>You Can Hate Me But You Won’t Break Me

>First of all, I am only sharing this story because I think it needs to be shared.  I don’t want you to feel sorry for me and I don’t want to blow it out of proportion.

As I was coming along the main road (on the path, obviously) this afternoon in my powerchair a guy in a van leaned out of his fully open window, looked right at me and yelled something at me.  The only word I heard clearly was “chair” But I think it was “walk not wheelchair.”

Not very nice.  At all.  And yet I’m luckier than Incurable Hippie who had a much more scary experience last night.

He wasn’t trying to tell me something was wrong with my chair, I checked and it was fine. Plus, I’ve had people driving past me do that before and they’ve always stopped to be sure I heard them.  “oh you’re bag’s fallen off the back” that sort of thing

I’m bothered about shouting at about that but I didn’t want to make a big fuss and having it recorded as a disability hate crime (although, technically, that’s what it is.)  However at the beginning of this year I promised myself I wasn’t going to be a doormat and was going to stand up for myself as much as possible with all those people who I don’t know but who demand to know why I’m in a wheelchair or when I’ll be “better” or all those sorts of ridiculous non of their business questions.  And so far this year I’ve done it twice with limited success. And once when maybe I should have (when someone laughed at me in the doctors waiting room) I wasn’t able too as I was too upset.

I was under the impression that the big disability charities had all agreed to monitor this sort of thing.  So I called the Scope helpline.  It is very important to me that this gets included in the statistics about this sort of thing.To be fair to them, thanks to the power of Twitter, I’ve since had an apology (or “we’re sorry the service wasn’t what you expected”) but I really wasn’t very happy with the way the call was handled.  I felt like the person I spoke with was dismissive and her basic response was that a lot of people get shouted at in the street for various reasons like race or disability. It’s not right but “it happens”.  And there was nothing Scope could do.  The person I spoke to didn’t even ask if I was OK.

Someone on twitter has since passed me a link to a site about hate crime and it included Scope as an organisation you could go to for help with this sort of thing (and I’ve used their anonymous online tool to have the details recorded).  BendyGirl called to check on me and she said she thought the same about the big charities.

I don’t want to make a big fuss about this but I wanted to share it because it’s something that happens when you’re disabled.  So saying “it happens” is fair enough.  But it’s not good enough.  Because it shouldn’t happen.  No one would expect someone who is gay or Asian or in any other minority to put up with that sort of thing or deal with those sort of questions.  And I don’t know why I, as a disabled person, should have to.

I’m used to people not understanding disability but truly the level of hate and the scrounger stereotypes are getting much much worse.

I’ve had apology from Scope for the lack of help from their response helpline but I remain disappointed that someone working for an organisation whose whole purpose is to support people with CP was so unfeeling.  I considered them one of the big disability charities but obviously I got that wrong.

I’ll never get an apology from the man in the van, I don’t know who he is and frankly he’s just an idiot.  I doubt he’ll read this and if he does he probably won’t realise it’s him I’m talking about.  Chances are, however, that one day he’ll have the same experience I did.  Because lives change in an instant and people become disabled in a blink of an eye.  Don’t castigate those of us who wheel through life instead of walking or have other forms of disability.  Because chances are one day you’ll be one of us as well.

>The Broken of Britain

>Last weekend a new campaign was set up about the proposed cuts and specifically to allow disabled people to campaign about them.  Because we are one of the groups who will be affected most severely by these cuts.  And the government have already admitted they’ve not looked into it fully.

The campaign is The Broken of Britain.

This afternoon I had a long chat on the phone with Kaliya who set it up.  It was really fun to get to talk to her after knowing her online for so long.  Just a shame we had such a serious topic to talk about.  I’m going to be helping with the campaign by doing stuff like keeping an eye on the blog and answering e-mails.

I also wrote a post for Scope on Monday about this project.  Spreading the word is one of the most important things people can do.  Even if you don’t feel able to share your story or take part in other ways, please consider sharing the link.

Reading the stories is humbling and it can be very hard.  I thought I’d seen a lot of benefit problems as a CAB adviser and knew how they could affect people.  I was wrong.

