Stories of Men

Disability awareness with the help of technology

Using Technology to Promote Disability Awareness

Using Technology to Promote Disability Awareness

This episode of Our Voices focuses on Gavin, a man who has dedicated himself to promoting disability awareness and changing attitudes towards disability.

The importance of fairness

Fairness is something which has been a crucial principle for Gavin since childhood. He grew up as a middle child and the siblings would often squabble. “My mum would always have to separate us and try and balance things out evenly and make sure that we all got something when something was being given out.”

Illustrating how far Gavin’s mother would go to ensure fairness was maintained, Gavin describes how the rare treat of a chocolate bar would be evenly distributed. 

“Instead of just breaking it in half and giving a bit to one and a bit to the other… she would pass the Mars bar to one of us and give us a knife and say, one of you cut it, and the other one, choose which half you want… You’ve never seen two boys measuring a Mars bar as efficiently as we did back then.”

Gavin picked up on his mother’s appreciation for fairness and he has channelled this into his own life. He also happens to be a Libra, a star sign which is renowned for its appreciation of balance.

disability awareness

First experiences of working with those with disabilities

After finishing school, Gavin joined the RAF, did his basic training and then became a police dog handler. He left the forces at the age of 27 and wanted to focus on doing something. He wanted to be able to give back to the community. 

Consequently, he started working as a guide dog mobility instructor. Although Gavin was comfortable working with the dogs, he was nervous about interacting with those who were blind or partially sighted due to his lack of disability awareness. “I felt myself avoiding words like ‘Do you see what I mean?’ Or, or trying not to say things like ‘it’s over there’. And everything about my natural normal conversation just disappeared because I realised I was just anxious.”

Interacting with people with disabilities

Fortunately, an older colleague, called Linda, helped Gavin to raise his level of disability awareness. Linda had visually impairment but it wasn’t this aspect of her which struck Gavin the most.

 “She was gregarious and friendly, and charismatic, and smiley…just really, really friendly.” 

His experiences with Linda helped to put him at ease. It reduced his feelings of anxiety relating to his new role. Gavin realised that the best way to interact with the people he was working with was to treat them with friendship. He could then discover the best way to provide for his clients’ needs. 

Gavin ended up working with hundreds of people who had visual impairments. He describes the best part of the job as being the moment . When his client was ready to leave the centre with their new guide dog.

Seeing discrimination firsthand

Gavin was particularly affected by his experiences with a client named John, a man who had visible facial differences due to a fireworks incident. 

“John was a great guy, and he was actually a professor, very intelligent and cerebral. I was able to have fantastic conversations with him when we were training or when we were just having a cup of tea.”

But while Gavin was grabbing a coffee with John after one of their training sessions, he noticed something that made him feel uncomfortable. John had paid for the coffees and handed over his credit card. The sales assistant then, rather strangely, attempted to pass the card back to Gavin. Trying to understand the logic of this, Gavin says

 “Now, John, being blind, they might go, well, how does he know where my hand is? Do I have to touch his hand? They would feel a bit nervous or anxious about making contact… it’s ignorance with a small “i” on their part, they probably don’t mean to offend, but they just don’t know what to do.”

disability awareness and inclusion

After this, another incident occurred which Gavin found even more disturbing. The two men sat down to drink their coffee. Gavin noticed that passersby were staring at John and then whispering to each other. “Even though he couldn’t see them staring and he couldn’t see their facial expressions, I could. And it upset me that they didn’t just see John.”

Focusing on disability awareness

Due to Gavin’s instincts regarding fairness and equality, these incidents could easily have led to him losing his temper. But he realised that anger would not help to solve the situation. In fact it would only serve to give people “a negative association with disabled people.”

Thus, Gavin has dedicated himself to changing how society treats the disabled by making the situation positive. He has done this by increasing disability awareness. “When it comes to an interaction by a receptionist, or a shopkeeper or customer service representative, it’s got to come down to their awareness of disability.”

