability Special featuring Disabled Entrepreneurs

Disability Special Episode on Steph’s Packed Lunch: Many Perspectives from The Disability Community

Aspect Detail
Introduction by Tanni-Grey Thompson Insights on the challenges still faced by disabled people in 2023.
Disabled Entrepreneurs on TV Highlighting the experiences of disabled entrepreneurs on “Steph’s Packed Lunch”.
Featured Products Focus on innovative products like Bealies Wheelchair Joggers, SUP Spoon, and Active Hands.
Rob Burrow’s Journey Discussion on living with MND and the transformative power of technology.
Entrepreneurial Barriers Challenges such as accessibility, discrimination, and the need for systemic change.
Media’s Role The impact of media representation on perceptions and inclusivity in entrepreneurship.
Financial Support Needs The critical role of financial support for disabled entrepreneurs.
Mentorship and Role Models The importance of mentorship and role models in the disabled entrepreneurial community.

The “Steph’s Packed Lunch” episode on Monday, 27 November 2023, dedicated 100 minutes to disability-focused content, featuring a lineup of disabled entrepreneurs. The episode delved into a range of disability-related topics, such as the challenges faced by disabled entrepreneurs in the workplace. It also featured an insightful discussion on living with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), highlighted by the experiences of rugby icon Rob Burrow.

Furthermore, the show explored learning aids beneficial for neurodivergent individuals. Host Steph McGovern was accompanied by notable guests, including Tanni Grey-Thompson, Adam Pearson, and Chloe Fuller, who co-presented and enriched the conversation with their first-hand experience of disability issues.

Tanni Grey-Thompson on Disability History Month

Early in the show, Tanni Grey-Thompson introduced some of the issues affecting disabled people, particularly regarding transport:

Celebrating Disabled Entrepreneurs on Steph’s Packed Lunch: A Look at Innovative Disability-Focused Products

It was a very full 100-minute show with lots of topics discussed. We were thrilled to see entrepreneurs that we had championed on the Disability Horizons Shop given short interviews to display their products.


Showcasing Innovation: Disabled Entrepreneurs on TV

Active Hands: Empowering Independence with Innovative Products
Rob Smith the inventor of Active Hands shows some of the products he sell in a tv studioActive Hands, a brand known for its empowering focus on improving hand function, was also highlighted in “Steph’s Packed Lunch”. Rob discussed how he had struggled after injury to perform in sports and created Active Hands Gripping Aids to help him during exercises.  He also demonstrated the Nimble – a one-finger cutter that simplifies tasks for those with limited hand function. Currently, we are offering a Black Friday deal on the Nimble, making it an excellent opportunity to buy three for opening packaging or cutting out coupons safely and with just one finger!

Buy the Nimble on sale and learn more about the story behind these innovative products in an insightful article about Rob Smith, the designer of Active Hands gripping aids, here.

Revolutionising Adaptive Clothing: Bealies Wheelchair Joggers

Carron with her son centre holding her adaptive wheelchair joggers, Grant and Rob are either sideBealies Wheelchair Joggers: Comfort and Style Redefined
The Bealies Wheelchair Joggers, designed by Caron Mcluckie, were next up on “Steph’s Packed Lunch”. These adaptive joggers, with a unique diagonal zip for easy self-catheterisation and a high back waist for better coverage and comfort, while seated, are a testament to innovative and inclusive design. Inspired by her son Emile’s needs, Caron Mcluckie’s creation addresses the practical challenges faced by wheelchair users. For more about the design journey and to explore these revolutionary joggers, visit the Bealies Wheelchair Joggers page and read about Caron Mcluckie’s story here.


SUP Spoon: A Revolution in Dining for People with Tremors or Shaky Hands
Grant Douglas in a tv stuio with his s'up spoon products on a table in front of him

The SUP Spoon, featured on “Steph’s Packed Lunch,” is another product designed because someone’s need wasn’t fulfilled by the products available, so they just had to make it!

This innovative assistive cutlery, designed by Grant Douglas who recently received an MBE for his work, offers stability and confidence at mealtimes. Grant, during his short interview, demonstrated the effectiveness of the SUP Spoon, the SUP spoom acts as a scoop to make it easy to eat “without needing to redecorate the house” as Grant quipped!


To learn more about this transformative product and Grant Douglas’s achievement, visit the SUP Spoon product page and read about his MBE recognition.


Discussion on Living with Disabilities

The episode also delved into deeper discussions about living with disabilities, including conversations with those living with MND. It offered insights into the daily realities and the innovations making a difference in these lives.

Rob Burrow MBE, with his wife Lindsey, discussed his new podcast ‘Seven Rob Burrow‘. The rugby league legend, renowned for his successful career with Leeds Rhinos and his diagnosis with Motor Neurone Disease (MND), spoke about the significant role of assistive technology in his life. “The technology has made a huge difference, it means I still have a voice,” he shared, emphasising the importance of staying vocal and connected.


