When disabled people don’t care about blocking pavements is the battle lost? 

Since setting up a local Access Group focusing on,  improving unsurprisingly,  Access in the area I live there has been many times when I have felt that people act as they do because they do not fully appreciate the issues faced by others. It is not exclusively for disabled people as Access covers a wide range of people. Pushchair access and LGBT acceptance are just two areas of Access that go beyond being disabled. 

Each area has it’s own issues but by far the biggest area of complaints the Access Group receive surround parking. Either people abusing disabled parking bays using them when they don’t have a badge, the response to challenging behaviour being I’m just running in and out or there are other spaces free blah, blah blah blah or even worse – well you don’t look disabled so it’s none of your business. The truth is it is everybody’s business, Disabled or not challenge others as a caring community. A free car parking space some weeks is the difference between me seeing people and me returning home not getting out and feeling very low. Especially when I can see cars without badges displayed. This does go both ways and blue badge holders are guilty of parking in parent and toddler bays and unless they are parents with toddlers with them they should not park there either. It is this mutual disrespect (a bit like cyclists and car users have developed) which causes people to have the mentality it doesn’t matter. As a wheelchair user I can tell you it really does matter. 

The real problem is however that as a group we are trying to educate people the importance of these spaces. The wheelchair users who need the wider bays, the colon cancer or crohns disease sufferer who needs to be close to the entrance to run in to the toilet to avoid embarrassment, and all so people think twice when they park. 

In recent months I’ve spoken to postmen, delivery drivers and bin men regarding parking and keeping pavements free. Another problem is vehicles parking on pavements and blocking them so that parents with pushchairs cannot get past and nor can people in wheelchairs or on mobility scooters. Visually impaired people can have accidents the list is endless. I have explained this to postmen and delivery drivers who have been understanding when I’ve spoken to them and generally when I explain what issues their parking has caused they are respectful and listen. More often it is the general public who are rude, aggressive and intimidating when challenged. I recently thanked the local binmen as they have little time to collect and return bins an average if about 10 seconds I believe, but even still they get the bins put back out the way and keep the paths clear for people who need it this is great and I felt it deserved a thank you. 

After all this, why the title. Well today we took my LG around our cul de sac on her balance bike. I can’t do it on my own as if she falls I cannot pick her and her bike up again, so guilty as I feel we make the most of days together. We’re going around our road and 5 houses round the corner and a little red car is blocking the pavement so we go into the road, in the door I can see a blue badge wallet. To make the journey worse almost opposite once we get around the cul de sac is another car blocking the pavement and I find myself reversing and back down and into the road. Going past the vehicle it is a WAV (wheelchair accessible vehicle) complete with person hoist and ramp inside. I have to ask myself, if we cannot get drivers or passengers with complicated needs and wheelchair users to park considerately for others in a similar condition what hope for converting other’s habits??

I certainly won’t give up as there is so much more to achieve to make Wymondham Accessible and I hope to be able to start educating the next generation so they are understanding and compassionate. They will also probably have more success in shaming their parent’s to move than I ever could. Making it illegal and more easily enforceable would be a start but Rome wasn’t built in a day. 

5 Things I Don’t Admit on Bad Pain Days | The Mighty

THIS IS A WELL WRITTEN ARTICLE THAT COULD BE FROM MANY PEOPLE WHO SUFFER CHRONIC PAIN, ILLNESS OR DISEASE. REMEMBER ALSO THAT PEOPLES PAIN IS ALL RELATIVE – MY PAIN IS UNIQUE TO ME, MY BAD DAYS ARE LIKE THIS

Woman shares about her struggles with chronic pain, including taboo topics.

Source: 5 Things I Don’t Admit on Bad Pain Days | The Mighty

Response to the Viral Photo of Me on a Mobility Cart at Grocery Store | The Mighty

NEXT TIME YOU LOOK AT THOSE FUNNY PHOTOS THINK OF THE PERSON IN THEM

A woman who was photographed tipping over on her mobility cart at the grocery store responds to people who think she’s lazy.

