I’ve been hobbling around now for 3 weeks with a broken ankle and torn ligament. It’s fair to say it’s already losing its appeal so it anyone wants to take me out for lunch or on day trips... feel free.
I decided as I had to slow down to keep a diary of what it felt like to have restricted mobility and to think about it from the perspective of people who live with a disability day in day out. I hope you use my thoughts to reflect on your perceptions and what changes you need to make to support others. These are only my personal reflections and I recognise there are lots of different views but my main point is that as a society we don’t think carefully enough about people’s needs and expect everyone to fit in the same round hole. We still have a long way to go in terms of infrastructure and attitudes for a start.
So what’s it like...
1. You’re slow compared to the fast paced life around you.
2. You’re invisible to people walking past you wrapped up in their phones or lives. They don’t respect your physical space and brush past you without realising your balance and confidence has gone.
3. You lose your confidence - it’s tiring and physically draining. You feel frail and battered.
4. You have to plan and anticipate things - how are you going to get up in time to get off the train and then how the hell are you going to get off the train!
5. Disabled toilets are crap and an afterthought, a bit like baby changing. In one restaurant I had to go down in the service lift and the staff kept their coats and lockers in there.
6. Who knew there were so many stairs!!!
7. How about when you get on train to London and they say there are no disabled toilets on the train. Really?
8. Does your team know how to help someone with mobility issues when there is a fire alarm?
9. You need to juggle everything unless you are super organised... coffee cup, coat, bag, crutches, leg brace...
It’s not all bad....
It hasn’t all been bad, people have been very kind. Letting me go to the front of the taxi queue in the rain or helping me down or up stairs. I went to a concert at Brixton Academy (my dad wouldn’t let me go and be in the Wham! video when I was 14 but I showed him 34 years later..) and one of the ushers took me upstairs with my friends to find me a seat. When I asked if it was the royal box, she said the Queen didn’t need one in Brixton as she liked to mingle... and you know that’s how everyone should be treated so they are able to feel equal.