Social justice for disabled people. I imagine all my blog post readers want this, right? Well, getting it will not be easy – but nothing worth fighting for in life is easy. Plus, as mentioned in my previous post, I am an ambitious person. I have ideas about how disabled people can build better lives, and the future steps I need to take to help make them happen.
Disabled people are searching for significant lifestyle changes. To gain these, there are important topics to search for and then sustain as time continues.
Peterloo was a Start
The first thing we’re looking to find and maintain is liberty. We used to have more of this, but disabled people have seen power subtracted from their lives – despite the Equality Act 2010 arriving in 2011. A lot of disabled people will blame the UK Conservative Party for our losses. It’s understandable, too; they’ve not helped disabled people maintain healthy lives. Plus, Boris Johnson’s control of COVID-19 led to a much larger than average number of deaths during its initial outbreak in the UK. Two-thirds of those who died during the first lockdown were disabled people. Plus, people continue to shield for health-related reasons
Yet, unlike in most other countries, our PM has fooled around, and says COVID-19 restrictions are no longer necessary. Vladimir Putin’s actions obviously distracted the public after his decision to invade Ukraine. But the pandemic is again more active, and it’s led to more hospitalisations and deaths. It’s difficult to determine the genuine statistics online, but I know the amount of people infected and hospitalised by the pandemic has at least doubled from 26 February, with over 20,000 now severely affected and in hospital. This pandemic is still not over, people.
COVID-19 is becoming better controlled by new medicines and procedures in our country, and eventually things should reach what some people might call ‘normalities’. But what non-disabled people might call normal aren’t good enough for all of us. Ignoring and neglecting disabled people takes place too often. We don’t have the freedom we deserve, and we must gain liberty.
After we Move, we’ll choose to Speak too
So, after I help us attain liberty, I see more positive possibilities arriving as well. We can continue working together and start speaking with more confidence. We already have our skilled speakers, but there aren’t too many of them. But people will see new chances to exploit hidden skills, and also be inspired to speak much louder too. I hope to play a role in inspiring them myself, but am going to need help along the way.
If we group-up, speak up, and tell people exactly what we want in life, political power can arise. Right now, non-disabled people insist on helping us out, and if they didn’t we’d be in a tricky situation right now. Despite what many non-disabled people might believe, we can gain strength, and disabilities shall not waver our strengths when uniting and exploiting truly ourselves. Politicians don’t have dynamic abs, but they do have power – often too much of it, as well. Fellow disabled people will doubt our abilities too, so be patient. It won’t be easy, but it can certainly be done.
I guess after telling you that, I should tell you about my upcoming project ideas. We can’t gain liberty and power overnight. However, I have now joined the GMCDP’s executive council, and believe it’s time to start sharing my career plans more openly with the public.
The subject of public health predominantly interests me at the moment. There aren’t many books written about the subject, but after reading ‘Public Health: A Very Short Introduction’, I’m finally starting to see light at the end of my tunnel. I’ve struggled to find work that suits me. But public health – which people generally find difficult to describe – seems interesting to me. However, as time continues, it’s only seeming more clear I should study a one-year Master’s degree in the subject at the University of Salford.
As September draws closer, the odds of me finding work via the Job Centre only continues to further fade. I’ll keep learning about public health and project management, practicing skills that will be most useful if I pass my Master’s and begin work. After graduation, I see myself working for an employer as a public health practitioner. After that, as mentioned, I’m ambitious. I see myself continuing my journey, and moving into the realms of self-employment. Another course I completed recently made me believe that in the future I could be labelled as a social innovator too.
What is Social Innovation?
Although following the career choice of going self-employed, nobody I know had really spoken about how thrilling it is. So, putting that aside, I’ll give you a quick overview of what I’ve learnt about social innovation.
I recently studied a free six-week course authorised by the University of Cape Town. I recommend doing the same if you’re interested in managing any particular issues in society. Studying ‘Becoming a Changemaker: an Introduction to Social Innovation’, could well be useful for you.
The course provides both videos and text that explain how social innovation can be such a useful tool. The method only appears to be gaining more popularity as time continues. Founder Marlon Parker spoke openly about the actions he made to help manage gangsterism in Cape Town, South Africa. Although it simply started as a side-project, RLabs has since become a major worldwide business. It primarily focused on finding and helping people both addicted to and selling drugs locally. After doing this, they gained health, built new skills, and used their own abilities when employed by the organisation itself.
Generally speaking, social innovation involves letting people who have managed tough times within their lives to innovatively help fix the issues that have taken place in society. Disabled people’s organisations use social innovation, as they’re built up with disabled people alone. I know that the main issues disabled people need to erase are best managed by DPO’s disabled people. However, I’m also thinking that starting a new side-project might be a good next step to take as well.
RLabs has impacted many people – 20 million people, according to its website. RLabs trained others and has had 200 thousand graduates, as well as 90 thousand jobs accessed and created. It also now supports 3,500 businesses around the world.
So, what Projects do I want to Start?
Well, when it comes down to the projects, I want to build smaller ones that expand as time continues. That’s a part of what happens when people socially innovate.
Although I’ve not provided official proposals for these projects to the GMCDP yet, I’ll give you an overview of them now. I’ve spoken via Zoom with Gemma, our DPO’s project worker. She agreed the two smaller projects I have in mind are not crazy suggestions. These included what I simply labelled as ‘Simply Info for Society’ and ‘Disability Arts Activism Group’.
Simple Info for Society
I mentioned the ‘Simple Info for Society’ idea during my last blog post. As mentioned, in February I made some new friends at Ramp Church Manchester. Since then, more friendships have gradually been built, and new people have been met. Social playmaker Chris told me he and the church would be willing to learn more about disability if given the information.
