Following last nights appearance on Channel 4 i’d like to air my personal views regarding my disability and Scopes End The Awkward Campaign. *All thoughts are my own and not those of Channel 4 or Scope.
Hi everyone, SO last night my first ever news/TV feature went live and after the high of yesterday, learning more about the media industry, how film is produced and edited and actually doing a bit of hidden camera work (that there wasn’t time to show). I have mixed feelings that I’d like to explain in a blog post.
“They” say if you put yourself out there and are ever featured online or in mainstream media to NEVER READ THE COMMENTS. So what was the first thing I did? I read the comments. Now don’t get me wrong, the comments weren’t particularly negative, and i’ve heard loads of lovely things from family, friends and colleagues, but I do feel that I need the chance to elaborate as obviously the segment on the news was short and there wasn’t time to air my full interview or my whole opinion on the issue. That is no one’s fault as I could literally talk forever and I think I did go on for far too long!
I recently got involved with Scope following years, (26 of them) of ignoring my disability, not talking about it, learning more about it and basically pretending it didn’t exist. I was approached by Scope through a friend to help them share and discuss their End The Awkward campaign. Now after 26 years of becomming who I am and building a life for myself I felt it was the right time to get involved! I’ve always wanted to work with a charity and I still support various charities, because, well why not! I think we all should.
Scope are the perfect charity for me, they help other disabled people, they are controversial, forward thinking and modern. For the first time I felt that I could talk about MY disability completely openly and the “slow down you’ll get a speeding ticket” jokes are literally the tip of the iceberg. My internal purpose throughout this is to add MY story to the thousands of amazing stories already shared with Scope and their supporters. AND my story hasn’t even been touched upon yet.
When someone asks you “what remarks have you had in the past” you answer the question… and when doing so you try and remain PC and you also try not to dig too deep and keep things light. I’ve had plenty of remarks that I would never tell anyone about(at least not yet), because I am a fair person, I care about other people and I give them the benefit of the doubt. I can do that because i’ve learnt throughout my life with fantastic family support, amazing friends and a supportive husband to be strong, to take things on the chin and to stand up for myself (obviously not literally). There are times, like all people, disabled and non that I have felt let down, embarrassed, left out, not capable and just a down right annoyance! But there are also times that i’ve felt empowered, proud of myself, like a role model and most of the time just like a “normal” person.
I suppose the reason for this blog is to state, most of the time I am completely normal. Most of the time I don’t think or talk about MY disability as to me it’s not relevant (I am very lucky with that). The reason I am doing what I am doing with Scope is to help people, to show that disability isn’t a big thing, to reduce and combat barriers, and to show young disabled kids with huge personalities that there is no difference between them and anyone else!
I am simply trying to #EndTheAwkward for everyones sake, I am not trying to point the finger, I am not trying to make anyone feel bad. In fact quite the opposite, I am trying my hardest to eliminate awkward first encounters (for both parties) for me it’s just as awkward for non disabled people, i’ll admit i’ve seen someone else with a disability that I didn’t understand and i’ve tried myself to be tactical, i’ve tried not to offend because as people that’s what most of us do. It’s hard. BUT on the flip-side it’s hard for the person having to ask for help, the person who feels embarrassed and the person who feels they are not good enough. No matter how confident you are, no matter what you overcome in life there comes a time where maybe you don’t want help, you are trying to appear strong.
Yesterday was the first time that I was actually consciously aware (because I had a go pro on to catch people reactions to me) of how people treated me/looked at me etc. and there was a great mix.. some people avoided me, some people stared at me and other people smiled at me, held open doors for me and were just all round lovely. I’ll be very clear and say I do not notice this on a daily basis as it’s not the first thing that I think about when I wake up, but the whole experience was lovely! It made me feel confident, it made me see these lovely people and the people that weren’t so lovely and think about all the different types of people out there. It made me want to talk to people more, it made me want to hold my head up even higher and it made me happy about the world that we live in, because fully “educated” or not, we are all people and we are all lucky to be here. We waste way too much time shuffling about staring at our feet and our phones, people will loves us or hate us but if we don’t try… no one will know us!
I want people to know me, and I want to know people! I want to discuss, debate, and learn. It’s important that we open our minds to all people, of all cultures, religions, race, ability and age and try our utmost to understand them, to listen to their life story. When I think about End The Awkward, I think about PEOPLE, I want people to feel better. I want people to enjoy and embrace life. I want to remove the anger, the bitterness, the lack of communication and the judgement.
Basically I want us all to be friends! This seems to be a massive list of wants, but as Drake famously says, YOLO.