In recent years I’ve read up a lot more on the history of the disability rights movement. I’ve also read a lot about other civil rights groups. There’s many similarities. You need your demonstrations (with a touch of civil disobedience), you need your community leaders, and you need dialogue with the decision makers.
Before the Disability Discrimination Act was introduced in 1995, a group of disabled people decided to fight for their rights. Via street protests, community events, and lobbying. This amateur band of brothers and sisters achieved the impossible.
Please take note. Without this fight and victory there’d be no social care, wheelchair funding, adapted cars and so on. We owe them a lot for the opportunities we have today.
Despite all of the books, theories, and ideas; I’ve found it hard to apply them to our new world. Currently disabled people have more rights and resources than before the protective legislation was introduced. We have more digital tools at our disposal. And yet we’re seeing our rights and resources eroding away year by year.
Baroness Jane Campbell
In all of the books I read, one name kept popping up. Baroness Jane Campbell.
Over the past couple of years mine and Janes paths have crossed. I was invited to a couple of group meetings at the House of Lords. Then Jane invited Kasia and I to her beautiful house last October. We had some great phone calls. Amazingly this weekend we hosted Jane and her husband Roger for afternoon tea.
Part of the reason for writing this post was to get my bubbling inspiration and energy out in a coherent way. More so, it’s to pass on some of the things I took away from our catch up. To inspire you too!
Being very ambitious and hard working I often forget to acknowledge past achievements. I’m always looking for the next thing to chase down. I relish a challenge. But in speaking with Jane yesterday I was reminded of the great successes I have made personally and professionally.
So make sure you do the same in your life. It’s very important.
How Can We Create Change?
Beyond the general chit chat, delicious cakes, warm tea, and bright sunshine in our garden; I had some things I’d hoped Jane could help with. The key theme was on how to unite disabled people. How can we take our community, and any common issues, to people who can implement positive change. Decision makers if you like.
I wasn’t disappointed!
Exercise Your Right to Vote
On a personal level I decided a few things after this inspiring conversation. One is to campaign for people to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming general election.
People understandably feel disempowered. However when you add up all of these people, their vote could make a difference to the outcome. So please vote. Regardless of the helplessness you may be feeling. It’s still important to use this right.
Visit (or write to) Your MP
Whoever wins the election, they are elected to serve the people. Now, I have a confession to make to you. I’ve never met with my local MP. So I will go and meet them after the election. Simply to share my personal story about independent living and inclusion, and ask for information on their parties policy.
Once we venture offline, meet people in person, and create dialogue; change is more likely to happen. If you really can’t go visit your MP, then write a personal letter with the same content and aims.
I’ll let you know how my experience goes.
Hold Community Events In Person
I love digital projects! To write these words from my phone (I can’t type on my laptop and am working up to using Dragon Dictate). To publish them. To share them on social media. Thousands of people will read, comment and share. It’s very awesome.
It’s also become common to whinge on social media with people that agree with us. Unfortunately less people make the effort to meet in person, listen to each other over a drink, and plan some solutions. Together. We have a more isolated echo chamber.
Disability Horizons and Disability United will be arranging and running events to address this. With interesting speakers, community bonding, and cohesive solutions. Do watch out for further news on our plans. And feel free to do the same in your area. It’s not difficult or exclusive.
Again we’ll report back on how this goes.
Change Starts Today
Regarding these cohesive solutions. Whether online and/or offline. We’re going to support people to send letters to MPs. We’re going to support people to visit decision makers. We’re going to arrange and support other organisations running demonstrations.
Ladies and gentlemen. It’s time to stop the erosion of disability rights. Indeed it’s time to stop the erosion of all human rights. Starting today. Right now. Let’s use these digital tools. Let’s also meet in person. Let’s start talking to the decision makers. Let’s believe in ourselves and in the good of all people.
It’s really the only way change can happen!
See you very soon, and hopefully in person
PS. Thank you to Jane for driving to Cambridgeshire and sharing her wisdom. I’m forever grateful for yesterday. I’m excited to put all this motivation into action.