Stephen Aselford was the longest serving trustee of Status Employment. When I was first appointed as Chief Executive, Stephen was one of the first trustees to welcome me to the Job. One of the first things he warned me was that my job was not only not easy, but it was vitally important. What struck me about Stephen was his passion. He had tremendous passion for his beloved Labour Party the betterment of disabled people, and London Transport. Stephen was a committed trustee of Status Employment and during his time I only remember him missing one meeting and that was because it clashed with a transport meeting.
He took his role incredibly seriously often very successfully giving the voice of a service user. On numerous occasions, and in one sentence managed to say what many of us had been trying to say for 20 minutes. He had good contacts especially within the Labour party where he managed to persuade a fringe meeting at conference to have myself there to explain supported employment and the best way of helping people find employment.
When I first met Stephen he was employed at Crosfield factories; he was very upset when he found out the factory was going to be closed and he was going to be made redundant. It was at that time I fully realised the maturity of Stephen, Status Employment was brought in to help those affected by redundancies find employment. He was brilliant at being able to understand that he might have to wear two hats. The hat of a candidate and the hat of a trustee. He knew this was never going to be easy, but he managed to pull it off in the usual Stephen style. He even suggested that we should put a workshop together to a European Union of Supported Employment conference about supported factory closures, where he went down a storm with delegates.
Stephen subsequently found a job with People’s First in Lambeth, working on a social inclusion project. This was an ideal role for Stephen as it brought out all of his attributes; Energy, Vitalism, cheerfulness and dogged campaigning. He made a big difference in that role for many people with a learning disability. When he left that role it allowed him more time with the many groups in Croydon that he supported; who all befitted from his energy.
Stephen Aselford made a massive contribution to Status Employment and he has touched all of our lives. Most of all I will miss his chats about the fortunes of the Labour party, advising me on the best bus journeys to get and of the many links and introductions he made in the furtherance of disability rights. We were very fortunate to have Stephen as a trustee of Status; as fellow trustee Stephen Fitzgerald said “Stephen was a huge advocate of employment rights. He took his role as a trustee with passion and integrity and in his fight for disability rights he will always be remembered by Status Employment.