What others say

Here are some of the comments we have received from individuals and organisations who have used Breaking Down Barriers.

“When asked what in their course had been particularly useful, participants in the Managing for Diversity course all cited the session with Breaking down Barriers. From my point of view as the course tutor, Barbara and Samira’s insightful narratives created more interest in equality and diversity than anything I could have done.”

Judith Secker
Professional Development Adviser
Oxford Learning Institute
University of Oxford

“We stumbled on Breaking Down Barriers by accident as we were looking for a guest speaker for our Annual Staff Conference on Celebrating Individuality. From the moment  I spoke with Barbara I knew we’d hit gold. We ended up asking one of her speakers (Peter) to deliver our key note address and another (Julie ) to run one of our seminars. Through powerful storytelling, we had an insight into walking in someone else’s shoes and time to self reflect. Some of the comments from our conference feedback are shown below. We won’t hesitate to use Barbara, or any of her colleagues, in raising awareness of equality issues in our workplace. Thank you Barbara, Peter and Julie!”

• Issues that the guest speaker shared with us were very   enlightening
• Excellent guest speaker and an education to us all
• The highlight for me was the main speaker
• The guest speaker was also excellent and I hope everyone listened and  will adapt their behaviour from his message
• I am now more aware of the value of external speakers sharing their experiences. I hope to find ways to incorporate them into students’ learning.
• The speaker Peter from Breaking Down Barriers was also excellent

Su Breadner
Director of Human Resources
Gateshead College

“BSUH has been working with Breaking down barriers for almost a year, the training/guest speakers provided have always been of the highest calibre, some of the comments that have been received from staff are as follows:

•Thought provoking
•Have recommended to colleagues
•Delivery excellent”

Barbara Harris
Equality & Diversity Manager
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals


“Barbara’s stories about her experiences as a black woman living in a Sussex village are simple in the telling as all good stories are. They are also as complex as they are compelling as she gradually pulls back the curtain on her life and people’s responses’ to her difference. In her ability to get to the heart of the matter Barbara achieves in an hour what we, as professional Diversity Trainers, could not achieve with our learners in a year.”

Mark Purdy M.A (Education)
Sussex Police Diversity Training Team


“Breaking Down Barriers is an inspirational organisation. Their speakers share a range of experiences that make you really think about how you and your organisation treat people from disadvantaged groups. They make us think about how we relate to others, how we all ought to challenge both deliberate and inadvertent discrimination in society and how important it is to do this sensitively to spread positive messages. A great organisation and great speakers with messages that need to be shouted far and wide.”

Pam Mitchell
Regional Operations Manager for the South East
Age UK


“Barbara is a gifted communicator who uses real stories from her life to show many of the challenges faced by black Britons today. Her insights inspire others to address the silent prejudice within and to work towards understanding between diverse cultures. Truly inspirational!”

Nicky Powell


“Thank you for your outstanding contribution to developing diversity training in Sussex Police. Your courage in sharing personal experiences with us has been instrumental in reminding staff at every level why diversity training is important and its relevance to our mission to protect the public.”

Joe Edwards QPM
Former Chief Constable – Sussex Police


“Since October 2008 Victim Support has been managing a Hate crime and Hate Incident reporting and support service in East and West Sussex. This is a service which encourages people who are targeted because of their race, nationality, faith, sexuality, gender identity of their disability, to report it and access the support of the Service. Too often people who are suffering from such crimes and incidents feel unwilling or unable to tell anybody about it and in consequence suffer in silence. The service is independent of the police and other statutory bodies and is entirely confidential.

There are many barriers which stop people from reporting incidents of hate, and the service has been to the fore in raising awareness of the extent of the problem, and in building the confidence of individuals and communities to come forward. Only then can people, often vulnerable and suffering, get the help and support they need. And there is help out there.
Victim Support has been very pleased to have worked very closely with the Breaking down Barriers organisation, and in particular their founder Barbara Rowe throughout the life of the Service. Their expertise and personal experiences have prepared the Service for the challenges it has faced in removing some of the obstacles that stop people coming forward. Barbara has made numbers of presentations to training and awareness raising days, and is truly inspirational in raising awareness of the challenges facing minority communities. Victim Support was very pleased to be asked to make an input to the Breaking Down Barriers conference in Brighton in 2010.

