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Why spikes aren’t the answer

By | Accessibility, Business, Disability, Emily Yates, Lifestyle, News, Workplace

If you’ve followed us for a while, you will know that, as a charity, we pride ourselves on facilitating communication and connection between disabled people and their non-disabled peers, through our disability awareness training, talks at conferences and helpful resource creation. As disabled people ourselves, we are fully aware that those who have little to no experience around areas of access and inclusion, or any disabled relatives or friends, don’t always get it right (and, sometimes, get it very, very wrong).  We’ve been shamed for using accessible bathrooms because we don’t ‘look’ physically disabled, patronised by people who have spoken to our parents or partners as they just assume that we are unable to contribute to a conversation ourselves, and we’ve even had to leave dates with very hot men on them because, quite frankly, regardless of how beautiful they were, they weren’t up to scratch when it came to empathy and awareness.

But, you know what? These more negative events are genuinely a drop in the ocean compared to the warmth and welcoming attitude of many we experience on a daily basis.  It’s not unusual for members of the public to be helpful and supportive when needed.  Just last week, a stranger got off the tube and waited for the next one to ensure that one of our colleagues was able to get herself and her bags onto the platform with ease.  Those we have trained have gone out of their way to contact us and let us know what a positive difference our training has made to how they are performing in their roles and, as well as hot but uneducated and absolutely-not-right dates, we’ve found partners who absolutely ‘get it’ and put those who don’t to shame. 

As far as we’re concerned, it’s human nature to mess up and make mistakes sometimes, but good intentions are everything when considering what you say and do around others.  That’s why we were saddened to read Spikes – and other ways disabled people combat unwanted touching.on the BBC website recently. It documents the experiences of several disabled people who have been touched without their consent by non-disabled members of the public, from bus drivers to fellow commuters, and gone to some pretty extreme lengths to discourage it, including placing spikes on the handles of their wheelchairs which, although not capable of puncturing the skin, are pretty clear in the vibe that they give off.

There’s been times when we’ve also wanted to use the #JustAskDontGrab hashtag: when taxi drivers have hauled us up dangerously steep ramps without our permission, for example.  We really do understand the frustration and fear that unwanted, and unnecessary, attention can cause. But we also regularly hear the stories of disabled people who are craving understanding and interaction, and of non-disabled people who want to learn and be educated.

Where’s the middle line, or the happy medium? Isn’t it a shame that a wheelchair user needs spikes to feel safe but, at the same time, is shutting off the opportunity to educate people whose behaviour she desperately wants to change? 

People don’t learn and alter their ways if they are never told that what they are doing, however well intentioned, could be done better. To spread kindness and understanding, shouldn’t we be displaying it ourselves? 

Both literally and metaphorically, maybe we should soften our spikes a little too.

My Pregnancy and labour – Joy Addo

By | Disability, Lifestyle, My story

I found I was pregnant at work one afternoon and to say I was shocked would be an understatement. I remember it like it was yesterday, the fear and shock that I felt was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I asked my  friend Lauren to take a walk to the pharmacy with me that day, I told her my period was late and just wanted to rule out pregnancy, so being the friend she is she said sure of course. When we got back to the office I remember telling her to go and continue working and I did the test on my own I’m the toilet. 

When I looked at the test I saw 2 lines, so I panicked and honestly thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. In fact I genuinely hoped that they were. I honestly cleaned my glasses a few times a kept looking back at the test but it wasn’t changing. I called Lauren and asked her come have a look as her vision is better than mine. She looked at the test and started nervous laughing, she confirmed it was 2 lines and I was like “Lauren this is not funny” 

When my manager got back from I went into her office and broke down in tears. I showed her the test and she let me go home. 

It was about week later when I starting feeling really sick and of course I assumed it was morning sickness, but for some reason I felt absolutely awful. I had seen programmes on pregnant woman before but I never saw or heard of anyone feeling as bad as I did with morning sickness. 

