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My Opinions as a Disability Rights Activist

I believe that everybody on our planet should have their own rights respected.  They should live the life that they choose to and this means that I have strong opinions about the importance of self-care, both physically and mentally.  This is something I believe that everybody should engage with in their lifetime.  However, with the rat race of today's high paced society, somebody’s achievements may be viewed as not always good enough. 


There is a big focus on our need to survive, therefore Capitalism and money can often bring in greed, psychological stress and worry.  In my opinion, this is even more poignant for disabled people. As I have explained in other sections of this website, personally I am mentally independent but physically dependent on another person for almost everything. Therefore, myself and my family have experienced two types of negativity.  One, people use the medical model and presume that I am not able to do anything at all, for example, they ask my PA if I can eat at which point I respond to say ‘yes’ and tell them what I would like to eat.  Opposite to this, we have the other situation, where general public, due to lack of education, assume that because I am mentally independent and have gained a Masters degree that I am physically independent.  This could not be further from the truth. I will never live independently, without care, in fact I will need it for the rest of my life. This is why I am a member of the re-shaping our Futures Alliance, which is a large organisation made up of several disabled persons organisations that are campaigning for a National Independent Living Service (formally closed by the Government in June 2015) to be put back into place enabling disabled people to live their life to the fullest, have the care support they need and live independently in  their own homes. 


As I have mentioned above, I believe in Equality of Opportunity for everybody.  I think the social model should always be used and society should be adapted around the needs of the disabled person and not the other way around.  I want to be an advocate for the social model, disabled people, carers, Personal Assistants and particularly unpaid carers, family and friends as well as, young carers who are supported by organisations such as Carers UK and the Carers Trust. 

The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain.
By Cerrie Burnell
Cerrie Burnell was the first actress/presenter to appear on Cbeebies story time with one arm. The BBC received dozens of complaints she is an actor, mother, and writer. These complaints expressed the fact that she had one arm, this was frightening their children. It was this catalyst that years later she has produced a documentary, currently available on BBC iPlayer. This documentary informs us that some of today’s modern thinking comes from the 1900’s, where disabled people were deliberately locked away in workhouses and in institutions. This was worsened by Hitler and his Nazi movement. Disabled people were viewed as feeble minded. It was presumed that if a disabled person was physically disabled then they were also mentally and emotionally disabled. In the history books there are a lot of case studies regarding children who had hydrocephalus and were blind for instance. There were case studies within history of how their disability would wreck and ruin the whole of their life. Physical features were put first instead of thoughts, feelings, emotions, or anything the disabled child may have wanted. A blind girl wished to work in the laundry, but they did not permit her to do so because of her disability.
Unfortunately, because of the medical model, disabled people were seen as something that needed to be corrected in the 1940’s and often put into plaster beds to straighten their legs. If they complained about this, they would be told to shut up and have water thrown on them. There was a social reformer called Mary Dendy that advocated for “mentally handicapped” residential homes, she really meant institutions and segregation.
In 1940 Dr Gutterman was determined to change society and what we now know as rehabilitation for disabled people. That same year he was in charge of the Spinal Injuries Unit at Stoke Manderville. His inspirational work led to our first Paralympics in 1948, where disabled people competed as equals winning Gold, Silver and Bronze. They had a lot of fun too and this aided their recovery immensely. Disabled people have Dr Guttermann to thank for helping to start the Paralympic movement and make it as strong as today where disabled people are treated equally to their non-disabled peers and are viewed as absolute superheroes for taking part in this joyous event.
Despite coming from Nazi Germany, Dr Guttermann, although he may not have realised at the time, started rehabilitation services for disabled people and his approach reminds me of who I see at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Professor Steve Sturman. He showed that with care and support and making their own decisions disabled people could easily be rehabilitated into their own homes and communities. Off the back of the Paralympics, this gave disabled people, the strength courage and fight to start the Disability Rights Movement for equal and civil rights that many of us younger disabled people may take for granted and always assume that the freedom of potential equality has always been there. After years of campaigning, in 1995 the Government could not ignore disabled people any longer and the Disability Discrimination Act became law. We have to look at why this happened though. It came into force, because disabled people and their supporters such as Baroness Jane Campbell and Alia Hassan. In the 1980’s they took to the streets, campaigning for equal rights to transport as they rightly believed, they should have access to it like any other member of the public. They handcuffed themselves to the buses and refused to move until they were able to access the buses like anybody else. Many disabled activists that day, got arrested by the Police for standing their ground and wanting to access public transport like anybody else. During the same decade, TV stations introduced Telefons with only able bodied presenters, raising money for disabled people. This outraged the activists mentioned above as they did not want pity or charity but equal rights like anybody else who is able bodied. As Baroness Campbell says “nothing about us, without us”.
Due to the disability rights movement, social care, lived experience and independent living in their own homes was also slowly beginning to reform and disabled people were allowed to start living in their own homes with social care that they wanted, living the life that they chose to.
It also featured a girl called Lucy who was one of the first disabled people to attend mainstream school. Her mum is also disabled and they both have brittle bone disease, osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). Lucy’s mum also has the same condition and when Lucy was born all her mum wanted for her was equal rights and an equal lifestyle, although she knew this wasn’t going to happen without a fight. With the help of disabled persons organisations, Lucy and her mum, took the fight for her to go and stay in mainstream school to the Governments doorstep. I had similar experiences. In 1995, when I was 5, the Disability Discrimination Act had just come into place and throughout my whole mainstream schooling, despite proving, time and time again that I was intellectually capable my mum and dad faced a fierce fight to keep me there and I was often compared to other disabled people that were nothing like me, just so that support could be reduced. When I was old enough, I made it my personal mission to prove to my mainstream school and Local A-uthority that I was more than capable of attending mainstream education. I was certainly one of the first within a small group of disabled children who went to mainstream school. With the right support assistant, I could easily access and enjoy school and make many friends. People who I am still friends with today, don’t see me as disabled.
In conclusion, this documentary is a very necessary watch. I feel particularly for able bodied people who have no experience of living with disability and I feel they would be shocked and upset to see how disabled people were treated and segregated in the 1900’s as it is not their daily life or something, they have personal experience of. Young disabled people who are in mainstream school and going into their teenage years and being told they are not able to achieve and will never get to where they want to be, this programme demonstrates that because of Disability Activists and their supporters, anything you want to achieve is possible. So don’t let anybody tell you “no” because there is always a way around it. I feel it is also important for, unpaid carers of disabled people, family members who don’t live with the disabled person as well as Personal Assistants who intend to make their living out of supporting disabled people and improving their lifestyles. So anyone reading this, don’t let me down and watch the documentary! Sometimes being shocked can call you to social change and action. A fantastic well done to Cerrie Burnell and everybody else that appeared in the documentary, revealing life for what it really is for people and their loved ones with disabilities.

Hi everybody! I'm campaigning with my fellow disability rights campaigners and I am part of the movement which is Social Care Futures. Here are the key enquiry outcome suggestions:


  • Promote a new story of change to inspire the wider public to support the future we seek
  • Underpin this story with examples of the approaches that exemplify this future and working with others to grow and to spread them
  • Challenge and change the present through action at all levels to close the gap between the positive ambition of the Care Act 2014 and reality on the ground
  • Develop the practical solutions to move us towards our vision, navigated by people whose experience and insight comes from drawing on care and support to live their lives
  • Build a social movement for change


We are all working hard to make these a reality in adult social care.


I am also a member of IMPACT, which is improving adult care together. This is the new research centre. The professional in charge is Jon Glasby, please see below the link: