Student receives Social Mobility Award in prestigious ceremony at the House of Lords

Determination to succeed and help other students with autism overcome barriers at university has seen a Drama student from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) receive an award at this year’s Student Social Mobility Awards.

Autism advocate Tom Norris was presented the award in a prestigious ceremony at the House of Lords by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, for defying the odds to achieve outstanding success in the creative industries sector.


The awards are organised by social mobility charity upReach to showcase the achievements of undergraduates from lower socio-economic backgrounds across the UK.

Tom, who has spent his own life negotiating his way with autism was recognised by upReach for his own personal determination and success as well as his dedication as a Liberation Officer at DMU, helping others with autism overcome barriers to succeed.

Tom said: “It is an honour receiving this award, I am proud of the work I have put in and will continue to put in, I have always said people with autism and disabilities are human too.

“We want to lead normal lives with the right support, we have dreams and inspirations, we want to work jobs that we are passionate about”

He added: “The arts need more people with disabilities like autism. Let’s break down the barriers!

“I have faced many barriers myself. I was told I would never achieve anything when I was younger which made me feel sad but because I have had support from youth services to teachers, I believe that those people have helped me become who I am today.

“Yes, being autistic does lead me to doubt myself sometimes but I think that people should be who they are.”

He continued: “My advice to anyone who is autistic and wanting a career in the theatre industry or the arts in general is to go for it, you can achieve things that only you put your mind to, ignore those who say you can't because they don't know you or what you can achieve, also the arts need more people with disabilities like autism.

“I hope that one day that this will increase funding for social mobility and that an era where people don't have to worry about things such as paying for university will come.”

This is the fourth year the awards have taken place and was the biggest to date, with over 250 undergraduate nominations, with nominees from 35 different universities.

Stephanie Lieber, Acting CEO at upReach said: “upReach is proud to shining a spotlight on both students who have excelled, and the organisations that have paved the way for them to do so.

“Having overcome significant socioeconomic barriers and mitigating circumstances, these winners and nominees serve as inspiring role models for those from similar backgrounds, encouraging them to set their ambitions high and realise their full potential.”

Posted on Tuesday 26th July 2022

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