Graduate Story:

Esther Leighton

Esther is a disability justice campaigner who uses the law to fight for social change and accessibility on the high street. 

I came to bootcamp at a point when I felt quite isolated and alone as a disability justice campaigner. When I did my first series of court cases, I experienced terrible media coverage which I was utterly unprepared for. It really shook my belief that I was doing something right. It had a big impact on my emotional wellbeing and how I felt about continuing as an activist.

Bootcamp gave me better media and organisational skills, and an understanding of how to build relationships with other campaigners. There are several individuals who I met at bootcamp that I’m still in touch with. I also learnt to manage my wellbeing, ensuring I don’t take on too many cases at one time. I can be discriminated against several times in a day and I have to make decisions about what is a worthwhile use of my time. Bootcamp has helped me to make much better decisions about where to focus my energies. 

One of my big campaigning achievements happened when I came to an agreement with Konditor, a cake-shop chain. I had problems over a long period of time getting into their shops. I was quite close to taking a court case against them, which led to us having a series of really productive conversations and negotiations. They committed to rolling out disability equality training across their stores, they fixed the lack of ramps issue, and they have been selling cakes in aid of the Disability Justice Project which supports using the law to get rights for disabled people. 

More recently, I have successfully negotiated with a really large transport provider. This will result in a change to transport for disabled people across the UK – a fabulous outcome!

In the future, I would like there to be a basic level of understanding of disability equality in the law so that everyone has some understanding of it and knows enough to know when they or people close to them are being discriminated against. 

Find out more about Esther’s work and her top tips for legal activism here.

Esther Leighton

I have been campaigning on disability rights issues since my teens. I'm interested in disabled children's rights and legal literacy, in particular, at the moment.