It sounds like a very simple task, so the idea of building a simple website appeared in my mind. If it includes basic information about what disabled people need in life and how they should be respectfully treated, then it could perhaps work well.
When mentioned to Gemma, she told me she has somewhat been offering information to various others – but says when people learn about disability rights, they want to gain more detail that she doesn’t have time to provide.
But, if we clarified that there are limitations on the information we can provide, wouldn’t that solve this problem? I’m unsure, and need to clarify a few things with Gemma. Nevertheless, I’ll make that proposal, and see what response I receive.
Disability Arts Activism Group
Disability arts activism – or, ‘disability artivism’, as it might be now known – is the use of disability arts to make people aware of the many issues disabled people deal with in society. We want to spread word of our problems, because people aren’t aware of how much discrimination we actually deal with. In the UK, about four million disabled people currently live in poverty.
I’ve always been extremely keen for people to use arts to speak about how our issues need to be addressed. It doesn’t matter whether it’s visual, musical, theatrical or literary – any kind of art that sends a message to others about our tricky lives is for the greater good.
We Shall Not Be Removed
In 2020, WeShallNotBeRemoved [#WSNBR] arrived, and was labelled as the UK’s Disability Arts Alliance. The group’s principal aim was to raise a voice for creative disabled people during the pandemic. We fought for our inclusive recovery when others could possibly once again neglect disabled people. The group gathered over 700 supporters, and three interviews I produced with key disabled artists were published on the #WSNBR website.
Our team gained the attention of people in society with disability arts activism. From what I remember, this was most apparent during our second campaign of the four that took place. It took up the efforts of our supporters across the UK, but we celebrated the depth and diversity of inclusive & disability arts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, using the hashtags #WeShallNotBeRemoved and #EndAbleism. We proved to non-disabled people that we have our talents, too.
Two days later, The Guardian released an article about #WSNBR. In 2020, the brief article also mentioned some comments about how we wish to address issues with disability arts in the future. But it’s now 2022. My idea involves getting a new disability arts activism group based in Manchester up and running. I want disabled people to receive more benefits than ever before via ‘artivism’. Manchester is a well-known home of arts and culture, so it makes sense to make our city the centre-point for a new organisation like this one.
Great Arts are Appearing
Plus, I should also mention a great night I had at Contact on Friday 8 April – Young Creatives constructed DIS:Play. Attendees received a guided tour through various rooms through the arts theatre in Manchester. It involved disability arts activism from various disabled individuals, many of whom have issues with autism. As minor as it was, it was a very positive and inspiring event.
The artists involved must have gathered so much courage to both perform live and record what was on show. They didn’t fail to speak up and express themselves so clearly to every person who watched them live, either.
Plus, on Monday, another arts event appeared at Contact. This time it involved Ellie Ora Page and Saorise Felix Addams. Our Homes was also exhibited in collaboration with Drawn Poorly Zine and Short Supply. The lead artists creatively explored the theme of home – its joy, its grief, and everything in between.
Rose Sergent recently became one person to remember at Contact. After playing a key role in producing both of the arts events mentioned via Contact, she’s been made the theatre’s Health and Science Producer. I interviewed Rose in June last year, as she’s become the producer at Drawn Poorly Zine for quite a while now.
Positive Pathways and Paraorchestra
I also told people at the GMCDP about the Positive Pathways event I attended. As an orgnisation who young people in Manchester interact more with the music industry, Brighter Sound invited me to the conference. After applying for a job role, I didn’t get the job, but they liked my persona and invited me along. The conference wasn’t there to support disabled people alone. However, it involved on-stage spoken words by two disabled artists. These were 21 year old singer/songwriter Louis Cross, and well as successful musician and speaker Sarah Fisher. Both of these people are involved with disability arts activism, and have music available to listen to online via Spotify.
I also want to mention the Paraorchestra’s recent success. Combining with Hannah Peel with their new album The Unfolding, they topped the UK’s Classical Music chart. I’m not much of a classical music listener, but enjoyed the singles they released on Spotify.
As an Executive, I’m Learning More Every Day
Right now, I’m still learning while doing. I’ve gained more interest in Public Health whilst working with the GMCDP’s Executive Council, and am learning with more detail about the main issues disabled people currently deal with in society.
I represented the GMCDP at the The Focus Group Zoom meeting with The Health Creation Alliance. We discussed how NHS community areas should be used in the future. It’s no surprise that most of the discussion related to how disabled people needed NHS buildings to be safer and more accessible.
I do believe that is the primary concern for people to control. However, I have more knowledge about disability arts. Therefore, I spoke about what we should use the rooms for within the building. I spoke to the other Zoom attendees about introducing young disabled people, and people with learning disabilities to the arts. When socially ignored, young disabled people often struggle to find a fair education.
They could receive free lessons to get them started, and told how they can join various groups to enhance any skills they wish to develop. Disabled artists can be incredibly talented too, and need to know this as soon as possible. With the use of social innovation, we might be able to make this happen sooner and bring about more improvements, too.
Our monthly executive meeting took place on Tuesday 5 April, and it was good to catch up with a fair share of fellow executives. Unfortunately, not everybody could make it, but I look forward to meeting and greeting other executives online and in-person elsewhere soon, too.
Next this month, I’ll be attending an online Zoom meeting where we’ll be discussing the UK’s social care charging. The taxes disabled people have to pay if they need personal assistance need to be scrapped.The high costs of it lead to tens of thousands of disabled people living in a state of social isolation and poverty. The meeting has been set up by Inclusion London. Along with plenty of other material, they provided this video to tell others more about this major problem.
Social care charges don’t affect me, so I’ll try and read up all the more about them. It’s an important matter to manage though. So, please – wish me, the GMCDP and other organisations the best of luck during the month ahead.