I just posted Emma’s Story – my own story – to The Broken of Britain blog.  It feels a little raw and it wasn’t easy.  I’ve shared some very personal stuff before through my blogs but this feels like a whole different level of personal and not overly comfortable. I thought about it for a long time and did consider being anonymous as those stories are also accepted. But I knew that if I wrote what I wanted to write and I continued to promote the project plenty of people would read it and know it was me.  Plus, if ever there was a time when I feel the need to stand up for what I believe in, it’s now.

Please consider supporting this project.

>A Good Writing Day – With Links!

>Last week, Mike from Artist Inlet Press contacted me to ask if I would write something for that site.  His only request was that I should write about something I’m passionate about.

I’ve been trying to do lots of writing and make progress with it over the last few weeks so I jumped at the chance to write that piece.  It’s not a site I’d been to before but I’ve been reading some of it since then and it’s got some very well written, lovely essays on there.  I’m pleased to have been asked to contribute and know that more people are seeing my writing.  I’ve been working on that today and as I wrote about sailing, really enjoying it.

Sail Away is now posted over at Artist Inlet Press.  I would welcome your feedback on it.

In terms of other writing, I also posted Don’t Cut Us Out about a Scope campaign over on the Disability Voices blog yesterday.  If you live in the UK, please consider taking part in that campaign, it doesn’t take a few minutes to do so.

Scope sent me a tweet saying they love the Disability Voices blog and telling me they follow my blog.  Then they did a Follow Friday of “some great disability related bloggers” and included me in that list.  I was incredibly flattered and pleased by that.

Finally I’ve set up pages on the sidebar which have links to all my guest blogs and articles which are online and also to my book reviews.

>Blogging for Scope!

>On Tuesday I spent some time researching writing competitions and writing opportunities.  And, being cheeky I also asked Scope how they choose their bloggers.  The end result being that I’m now one of their bloggers (and I also have one other writing opportunity for another organisation).

You can see my blog on the scope page It comes complete with an old photo – my hair looks nothing like that now but I don’t have a more recent on that isn’t stupid.  (Rocky Horror photos I’m looking at you) and a bio.  It’s a bit strange writing about yourself in the 3rd person but it’s a very writerly thing to do.

My first post for Scope is called Disability: It’s Not All Negative.  Let me know what you think.

>Equality and Disability Rights

>I just received an e-mail from Scope about their equality campaign.

National disability organisation Scope is calling on the Government to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a matter of urgency.

The Convention is the first treaty in history to give the millions of disabled people across the globe comprehensive human rights and recognise that disabled and non-disabled people share a common humanity.

The Convention is the first human rights treaty of the 21st century and was the fastest negotiated convention in the UN’s history. Negotiations involved individual disabled people and their governments from all over the world, but at present the Convention is not enforceable.

20 countries need to ratify the Convention before it becomes legally binding. So far only five have done so. The UK is not among them.

The UK should demonstrate its full and lasting commitment to disabled people’s human rights by being one of the first 20 countries to ratify the Convention and sign the optional protocol.

If you are British or are resident in Britain, you can sign Scope’s petition calling for the convention to be ratified here

And in other news, Katie Thorpe will NOT be having a hysterectomy. That was in Scope’s e-mail too.

I find a lot of that article disturbing and think it could have been a lot better written. Of particular disgust/concern to me is the the headline “Teenager refused hysterectomy”. It’s not exactly a bad thing that the hospital said no, is it?!?! They have said that when Katie does get her periods they will consider doing a partial hysterectomy IF a clinical case for doing so can be proved. Her mother claims in the article that they have proved a need for Katie to have the “necessary evil” removed. Obviously the NHS Trust don’t agree.

In other words, the excuse “She’s got CP” ain’t enough.

I am pleased by this development but saddened that it’s not made more of a splash in the news – it’s HUGE. I also want to note that I think this equality issue becomes more and more of a feminist issue too as the stories come out. We’ve still heard nothing about boys having their growth halted prematurely or puberty prevented due to disability – but I’m sure we will someday and that they’ll be more of an outcry than there has been for Katie and for Ashley. Cos they aren’t just disabled, they are girls too.