I finally got diagnosed with Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) which is extreme vomiting and sickness during pregnancy. I felt so weak while I was pregnant and I had to be admitted to hospital about 4-5 times because I was dehydrated.

To be honest I did not enjoy pregnancy at all I had never felt so weak on all my life. 

Having my 20 week scan and finding out I was expecting a girl really made a difference to me. I finally was able to get excited and imagine a mini me! (Which she definitely is) 

My labour was very quick, I wasn’t sure if I was having contractions at first and the hospital said to stay at home for as long as possible, so did. 

As they started to progress I was on my bedroom floor grunting and panting for my life. Not to mention I was actually doing several squats, which my body was not made to do at all! 

My mum called a cab and we made our way to the hospital. However as we turned into  the road of  the hospital my waters broke in the back of the mini cab. 

When my mum got out and went into reception to get help, the cab driver came to open the door for me and as I stood up I could feel my baby was literally coming so I laid back in cab and pushed. By the time my mum came back out she saw her grand daughter being held up by my knickers and the cab driver was lost for words. 

Everyone around me was panicking but I had heard my baby make a little cry and her hand grabbed my finger so I knew she was fine. 

They rushed us into to labour ward and apologised for making me stay at home for so long. But everything was fine, my daughter was born I didn’t need any form of after care not even a stitch so I was happy and we went home the very next day. 

About 2 weeks after Janelle was born I had a knock on the door from Tarick the cab driver. He came to her and asked me if she wanted to buy his car when she’s older as it was her birth place! 

 

A new born baby in a hospital crib

Janelle, just after being born

Love Lounge Top Tips – Feeling Broody?

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Lifestyle, The Love Lounge

For many people, becoming a parent and having children someday is absolute #lifegoals, but it would be difficult for anyone to dispute that it is a BIG decision, not least for those of us who are disabled.  If you’re feeling broody, that’s not to say that it’s not possible to be a brilliant disabled mum or dad, but there might possibly be a few extra things to consider on your journey to becoming one.  If you see kids in your future, but don’t quite know where to start, this one is for you.

Tip 1: Have the conversation

First things first, if you are currently with a partner, do they feel the same way about having children? As scary as it may seem, having the conversation and knowing that you are both on the same wavelength, or have similar timelines in mind when it comes to parenting, can be really helpful and productive for both of you.  And it’s totally fine if you’re not ready, or the person you’re with isn’t, as long as you are both honest with each other and never make promises that you don’t have an intention of keeping.

Tip 2: Plan as well as you can

Let’s face it, parenting takes a lot of planning, and this is most definitely the case for us disabled people.  If you are a wheelchair user, you might want to think about how you are going to get your baby, a pram and your chair in the car, if your energy levels can get considerably low, it might be worth considering whether or not you will express milk and bottle feed your baby at night time, so your partner and you can share feeding responsibilities.  Find certain positions difficult and painful? You might want to make sure this information goes into your birth plan.  These are just a few examples, and there are plenty of things to think about, but just remember, whatever works for you is the best and correct decision, regardless of what anyone else around you is doing or suggesting.  There is never a perfect time to have a baby, but it is possible to plan and make it the best time for you.

Tip 3:  Hack your way through parenting life

When the baby does arrive, enjoy parenthood! It might be worth becoming a bit of a parenting engineer, too, and hacking your way through the first few months.  Perhaps picking your son or daughter out of their cot becomes tiring and tough, and you might find a way that’s much easier on your body by creating a side door on the cot, for example.  Maybe body slings will work much better for you than a bulky pram, or perhaps you’ll come up with an innovative way to be alerted to your baby’s cries at night if you are hard of hearing.  Whatever ends up working for you and your child, please share the information with the communities around you, on or offline.  There is sadly still a taboo and fear around disabled parenting, with many people being desperate to be a mum or dad, but worrying quite how they will manage or whether they will be good enough.  Knowledge is power, as they say, and let’s remember that sharing a hacking success might empower someone else to take the beautiful leap to becoming a disabled parent.

 

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