He also offered heartfelt advice to those recently diagnosed with MND, showcasing his resilience and commitment to raising awareness about the condition.


Changing Perceptions: The Impact of Media Representation

Media representation plays a crucial role in shaping public perception. The inclusion of disabled entrepreneurs in “Steph’s Packed Lunch” not only celebrates their achievements but also challenges prevailing stereotypes about disability. By showcasing real stories and innovative products, the show contributes to a more inclusive narrative where disabled people are seen as active, creative contributors to society.

The Potential for Wider Exposure
There are numerous products and services created by disabled entrepreneurs that could greatly benefit from similar media exposure. These range from assistive technologies to adaptive fashion and beyond. Highlighting these products on mainstream platforms like Channel 4 not only boosts business prospects for these entrepreneurs but also raises awareness about the diverse needs and capabilities within the disabled community.

The Future of Disability Entrepreneurship

It visually represents the themes of entrepreneurship, disability, and media representation, capturing the essence of disabled entrepreneurs and their innovative contributions

As media representation evolves, so do the opportunities for disabled entrepreneurs. The spotlight on their work encourages a more inclusive economy and inspires future generations of disabled to pursue their entrepreneurial careers. It’s a progressive step towards a world where disability is not seen as a barrier but as a unique perspective that drives innovation.

Overcoming Barriers: The Journey of Disabled Entrepreneurs

Another section of the programme discussed the findings of a new report.

The “Disability and Entrepreneurship” report by Small Business Britain and Lloyds Banking Group sheds light on the unique challenges and triumphs of disabled entrepreneurs in the UK. This comprehensive analysis reveals:

  1. Motivations for Entrepreneurship: Many entrepreneurs start businesses out of passion or a desire for independence. A notable portion, however, is driven by the lack of accommodating job opportunities, emphasizing the need for inclusive employment practices.
  2. The Rewards of Entrepreneurship: Disabled entrepreneurs often find entrepreneurship rewarding, valuing the autonomy and ability to forge their paths.
  3. Challenges in Accessibility and Growth: The business support landscape in the UK largely caters to non-disabled founders, creating hurdles in program accessibility and language use for disabled entrepreneurs.
  4. Inequitable Access to Resources: A significant majority of disabled entrepreneurs feel they lack equal access to opportunities compared to their non-disabled peers, facing difficulties in obtaining entrepreneurial support.
  5. Financial Constraints: More than half of disabled entrepreneurs start without any financial backing, often relying on personal networks and grants. The additional financial burden of managing their condition underscores the importance of targeted financial support.
  6. Digital Accessibility Issues: Digital platforms for business support frequently overlook accessibility needs, hindering disabled entrepreneurs from fully benefiting from these resources.
  7. Encountering Stigma: Discrimination remains a significant barrier, with a substantial percentage of disabled business owners reporting experiences of stigma related to their disability.
  8. The Need for Role Models and Mentors: The presence of relatable disabled role models and mentors who understand these unique challenges is invaluable for upcoming disabled entrepreneurs.
  9. Diverse Demographics of Respondents: The survey included a wide range of disabled entrepreneurs from various sectors and locations across the UK.

This report calls for a more inclusive approach to entrepreneurship, advocating for greater awareness, patience, and compassion from all sectors of society. It’s a clarion call for a systemic shift towards inclusivity, ensuring that the entrepreneurial landscape is accessible and welcoming to all.

For an in-depth exploration of these findings and to understand the full scope of these insights, visit the Disability and Entrepreneurship report and learn more about the experiences of disabled entrepreneurs.

Where to Watch Steph’s Packed Lunch Disability Special

It can be found using the Channel 4 app online here.

The feature on Disability Entrepreneurs and their products is found at 1h 5 mins.



What was the focus of the disabled entrepreneurs’ feature on Steph’s Packed Lunch?

The feature focused on showcasing innovative disability-focused products created by disabled entrepreneurs, including adaptive clothing and assistive technology.

How does media representation impact disabled entrepreneurs?

Media representation plays a crucial role in shaping public perception, helping to break stereotypes and showcase disabled people as creative and capable entrepreneurs.

What types of products do disabled entrepreneurs typically create?

Disabled entrepreneurs create a wide range of products, including assistive technologies, adaptive fashion, and various innovative solutions tailored for the disabled community. Often a product is created because of a personal or family need that is not met by existing products available.

What are common motivations for disabled entrepreneurs to start their businesses?

Many disabled entrepreneurs start businesses out of passion, a desire for independence, and due to a lack of accommodating job opportunities.

What are the main barriers faced by disabled entrepreneurs?

Key barriers include inaccessible business support landscapes, financial constraints, digital accessibility issues, and experiences of stigma and discrimination.

How can the entrepreneurial landscape become more inclusive for disabled founders?

This requires systemic changes including improved accessibility, targeted financial support, and the presence of disabled role models and mentors.
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