The Lilac Review - Co Founder Amelia Celebrates at Downing St

Earlier this month I was invited by Number 10 Downing Street to not one, but two events! The first as part of a small team of disabled founders to launch The Lilac Review and the second, a breakfast meeting with the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to celebrate Best of British Businesses in the UK and the notable relaunch of the Help to Grow scheme. It was both surreal and utterly incredible to be included as one of the Best of British Businesses; it was definitely a pinch me moment, but of most significance was the launch of The Lilac Review.

Backed by the UK Government, The Lilac Review will investigate the barriers disabled entrepreneurs face, who collectively account for a quarter of the UK’s small business founders.

Despite disabled founders accounting for 25% of small business founders in the UK, they are only contributing 8.6% of small business turnover. So we know there is a huge gap in support & access to resources, one that through research, commitment and action can be changed but more importantly could unlock an additional £230 billion for the UK economy!

Taking our business on full time in 2021 has been a steep learning curve for me personally; running your own business is SO valuable but I’d be lying if I said it was straightforward and more notably - not hindered by having a disability.  Having said this, I'm passionate about the positives my disability has given me, the value it brings when it comes to running a business and I'm dedicated to ensuring more disabled people are given the resources and support to start and grow their own businesses in a way that's accessible and sustainable, which is why being part of this is honestly a dream come true.

Amelia Peckham Co Founder & CEO Cool Crutches at House of Lords Celebrating Entrepreneurs Dedicated to Change

Amelia Peckham, Co Founder Cool Crutches pictured wearing Leopard Cool Crutches at The House of Lords in February 2024

When we started Cool Crutches, mum and I wanted to create something positive for the disabled community, for people like me who wanted to feel like themselves and be empowered by their walking aids. To ditch the grey, inject some fun and give people mobility aids that ticked ALL the boxes; comfortable, safe, certified for long term medical use, silent, practical but most importantly that would complement style, not compromise it! 

What we realised very quickly was the reality of living a disability was so much harder than the first few months after my accident perhaps led us to believe.  Once home from hospital and into the throws of my new disabled life it was clear life with a disability is entrenched in barriers, incredibly hard day to day and, to be completely honest, exhausting to fight for.  Our business was a step in the right direction but the dream was to make real change, not easy but something we have kept at the forefront of everything we do as a business ever since.

A few years after my accident, I left university and starting working a 9-5 job.  I haven't ever worked full time without a disability so despite always struggling, I never thought it was anything other than to be expected, part of the course.  It was only when I had children that continuing to manage my disability with a 9-5 became unsustainable and I decided to take the plunge and try to turn our business into a viable full time job.  

Amelia Peckham CEO Cool Crutches

By doing this I realised, everything my disability had given me was no longer a hindrance, but a huge plus.  If you look at anyone who has successfully founded and grown a business, they have a number of qualities in common - resilience, tenacity, understanding their weaknesses as well as their strengths, an ability to ask for help and knowing they can't do it all on their own to name a few.  The key is that you can't learn these things in a classroom, they come from facing barriers, navigating adversity, making mistakes and never, ever giving up.  Why is this relevant? Because navigating daily life with a disability gives you all these qualities so in fact someone with a disability starting a business has a briefcase packed full of the key components to succeed. 

The downside is that the mechanics needed to start and grow a business aren't readily accessible for disabled people, so despite having all the essentials, there is work to be done to make the steps to grow accessible.  But this CAN be learnt in a classroom so there is hope to make entrepreneurship work for disabled people.  What the stats tell me is that too many disabled people find the same as I did, that working full time or even part time without flexibility isn't sustainable.  Life with a disability and work becomes about surviving and not thriving and the result? It isn't fun or productive, it depletes confidence and can do some serious damage to our health.

It's no surprise then that when I was approached by Lloyds Banking Group and Small Business Britain to take part in research around running a business with a disability, I jumped at the chance to try and help make a change.  It turned out this research kick started what we are now thrilled to say is officially live as, The Lilac Review. 

I was not alone in taking part, in fact Small Business Britain & Lloyds conducted in depth research for the Disability and Entrepreneurship Report which revealed that in fact 84% of disabled founders feel side-lined, without equal access to opportunities or resources. Six in ten disabled entrepreneurs said they received no support when starting up and a further 70% said they lack suitable role models.  Coupled with the knowledge that we face and additional living cost of £1122 (as recorded by Scope in the Cost of Living with Disability Report) due to disability before businesses expenses are even considered, it's no surprise we aren't pumping out millions!


Amelia Peckham Co Founder Cool Crutches at Downing St Launching The Lilac Review

 Amelia pictured at 10 Downing Street wearing Emerald Sky Cool Crutches at the announcement of the Lilac Review


Now I'm fully aware this could be perceived as the government looking to tick a box but I can confidently say it's absolutely not the case. The team behind this review are dedicated and experienced when it comes to supporting diverse founders. Changemakers led by Michelle Ovens CBE, Founder of Small Business Britain make up the Steering Board of incredible disabled founders including Victoria Jenkins, Mark Esho MBE (who happens to be a CC customer too!), Joseph Williams and Martyn Sibley as well as influential businesses dedicated to diversity and inclusion but more importantly, action. Having been lucky enough to be selected as one of the Top 100 Small Businesses in 2023 for Small Business Saturday I've been working with the team for the last year and know first hand their work is exceptional.  

‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ is a phrase that’s we are passionate about, one that's integral to change - we need to be visible, we need to be in the room, part of the conversations and included in the mission to drive change and I'm delighted to say this review does just that!

So here's to the next two years, breaking barriers, carving out a new path for disabled people in the UK and making disabled entrepreneurs a priority. Not only shining a light on the current shortfall but providing a clear and concerted path to resolving it and giving disabled people the chance to thrive in life, business and beyond.  

To find out more about The Lilac Review check out - or sign up to their newsletter, follow @lilacreviewuk on social media or to share your experiences and to be part of the review, email  

If you enjoyed this blog, why not check out:

Celebrating 17 Years of Business: An Interview with Co Founder Clare

Nina Tame: Embracing Disability & Shedding Shame

Dame Prue Leith Wows on Rainbow Zebra Walking Stick



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