Belfast woman makes Top 100 Power List

Date published: 22 August 2018

A Belfast woman has been named one of the top 100 most influential people with a disability in employment.

Michele Thompson, a receptionist with Usel (Ulster Supported Employment Ltd), is the only person from Northern Ireland to have made the Shaw Trust Power List 2018 joining the likes of Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax, Katie Piper, Andrew Marr and Ellie Simmonds who have all been on the list in past years.

For the past 20 years, Michele has been the face of Usel and the first point of contact at the charity, the largest organisation supporting people with disabilities and health conditions into employment.  The non-profit company provides employment support and training to individuals and companies, and runs recycling and manufacturing initiatives.

She started at Usel on work experience fresh from completing a college course in 1997 but was quickly snapped up by the organisation as a full time employee.

Twenty years on, she was delighted to be named in the 4th annual Shaw Trust Power List, due to be published in September. The power list is designed to celebrate achievement, break down barriers but more importantly to provide much needed encouragement to young and talented leaders of tomorrow, allowing them to see that aspiration and ambition can be fulfilled regardless of Disability.

Michele, who has cerebral palsy, is keen to inspire and encourage young people to fulfil their potential and follow their dreams.

“I love my job. It’s really important because I’m usually the first point of contact that people have with Usel and so it’s vital to give the right impression and to be welcoming and helpful,” she said.

“I was so surprised to find out that I made this list. It’s a great honour and an example of what you can achieve if you really go for it. People with a disability have so much potential, which is often not recognised. I hope this will inspire others,” she said.

In her job Michele works with clients and staff as well as engaging with business leaders, politicians and dignitaries.

Bill Atkinson, CEO of Usel, said: “Michele is one of the most helpful and enthusiastic people you will ever meet and everyone who meets her is left with a great first impression of our organisation. She has fully embraced the culture of Usel, and is an excellent ambassador for the organisation. She is an invaluable member of our team and this is a well-deserved honour.”

More information on Usel is available. 

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