Awards in the third sector don’t come much more prestigious than the Charity Awards, which is why we are delighted that last night Easy News won top prize in the education and training category.

Easy News, the first ever news magazine for people with learning disabilities, was nominated for its efforts to make the news and current affairs more accessible to the 1.5 million adults in the UK who have learning disabilities. This is particularly crucial with a general election less than one year away, and with a long way to go before many people with learning disabilities feel they have enough information to vote.

The awards were presented at a vibrant awards ceremony in the heart of London, with celebrity presenters including TV presenter Gaby Roslin and Voice winner Jermain Jackman. Hundreds of charities were nominated but only 30 were shortlisted, including the British Red Cross, Sense and the night’s big winners, Newham All Star Sports Academy.

The education award was sponsored by RBS, who have also pledged 100 hours of volunteering to support United Response in our future work, and we are grateful and excited about drawing on their expertise.

Easy News was launched in early 2013 and was described by one Charity Award judge as being “…a new thing in the world and it is rare to see something genuinely new.” It uses simplified text and useful pictures to provide people with learning disabilities with easy to understand, politically neutral summaries of key news stories and events. The stories are selected and translated by UR Consultants, a group of people with learning disabilities who are experts in easy read communication.

The idea for Easy News was born when disability activist Kaliya Franklin asked United Response to create an accessible news report on a key political debate. This was made available through social media and proved so popular that Kaliya and United Response began planning a bi-monthly accessible newspaper, Easy News.

Since its launch, the magazine has gone from strength to strength. with 90 per cent of readers saying it was easier to understand than other news sources while 78 per cent felt that politics was now relevant to their lives, compared to 31 per cent a year before.  By the sixth edition, 3,272 people had downloaded it – 250 per cent over target.

Speaking about theaward, United Response’s chief executive, Su Sayer CBE, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with the win. So many people have worked hard to turn the concept behind Easy News into a reality and to make it into the success it is today.

"I would particularly like to highlight the work of the UR Consultants, and our president, Martyn Lewis CBE, who has championed Easy News from its inception. And of course a huge thank you to Kaliya Franklin, whose ongoing support and creative input has helped to drive this project and has made it possible for us to make news relevant to thousands of people with learning disabilities who were previously excluded.” 

To find out more about Easy News and to subscribe to the magazine go to

Jaime Gill, head of external affairs