Sharing information

Gavin has done this by developing an App called “Welcome” which is designed to improve customer service approaches when interacting with people with disabilities. Explaining how the App works, Gavin says: 

“we’ll just imagine Linda with her guide dog walking into a shop. Linda’s using that application. And because of that the person in the shop goes “Right this is Linda, Linda is a guide dog owner. Make sure you introduce yourself. Don’t talk to Linda’s guide dog, offer Linda your arm, don’t take Linda’s arm if you’re giving a sighted guide. When you’re walking away from Linda, make sure you say goodbye and say you’re going.” 

Now, if you know that an hour before you meet Linda, when you meet Linda, you put all this into practice.”

“Welcome” uses information from a range of charities so that people are informed and prepared for when a person with a disability is going to use their service.  People with disabilities can let staff members know which product they wish to purchase, what size, how they want to pay and many other things so that the customer service person is able to have everything fully-prepared. 

disabled awareness

Disability inclusion

As well as helping people with disabilities get better customer service. Gavin believes that ‘Welcome’ will change interactions more generally. This would be done by raising society’s consciousness on disability awareness and, thereby, foster disability inclusion.

 “What we are doing when we make sure everybody in our society has access to information. We are changing the way society interacts. Now, this is such a big idea. It’s massive.”

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Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3


Favourite Food: Potatoes

Favourite Sport: Wild swimming

Favourite Show: Anything Marvel

Favourite Movie: Anything Marvel

Favourite City: London

Hobby: Music

Favourite Book: Northern Lights


I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

Industry experience: 3 Years


Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.


I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

 Experience in Industry: 5 years


Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

Favourite Sport: Rugby. I played from the age of 5 until 26 when a dislocated shoulder put me out of action. Still like to watch now though.

Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

Favourite Movie: Gladiator

Favourite City: London. As a country boy from Yorkshire, I never thought I’d enjoy living here.

Hobby: Listening to podcasts while on long walks with my dog Alfie.

Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt



Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  





Favourite Food: I love Indian food – My favourite dish is a Dansak. It’s a rich combination of hot, sweet and sour flavours, made from lamb and lentils.

Favourite Sport: I enjoy watching combat sports like MMA – Isreal Adesanya is my favourite fighter at the moment, due to his Tae Kwon Do base and speed. 

Favourite Show: Succession – an American satirical drama. The character development is incredible, and the writing is top notch. 

Favourite Movie: True Lies. I find it amazing that someone who can’t act (Arni) has so many great films.

Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

Hobby: Making music, going to gym and eating out. 

Favourite Book:  The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the world she created, and the incremental path the characters take into darkness. It’s amazing.


I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.



Favourite Food: Chocolate. It’s an indulgence, I know, but it tastes so good. I particularly enjoy dark chocolate for its richness and smoothness. 

Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

Hobby: Watching films. I love films, foreign films, classic films, contemporary films, just all good films.

Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 

Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Sport: Show jumping. When I was little I wanted to be a professional horse-rider, and I still get a kick out of watching the pros in action.

Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

Favourite City: Very hard to choose, but it’s got to be Barcelona. The food, the pace of life, the winding streets – there’s nowhere else like it. 

Hobby: exploring city streets on my bike – preferably while listening (safely!) to a podcast – is when I’m at my happiest. 

Favourite Book: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a stunning, utterly unique portrait of womanhood, race, ageing and the principles we choose to live 

I am the host of Stories of Men. I help to find men that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet men from all walks of life and many of these guys had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Stories of Men’ because I wanted to give these men a platform to share their stories with the world.

I love the detail that people go into and how people craft stories in different ways. My dream and vision for the future would be countless people messaging to tell us how a particular episode has changed their lives!


Favourite Food: Avocados – an incredibly delicious fruit that can be used in so many dishes. My favourite is guacamole with nachos!

Favourite Sport: Boxing and football (couldn’t choose one!)

Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.