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Opening Closed Doors

Everybody has a story. Your story matters

Opening Closed Doors is a podcast about life journeys. Inspiring conversations with people who have chosen to open a closed door and shut another behind them. Stories of rejection to appreciation, loss to discovery, pain to purpose.

Everyone has a story and everybody's story matters.

Everyone has a story that will resonate, inspire and educate.

Certified holistic life coach, Sophia Nicholls, is the host of the show. She  is an international speaker with over 20 years in leadership and advocacy. As the host, Sophia Nicholls will guide you through these inspiring stories.

If you would like to work with Sophia towards achieving your purpose and life goals, book a free 20 min 121 discovery call. Follow this link 

Mar 25, 2024

Tapping untapped talent with Claire Cookson

Growing up in a family who advocated for change for people with learning disabilities Claire Cookson is now an award winning CEO for the DFN Foundation.

Claire relates her experience of changing lives not only for people with autism and other disabilities but also for the employees of the partner organisations her charity, DFN, work with to provide well paid sustainable jobs for people living with autism and other disabilities.

Working with the  National Grid to provide work opportunities for the clients who are supported by her charity, Claire states the following experiences by the partnering organisation:

'We then started to find that our satisfaction went up, we heard all the time, people would say like, I've never felt more proud to work for national grid or that was my first experience. I never felt more proud. So actually, then what do you get from your employees, you get more commitment, you get them coming to work, feeling like hang on a minute, my job now feels really different. I suddenly feel like I'm making a difference to humans and actually, if we boil everything down, that's where you get a good feeling. That's where you feel like you've got a purpose, then grid started to benefit from this amazing talent pool'. 

She goes on to share how the project creates safe spaces for employees to share personal experiences and employee networks for supporting people with learning disabilities at work.

About Claire Cookson

Chief Executive Officer of the DFN Foundation and DFN Project SEARCH, Claire is an experienced senior leader with an extensive background in education and best practice supported employment. Formally a headteacher of a broad spectrum special school, Claire now leads a fast growing charity that seeks to support best practice transition to employment for people with learning disabilities and autism. Nationally only 5.1% of people with these needs are in paid employment yet 70% of those supported by this charity secure paid roles. With the largest data set in the UK, DFN Project SEARCH’s evidence based model challenges misconceptions and changes the way society views and enables young adults with learning disabilities and autism to ensure that they reach their true and full potential.

Connect with Claire Cookson
Twitter: @dfnsearch
LinkedIn -
Email -


Sophia is a Transformational Holistic Life Coach, Mentor,  Global Virtual Summit convenor, Host, Moderator, International Speaker, Educator, Disability Advocate and Outstanding Leadership award winner. Through coaching Sophia inspires and empowers her clients, to discover the life they dream of by assisting them to ‘get unstuck’.

If you would like Sophia to connect with Sophia or book an investigation appointment, use this link