Lyla has nearly 25 years of experience in multi-disciplinary approaches in research, participation, and finding creative techniques for people to express themselves and lead. Lyla has a particular interest in the power and value of user-led approaches. Having worked across the corporate, community and development sectors in the UK, Sierra Leone, and Ghana, Lyla has considerable experience in social inclusion, policy and strategic development, and inclusive grant-making.
She is currently a Team Leader at Options Consultancy Services Ltd, leading a four-year UK Aid-funded mental health and disability programme in Ghana called Ghana Somubu Dwumadie (Ghana Participation Programme). Lyla provides strategic organisational and technical leadership, overseeing a complex 5-partner consortium structure and an expert-embedded team of 20 people. As well as managing relationships with a broad range of governmental and civil society stakeholders, Lyla oversees a vibrant grants programme supporting organisations of people with disabilities as well as self-help groups and civil society.
Her work on this nationwide programme has included implementing policy change, scaling up services and addressing stigma and discrimination in disability and mental health, in particular, supporting the establishment of a mental health review tribunal, a critical human rights function of the 2012 mental health legislation which was not previously implemented. While at Options, Lyla has contributed to a number of papers, including in BMC Psychiatry and Health and Social Care in the Community with further papers under development.
Prior to joining Options, Lyla worked for seven years as the CEO of Merton Centre for Independent Living, which delivers advice and advocacy support to disabled people in the London Borough of Merton, UK. She has also worked in a freelance capacity in Sierra Leone and the UK working on issues such as hate crime against disabled people, diverse and inclusive communications good practice, livelihoods, and maternal healthcare. She has held posts with diverse organisations and volunteered with VSO. She has been a member of the Market Research Society since 2008.
Lyla has an MSc in Social Anthropology from University College, London, and a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Leeds.
I'm inspired by the disability rights mantra of 'nothing about us, without us'. If we hold this as a truth, then all change-making must be undertaken collaboratively and must be user-led. I believe that supporting people directly affected by issues to be changemakers, is the main route to lasting change.