Source: Response to the Viral Photo of Me on a Mobility Cart at Grocery Store | The Mighty

Mum’s the word

There are many things in this world that frustrate me as a disabled person, but I have to say some of the most frustrating things have nothing to do with my disability and more because I am a stay at home dad. 

This pathway, or lifestyle choice has been partially chosen due to my disability getting worse but it was always the plan of ours that my wife would return to work full-time. After all she has spent a decade earning 2 degrees to do her job. Out of all the jobs I have done I expected being a daddy would be the hardest but most fulfilling one I’ve had. So far it isn’t failing to live up to my expectations with one small exception, breaking into the mummy world, mum’s mornings, mumsnet, mummy social and any other number of “mummy” experiences. I get frustrated at the amount of times I see posters with these on, or events run for stay at home mums, or mums that make and so on, I really do get the need for bonding and ensuring that new mums have support but dads do too, and there is no rule book that I’ve seen that says that support has to be mutually exclusive. 

Don’t get me wrong I speak to, and have, I think, made friends with a number of the parents in the playground. I am lucky that some went to school with me and some know my nieces so I’ve had insider trading if you like into this murky world. I’m yet to be fully invited or initiated or whatever rites of passage I need to undertake to be officially accepted in to the playground world of mums. Why I here you cry would I want in……. Well quite simply it’s because I don’t want my LG to miss out on play dates, having friends over and in the future after school groups, sports, playing, sleepovers etc. 

I get that after giving birth hormones are all over the place and there are mummy groups, I also understand why a daddy isn’t welcomed with open arms at these. I mean I openly admit I have no interest in debating the breast/bottle and I have no experience in being able to encourage other mums in the latest techniques. Nor can I sit and discuss degree tears or pelvic floor exercises (I have a niece and sister who are midwives so I understand the terms and I do have qualifications in fitness and exercise so I could teach pelvic floor techniques so I could do both) it is a world where a man is not welcome and I understand this. Unfortunately it is also where new friendships are formed. I missed out on baby massage when my LG was young, I missed out on many other classes and although most have been rebranded parent and toddler the world of acceptance is a funny one and these remain predominantly female. The friendships from these groups mean that the playground dynamics are already set and trying to infiltrate them are harder than being an MI6 agent. Mum’s go out regularly together and as a dad these invites do not extend to me. There are other dads in the playground but by the dynamics we say Hi but little more. 

In a world where we are fighting for equal pay and equal rights it remains curious that we have not made significant changes in the playground and the world of equality here is certainly reversed, it is very much a mummy dominated place even though more and more dads, grandparents and childminders become ever present. We sometimes focus on the repression all the time that we miss other things go staring us in the face. 

The friendship and bonds for many have already been made at playgroups or older siblings and it makes new member entry limited. It cuts down the number of play dates I have been invited on I am sure. People don’t want a strange man entering their homes, similarly you wouldn’t trust the care of your child into that of a strange man, but the friends made over years of groups is different for them and the world of mums. They don’t worry about others looking after their children Maybe having a LG I too subconsciously have been more aware of this. I mean our friends have left sons with me, I’ve looked after my nieces, I’m confident I can look after other people’s children. However my LG’s friends only see me for a few minutes each day, how do they judge if I am capable of looking after their child. All I know is that as the main carer for our LG I want her to grow up experiencing as many things as possible, I want her to be strong, independent and focused, I want her to be caring and understanding and to live her life and love with all her heart. Even though I know this can lead to hurt. 

I worry however that the inequality at the school gates will hold her back. It isn’t however being disabled that is what holds her back, it is being male. I’ll talk to most people I have a laugh with many parents I just feel I missed out on the opportunity to bond with other parents so that they can entrust their children into my care. 

I have watched a good friend filming the Unison women’s conference this past week and have been amazed at how far we are yet to come but also how many amazing people there are out there fighting to make a difference, to improve the world we share. I can’t however help but think they are preaching to the converted and the message needs to go further afield. We need to start looking at everyone as individuals capable of achieving anything. World Book Day is coming up and my little girl want to be Peter Pan, well is going to be Peter Pan and already she’s been told he’s a boy, and she should be Tinkerbell. I’ve told her I’m happy she’s Peter Pan, but worryingly these inequalities, these gender stereotypes are being introduced at a very young age and it is not made any easier if you do not fit the norm to a society established decades ago. 

