A man who has faced discrimination for his disability has found his calling supporting others in Redbridge.

Toby Morrison suffered a stroke before he was born which led him to develop hydrocephalus – a condition which sees fluid build on the brain.

The 32-year-old also has other conditions, including visual impairment and hemiplegic cerebral palsy from damage to the part of the brain that controls muscle movement.

He claimed he faced discrimination in secondary school, adding: “Around the time of choosing my GCSEs I was told ‘you can’t do sport and you can’t do art’, so I didn’t. It was a real knockback.”

Toby claimed he was told while taking a BTEC health and social care course that as someone with complex needs, he “shouldn’t be in education”.

He said: “It was another point where I was very aware of what my rights were. OK, I’m a disabled person and have complex needs, but I have rights and need to make sure that my voice is heard. It was a very empowering experience.”

He filed a disability discrimination complaint against the staff member who made the alleged comment, who then reportedly resigned.

The 32-year-old went on to graduate from Coventry University in 2018.

Toby became an independent advocate in Redbridge five years ago, supporting clients to know their rights and ensuring their voice is heard.

His decision to become an advocate under voice and rights charity VoiceAbility, was consolidated after his wife was detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act.

He said: “There was some pretty awful stuff that happened in hospital and there was no-one to speak up for her, apart from me and her parents.

“I think I had the realisation that if my wife has been through that experience then others were, and I needed to be in a better position to help them understand their rights, to remind them that they are empowered to have a voice and make change.”

On his role, Toby added: “As an independent advocate you get to make a difference in the world that no-one else can, because you are truly on the person’s side. You are advocating the person’s voice.

“It’s really extraordinary hearing people say ‘thank you for helping me to speak up and not giving a viewpoint, other than giving my viewpoint.’

“That’s what gives me the energy to carry on doing the job that I do.

 “Not many people can say they have found their niche.

“It might sound cliché, but when work doesn’t feel like work beyond the times when things are a bit stressful, then you know you’re in the right role.”