Celebrated comedian, Joe Wells, who is possibly best known for his viral clip about the struggles of having a non-autistic brother, will be in Aberdeen in May.

Joe will be speaking at an upcoming conference on the benefits of employing a neurodivergent workforce and creating a workplace culture that supports employees to reach their full potential.

During the one-day event, Neurodiversity in the Workplace - Unlocking Potential and Driving Business Success, Joe will provide an insight into his own lived experience of neurodiversity and how this has contributed to his success.

Joe, who has made a name for himself as a stand-up comic, writer and speaker, has an impressive resume. In recent years he has expanded his material to focus on mental health and being autistic.

He has performed as tour support for Frankie Boyle, Alexei Sayle and Stephen K Amos as well as appearing on BBC2’s ‘Ouch Storytelling Live’ and writing for ‘Have I Got News For You’. He recently took part in Dave’s The Comedy Guide To Life! which was used on its social media channels.

“I’m looking forward to speaking at The Umbrella Project’s Neurodiversity event. It’s an exciting time to be autistic as people are waking up to the, often untapped, potential of neurodivergent people and the benefits of a neurodiverse society,” said Joe.

The conference will be held in Aberdeen on Tuesday, May 30 and will support the return of the popular ADHD Foundation Umbrella Project to Aberdeen.

Strings of coloured umbrellas will once again be seen across the city from the end of May until September, in celebration of the ‘umbrella’ term of neurodiversity, which includes ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyspraxia.

Both the Umbrella Project and the conference are being organised by city centre BID Aberdeen Inspired.

Sponsored by Harbour Energy and TMM Recruitment, the conference will be held at the Aberdeen Douglas Hotel from 8.30am to 2.30pm on May 30, adjacent to the main umbrella installation on Shiprow.

It is aimed at both private and public sector businesses, with separate sessions on neurodiversity being planned for teachers and parents on Monday, May 29.

With 1 in 5 humans being neurodivergent, 1 in 67 of us on the autistic spectrum, 1 in 20 with ADHD or dyspraxia and 1 in 10 with dyslexia, many people have a combination of these differences in how humans process and interact with their environment and the people around them.

Roulè Wood, Business Engagement Manager at Aberdeen Inspired, said: “One of Aberdeen Inspired’s overarching principles is to support local businesses. The Neurodiversity in the Workplace conference contributes to this aim by helping both public and private sector businesses understand steps that they can take to support colleagues who are neurodiverse.

“It’s fantastic to be able to announce Joe’s addition to the event line-up. I have no doubt he will add a light-hearted but insightful contribution to the day’s proceedings as he delivers his take on the common misconceptions of neurodiverse people.

“Conference delegates will also have the chance experience Joe’s razor-sharp wit; they will be able to put questions to him during the conference’s question and answer session.”

The line-up of speakers and contributors for the conference also includes Dr Tony Lloyd, chief executive of the ADHD Foundation, and Professor Amanda Kirby, chief executive of Do-It Solutions and chair of the ADHD Foundation Neurodiversity Charity, who will discuss the use of web-based screening tools in the workplace.

The conference is also set to have a lasting legacy, with an episode of the podcast ‘ADHD As Females’ being recorded at the conference. Dawn-Marie Farmer and Laura Mears-Reynolds' podcast is an exploration of ADHD by two females who are neurodivergent. The podcast has had half a million downloads in 182 countries.

Through ‘ADHD As Females’ they work to raise awareness and break the stigma that surrounds ADHD. They also hope to help others by sharing their experiences. During the conference they will sit down with some of the key speakers from the day and later share highlights from the conference via their podcast.

Laura said: “We are thrilled to be able to share our lived experiences to provide insight into how to better support neurodivergent employees. It’s fantastic to raise awareness locally just as we are all over the UK on our live ‘Too Much’ tour.”

Angela Prentner-Smith, Founder and Managing Consultant at This is Milk, a Scottish consultancy, training, and technology business will address the conference on how maintaining a psychologically safe workplace is part of ensuring you are not just diverse, but fostering a place where everyone can flourish. Angela is a frequent contributing columnist in the Scotsman, advocating the benefits of Neurodiversity in the workplace.

Mavis Anagboso, Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at principal sponsor Harbour Energy, will talk about the company’s strategies for supporting staff who are neurodiverse, while Charlotte Valeur, chair of the Institute of Neurodiversity, a global neurodiversity member organisation with chapters in more than 100 countries, will explore the power of ND networks, sharing practical advice for business.

Amanda McCulloch, Chief Executive of Aberdeen-based TMM Recruitment, which is also supporting the Umbrella Project as co-sponsor of the conference, will be reflecting on the hiring process and discussing inclusive recruiting practices with a panel of local and national experts.

The official Shiprow umbrella installation will join numerous private installations organised by businesses and other organisations, with P&J Live at TECA among the first to sign up to host a mini umbrella installation this summer.

Louise Stewart, Interim Managing Director at P&J Live, said: “P&J Live is proud to support the ADHD Foundation Umbrella project. While this creative, eye-catching installation is fun to have within our venue, the message behind it is incredibly important. As a live events venue, we are wholly inclusive but recognise that there’s still some work to do to within society to challenge the stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences.

“By supporting this fantastic project, in line with our ASM Global Acts initiative that invests in and supports diversity, we hope to open up the conversation to celebrate and respect the unique strengths, talents and perspectives that fall under the neurodiversity umbrella.”

Schools can also get involved in creating their own mini umbrella displays, highlighting neurodiversity in children and young people in educational settings.

Businesses and schools interested in hosting a mini installation this year can sign up on the Aberdeen inspired website, before the April 21 deadline.

The Umbrella Project celebrates the intelligence, ability and talent of every human being- including every neurodiverse individual, empowering and enabling the next generation of children and young people.

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates, a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district.

Places at the Neurodiversity in the Workplace - Unlocking Potential and Driving Business Success conference can be booked at a cost of £95. Aberdeen Inspired levy payers can attend free of charge, subject to availability. To book, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/neurodiversity-in-the-workplace-unlocking-potential-and-driving-innovation-tickets-572690672217.

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