First Bus response to Supreme Court ruling ‘treats disabled people with contempt’

A bus company forced to change its policies after a ground-breaking Supreme Court access case has been accused of treating disabled peple and the legal system with contempt, after it revealed the m…

Source: First Bus response to Supreme Court ruling ‘treats disabled people with contempt’

Landmark victories or more red tape?

This past few weeks have been very busy for the courts, for disabled campaigners, for disabled people and for the various committees, government departments, ministers, and those tasked with protecting the rights of some of the most vulnerable in society. They are all there with the goal of supposedly allowing us the opportunity of integrating into society and allowing us to enjoy some form of independence, some form of enjoyment, sport, cinema trips, theatre, even a simple trip to the park with family. The reality is none of this is simple there is a huge national campaign for #changingplaces and these are desperately needed so that disabled persons are not changed on floors, buses and trains are inaccessible and require forward planning, booking of assistance and numerous other things. There is rarely the opportunity for a disabled person to wake up see the sun is changing unexpectedly and deciding there and then they are going out. I watched a you tube clip recently that had someone using a go pro to show what it was like taking their child to the toilet on the odd occasion they treat them to a day out. some 30 minutes later and a trek into a shopping centre they return.

Now this isn’t meant to be a woe is me post, the reality is I have it so much better than some, although so much worse than others but it is about making the most of what you have. It is difficult to do this when there are so many barriers in place. I hope to one day watch a high standard football match live again, although locally the opportunity due to a lack of facilities and the seating arrangements/shortage of spaces etc make it impossible. I cannot remember the last time we went out without google searching facilities, parking, access, contacting the place to discuss what is there, what else is nearby and so on. I just can’t help but feel that every time a new article like the ones below come out, and judgements like today come out (that are so woolly in the details) that although they are considered victories I can’t help but think it just means more red tape is created, more training is then required to give people the skills to do what is needed of them and funding isn’t available, more hoops are placed in front of people who in my experience truly do want to help it is when you go up the food chain, see the financial “burden” it will place on the company and out it goes. Nevermind the financial burden I place on my family, it is good that as people they didn’t decide that I wasn’t needed.

I want to be positive about them, I want to think that good will come from people revealing how embarrassed they were when they were forced to soil themselves or they blog about trashed wheelchairs. I want people to stop putting a price on what is right to help other human beings, assistive technology is out there, yes it is expensive but what price freedom and independence? Many of the owners of the companies that make millions claim they cannot afford to really? Even the simple blue badge bays are amazing for us to do simple things like shop. These are not really monitored by the shops/car park operators indeed I even had a person recently say to me there’s nothing we can do about it if people park there. I have two issues with that one – why would anyone take up a space of a blue badge holder if they do not have a blue badge, it is selfish and lazy, and two why can’t companies do something about it. In a supermarket repeatedly say over the loud speaker system about the car being parked there, embarrass them into moving it, stop thinking about profits and start thinking about disabled people. If you see someone park in them challenge them politely as a disabled person I have forgotten to put my badge in and I would not be offended if someone reminded me, nor would I be bothered if someone working in the shops asked to see the photo to see if the right person was present when the badge is being used. The system does get abused embarrass those too. I can’t believe clubs like Liverpool and all their millionaire stars who like the positive photos going to hospitals and so on cannot get the facilities right at their stadiums!

I hope you enjoy some of the articles attached, and I know that I am proud of people like Doug Paulley who take on the companies and challenge the systems and win these rulings for us all, I can’t help but think the system itself is broken though when everything has to be fought for!

Disabled Access: Premier League Clubs Could Face Sanctions

Wheelchair v Buggy Supreme Court Case

No guarantee of help for disabled passengers

Paralympian forced to wet herself on train