The work of the Service, together with its supporters, in raising awareness of hate crime and encouraging reporting has begun to show some rewards. During the current year (2011/12) reporting has increased substantially, as people feel able to start talking about what has happened to them. Specialist case workers are then able to offer one-to-one support, sometimes over a long period of time.”

Graham E Hill
East & West Sussex Victim Support


“Breaking down barriers training is a breath of fresh air. It is honest, up front and hits at the heart of prejudice and discrimination. The training empowered our staff to examine their values and created a highly stimulating debate. We look forward to inviting the team in again to talk to students and follow up with staff. Breaking down barriers both challenged and inspired us.”

Karen Shaw
Asst Head for Inclusion
Robert Woodard Academy

“I included Barbara and her Breaking Down Barriers session on the programme of our Annual Governors Conference because I wanted to bring home to school governors the need to accept that even in a county like East Sussex diversity issues have a significant impact on individual’s lives. The stimulus of Barbara’s stories generated a free and thoughtful response from the governors present. They explored and shared their own experiences to great effect. An extremely skilfully led session.”

Peter Davidson
Governor Services Manager
CfBT Education Trust


“Sabera led us through thinking about and discussing many issues including difference, values and beliefs in a non threatening but challenging way. She suggested ways that prejudice might develop and structures to help clarify what happens. Sabera also gave a clear description of the legal frameworks related to discrimination. My understanding of the issues around diversity, prejudice and discrimination have certainly been enhanced through this session. The engaging presentation style readily lends itself to work within schools and could form a useful addition to the PSHE curriculum for secondary aged pupils”

Denise Ford
Principle Educational Psychologist
Head of Early Years Teaching & Support

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all” (Aristotle)

“Learning about the ways in which we interact, our feelings, values, motivations, and attitudes are as important as the development of knowledge and mental and physical skills. Barbara and her team seek to open up a conversation that allows us to explore an individual’s experience of difference. Each speaker creates a safe environment for participants to first listen and then discuss aspects of diversity. The facilitators enable participants to extend and develop their learning beyond that of individual experiences and participants leave the sessions energized and ready to put in place some of the actions that they have identified for their workplace.”

Hazel Squire
Associate Advisor – West Sussex Council

“We were delighted to have Barbara speak at our forum meeting. It certainly left a buzz when she left and everything went very well. The delivery was just right for our size of group and she managed to involve everyone who wanted to speak. I think our members could have sat with her for the whole day. I have heard her speak before so was surprised to be even more engrossed the second time around.”

Peter Mustow
Chair of BME workers forum – Brighton and Hove City Council


“In 2008 Working Links decided to take a different approach to educating our people about Diversity. We didn’t want to talk about legislation and pick out specific groups of people. We wanted to build on a culture of respecting individuals for their uniqueness and that’s where Breaking Down Barriers came in.

Barbara and her team at Breaking Down Barriers helped us with a nationwide road show for all of our managers. 

The feedback from the training days was overwhelmingly positive, with most people leaving with the aim to do things differently. On the back of this training we ran a Dignity at Work week which enabled managers to really get to know their teams and their teams to really get to know them. We have trained a number of people to carry out Equality Impact Assessments so we are confident that our policies and procedures do not discriminate against any of our people.

In 2009 we were awarded the Brighton and Hove Business award for ‘Equality and Diversity in the workplace’. Some of Barbara’s team joined us for the celebration meal.

Barbara’s approach to educating people is refreshingly modern; it engages individuals and makes us question how we do things. I certainly plan to continue working with Barbara to make Working Links famous for its approach to diversity.”

Clare Davey
HR Director – Working Links


“The session that I saw Barbara deliver to school staff succeeded in engaging them at the end of a challenging day. Staff were clearly moved by Barbara’s stories, as I was, and reported that the session had developed their understanding of racism and unconscious bias. Barbara’s input supported school staff to then think about their setting and what they needed to do to make it a safe place for all.”

Sam Beal   
Partnership Adviser: Health and Wellbeing, 
Standards and Achievement Team, Brighton & Hove City Council


“There is no greater experience and learning than that of life. Input from Guest Speakers impacts learning in a way that no teacher, textbook or e-learning package could ever come close.”

Andy Schofield, IFL Cert Ed
Advanced Skills Practitioner – West Sussex Council