With a 30 year career campaigning for the rights of disabled people, James Partridge OBE knows all about how unforeseen circumstances can transform your life plan. Social entrepreneur, founder of Changing Faces and Face Equality International, James now gives us an insight into how he turned his life round in his new book, FACE IT: Facial Disfigurement and My Fight for Face Equality.
PurpleSpace is hosting an exclusive after-hours book launch with him on 30th July.
In 1970, at the age of 18, James’ life was changed forever when a car fire left him with severe burns to his face and body.
“I had my life mapped out, and my face was central to success. I had a near perfect face, traded on that and intended to make my life a big success.” Adjusting to his very not-perfect face took him years. As people stared, whispered, questioned and commented on his scars he felt stigmatised, angry, frustrated and in despair. But it also made him reflect. “If I thought about it, if I met someone who looked like me, I probably would have done the same. The face is critical of what we think of ourselves, and what other people think of us.”
Twenty years on from his accident and thanks to the support of friends and family but virtually no professional counselling support, he decided to found a charity, Changing Faces, named after his first book, to develop psychosocial support and become a voice for fairness.
“I think the most important thing I did at Changing Faces was galvanise the voice of people to call out the stigma that everyone with a facial difference and many with disabilities are exposed to. We’re not prepared to accept being treated like a second class citizen, or like a villain or oddity because you didn’t have more plastic surgery. All of those stigmas are outdated, uninformed and flawed - we need to transform them. That’s where the campaign for Face Equality comes from. I am also pleased that we were able to achieve legal protection against discrimination for people with facial disfigurements and gain the support of many medical specialties.
FACE IT: Facial Disfigurement and My Fight for Face Equality brings all his learning together — and is a no-hold barred Memoir, a self-help and professional Manual and a Manifesto for face equality and social change.
We’re looking forward to digging deeper into James’ words of wisdom at our book launch on 30th July. What is James most looking forward to about the book launch?
“I love the thought of Glitzy - we’re going to get Glitzy online. It goes so much against people’s assumptions about people with disabilities. I’ll find something extremely purple and it will be fun. I’m hugely looking forward to it.”
We’re looking forward to it too, as are many of our members. Sign up now.
James Partridge OBE fact box:
- James was Chief Executive of Changing Faces from May 1992 to September 2017.
- James’ first book, Changing Faces: The Challenge of Facial Disfigurement, was published by Penguin in 1990.
- James was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Science in 1999 due to his contributions to appearance and disfigurement research at the University of the West England, Bristol.
- James has served on the Department of Health’s National Burn Care Group, the Appraisal Committee of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), the Chief Medical Officer’s Expert Panel on Cosmetic Surgery, and chaired the Department for Work and Pensions’ Employer Engagement Steering Group.
- James is a founding Director of Dining with a Difference, a disability consultancy company
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