Dr. Amo Raju OBE has an incredible and inspiring story that sees him going from disabled bhangra singer to successful CEO. He has defied the limiting early expectations of authority, family and community that said he should not aspire to living a ‘mainstream’ life.
Living with a disability from birth was never going to hold Amo back. With a fearless and forthright resolve to succeed, he has pushed and smashed boundaries with a journey filled with success but peppered with periods of depression and mental health.
His achievements include stints in the bhangra music industry, politics, commerce and now as an author of his book ‘Walk Like A Man’ based on his many life experiences and also his very secret relationship with his fluctuating state of mental health and depression.
Amo has made regular appearances on Talk TV and GB News, sharing about issues around charities and disability, as well as delivering a Tedx talk with the same name as his book.
After rebelling as a teenager, Amo became a bhangra singer, making and recording a number of bhangra hits. But when he got too old for this he tried to get a job but was not successful, marking the start of his mental health challenges. He went to his GP and asked for help, thinking it would be in the form of a pill but instead, he was offered therapy, an experience that changed his life.
Not long later he started volunteering for the charity Disability Direct which supports disabled people and carers. Four years later in 1997 he became the charity’s CEO. To date he is responsible for the generation of £28m in grants, contracts and trading ensuring complete stability for vital services.
Many charities are, according to Amo, too soft and too dependent on government and council handouts, rather than being run in a business-like fashion. The financial success and security of Disability Direct is thanks to selling services to generate income that goes back into the charity, as well running as a social enterprise which supports young people with learning difficulties while also earning valuable income for the charity.
Since 2022 Amo has received numerous awards and accolades including a Doctorate from the University of Derby, an OBE for his exceptional services to disabled people, carers and the awareness of mental health; most recently the Lifetime Achiever Award at the ITV National Diversity Awards.’
Amo talks with the lived experience and goes deep into topics smashing taboo areas with an honesty which ensures those who listen begin to question their own areas of internal conflict and need for development. He will tackle serious subjects with an ability to keep you engaged with periodic humorous examples of how he wrestled with his own demons.
‘Amo Raju is a bit of a contradiction. He’s forthright, fearless and outspoken. A smooth operator in the often jumbled up world of disability charity.’
The BBC Politics Show
‘Amo Raju is an achiever and will go on to continue to achieve.’
Claire Balding TV Presenter
‘Amo is a relentless warrior against inequality. He battles both outer-injustices and inner demons. Yet he fearlessly transforms personal frustrations into a force for positive change.’
Dr. Clenton Farquarson CBE Chair of TLAP
‘We booked Amo Raju as an after dinner speaker for our Asian Professionals National Alliance (APNA) NHS Awards Evening 2023, which had over 200 NHS leaders from across the country to take part in the presentation of 13 Awards. Amo was an excellent speaker, both in the inspirational life journey he shared with us on the intersectionality of being a South Asian man and having a disability, and his very engaging and humorous manner of delivery. From Bhangra singer to CEO, we were all captivated and inspired, with a few laughs along the way. APNA would highly recommend Amo as an event speaker’.