Why do I champion Disability Awareness, despite major health issues?

If you have met or seen me previously, you will see that I walk with two sticks; they do not define me and I don’t want them to.

Why do I champion Disability Awareness? Despite major health issues, I always look well. It must be in my genes.

“There’s definitely something to be said for first impressions. Research suggests it can take just 20 seconds to make an impression”.

Most see me as someone looking well, using sticks. There is always great assumption that I can manage steps, flights of stairs, walking some distance. I can do none of these.

What happened in 18 rounds of surgery? Removal of womb, cervix and ovaries, removal of gall bladder, removal of bowel, part of stomach, rectum, removal of bladder – sepsis twice and MRSA twice caused havoc into my muscle tissue and neurological and spinal issues add to the list with bulging discs and chronic bouts of pain that even morphine doesn’t touch. You can’t see this of course, but it is what I live with, and it is what impacts my mobility and needs.

So how can I and others in my position get through this without being seen as needy, a nuisance, someone who finds the business sector difficult to manage to be taken seriously as an MBE Founder and CEO of a 14 year standing successful charity? when I need to bring attention to my disability.

“I discovered that the hardest thing to overcome isn’t a physical disability but the mental condition it induces. The world has a way of taking a man pretty much at his own rating. If he permits his loss to make him embarrassed and apologetic, he will draw embarrassment from others. But if he gains his own respect, the respect of those around him comes easily.” – Alexander de Seversky

There are easy steps to ensure Disability Awareness because believe me, not to do so can be terribly demoralising. The world isn’t flat, it’s not a soap box speech, but event organisers only need to look at a few factors.

• When booking a venue look at parking, can you define a close to entrance space.

• Is the venue accessible are there steps in or if a flat entrance, are there steps to other parts of the venue, toilets and refreshments?

• Are there seats – many network events are all standing, and non disabled people who are tired, pregnant etc may appreciate seating.

• Is there a disabled toilet & with a full length or dual height mirror?
On the rare occasion there is a mirror, this is usually wheelchair height and being tall, I cannot access it.
Can you imagine not being able to check your hair or lipstick when you wash your hands.

“The first step toward change is awareness.

The second step is acceptance.”
Nathaniel Branden










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