Life, children and additional needs

Date: Tuesday 16th May 2023
Time: 12:00 PM - 01:30 PM
Location: Gateley, Ship Canal House, 98 King Street, M2 4WU
Cost: £20 - non members / Free - members
Equality, Diversity & Inclusivity
Member Event
SME Club

This event is brought to you by the pro-parent strand of the EDI committee

Join the pro-parent sub-committee for this lunch-time panel event hosted by Gateley Plc. Coping with the challenges of bringing up a child or children whilst also working, as well as juggling day to day life can be difficult. But what happens if one of your children, or someone you know and love is diagnosed with either a physical disability or a neurodiverse condition?

At this event you’ll hear from a wide range of panellists who will speak openly about their personal stories and discuss the challenges they have faced along the way. We will share ideas and insights into the coping mechanisms, processes and strategies which have helped our panellists, as well as the practical issues which have been navigated by them, such as choice and location of schools, living arrangements, supporting charities and more.

We hope that sharing lived experiences in this way will be inspiring and thought provoking, and that we can educate each other to support those around us as and when they need it. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say, and we want to try and break down those barriers. This is set to be a very powerful and thought provoking, interactive event

About the Speakers:

Jessica Kraja Legal Director - Weightmans LLP

Jessica is a Legal Director at Weightmans in the Commercial Litigation team, specialising in all aspects of general commercial litigation work of high value, in particular brand protection disputes. She is a member of the pro-parent Sub-Committee and is hosting this panel event. As a parent of two young children and a full time working parent, Jess is passionate about sharing experiences and knowledge within the business and public community and hopes that this session delivers to its expectations!


Nicola Bottley Director - BDO LLP

Nicola is a Director at BDO LLP and leads the regional Capital Allowances team.
She has over 35 years’ experience in the construction industry and has specialised in capital allowances since 1995. She is a chartered surveyor, a qualified arbitrator and qualified in tax.
She was the regional winner of Forward Ladies Regional Corporate Winner (NW Wales and Ireland) 2019 and nominated for the Northern Power Women Awards in 2022.

She is the mother of 3 fabulous boys with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), the bereaved mother of twin daughters and since 2016 a single parent.
Her 5 children were all born very prematurely, her twin sons suffered severe strokes at 4 days old:

She has fought for the educational, health and care rights of her children since their birth taking on several Local Authorities through educational tribunals and other parties in several court actions. She has won every case.

She is a formidable volunteer advocate and constant support for parents of children with SEND. She is known for her integrity and strong factual approach, working to ensure the Law and legal framework is adhered to by Local Authorities so that children and young people with SEND are given the educational, health and care funding and support they both need, and are legally entitled to. She is passionate about disability equality and rights.

Kirsty Collin Global Head of CRM - Gleeds

Kirsty is a seasoned professional with over 18 years in the construction industry, currently serving as the Global Head of CRM at Gleeds. Beyond her impressive career, Kirsty is a leader in construction and a passionate advocate for mental health awareness.

Kirsty’s non-traditional career journey showcases her tenacity and determination in forging her own path. She brings a unique perspective to the business world.

Her commitment extends to empowering voices in the business landscape. Kirsty is on a mission to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health, leveraging her personal experiences to foster open conversations within the industry and beyond.



Chris Roberts Chief Development Officer - Bruntwood

Chris joined Bruntwood in 1993 having completed a degree in Urban Estate Planning at Liverpool John Moores University. Since joining Bruntwood, he has held roles in both the sales and development teams before becoming Development Director in 2004. Currently Chris is Bruntwood’s Chief Development Officer responsible for all strategic regeneration and development opportunities in our city regions, specifically leading on place based Town Centre Regeneration. These include the 3 site JV with Trafford Council plus the recent JV with Bury Council.

His role also includes exploring further JV opportunities with Public Sector bodies, with the primary focus being full mixed used regeneration.

Outside of Bruntwood, Chris is also a Governor at Cheadle Hulme School, holding the post of Director of Estates. He is married with two children and in his spare time enjoys any sport or activity that allows him to be outside.

Martina Witter Director - Rapha Therapy & Training Services

Martina Witter is a Director of Award Winning Rapha Therapy & Training Services, Accredited
Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, Mindset coach ,Health and Wellbeing Consultant, Author , Podcast Host ( Rivers to Resilience), Blogger ,Resilience Trainer , Founder of Black Mental Wealth and Cofounder of Black Women in Business and Professionals Network.

Martina has over 20 years experience working within the wellbeing and mental health field helping diverse individuals ( children & Adults) to develop a strong mindset that allows them to turn bottlenecks into breakthroughs, increase performance and productivity in organizations. Due to her contributions to the field, she has been featured in HuffPost, Thrive Global ,Metro, The Voice, and BBC Radio Manchester.

Martina delivers transformational, dynamic and experiential training whilst also having a passion to see individuals thrive holistically in life through being revived, restored and refocused . Martina delivers Coaching and psychological therapy in innovative and accessible ways including online (video & instant messaging) and via telephone. Martina draws upon her life experiences including bereavements, rejection and stress to connect and empathize with her clients whilst sharing how she has successfully navigated adversity and utilized this for transformation and growth .

Heather Lacey Marketing Executive & Chair of the Disability, Mental Health and Neuro Diversity Group - Eversheds Sutherland LLP - Eversheds Sutherland LLP

Heather Lacey is a multi-award winning disabled activist, D&I writer and speaker. As a young woman embarking upon life at university, Heather became heavily involved in disability advocacy online and began to share her lived experience of disability online as a way to spread awareness of the barriers faced by disabled people in the UK. Her writing – though candid and oftentimes hard-hitting – illuminates yet celebrates the disabled experience and her lived experience cerebral palsy, cPTSD, OCD and the myriad of symptoms she lives with day-to-day.

Heather has worked with a plethora of organisations and charities including Scope, BBC, HuffPost, Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative and AccessAble, and is co-director of Inclusive Minds Collective CIC, working to ensure authentic inclusion in the publishing industry. Heather is actively involved in promoting disability rights in the workplace and chairs pro-manchester’s EDI sub-committee for Disability, Mental Health and Neuro Diversity. During her time at Eversheds Sutherland, Heather has promoted and contributed to the firm’s D&I strategy, acting as co-lead for Manchester’s Wellbeing and Ability network. Heather has featured on the Northern Power Women Future List, been recognised as one of the most influential disabled people on the Shaw Trust Power List multiple times, listed as one of University of Hull and Team GB’s ‘Extraordinary People’, and has been named on the Manchester Evening News’s The Rising Star list: The finest young female lawyers and barristers in Greater Manchester.

Interested In The Event?

If you’re interested in attending, you can book online here.

For any further enquires about this event, contact [email protected]

With thanks to our Partners: