Happy Anniversary to me! It’s one year since I started this blog out of a very distressing situation at The Last Leg which slammed me and all my disabled comrades in the face with the raw truth of just how ableist our society and ‘reputable’ establishments such as ITV Studios still are.
- One year since I was turned away from The Last Leg at the ITV Studios because they gave away my reserved disabled seats to able bodied people. Despite weeks of my organisation and rescheduling hospital appointments, chemotherapy and biological treatments to make the show. Not only this but I was treated appallingly by the door staff who were offensive, dismissive and derogatory which riled the queue to turn on me, sneering and muttering ‘queue jumper’ at me. ITV Studios blatantly contravened the Equality Act 2010 and Disablity Discrimination Act which identifies disabled people as a ‘protected characteristic’ there was no access policy in place and I was victimised for being disabled. I was turned away from the show in tears.
- One year since I wrote On My Last Legs to see The Last Leg
- One year since Adam Hills tweeted how sorry he was and Alex Brooker told me in person he was ‘sorry I encountered all this shit’.
- One year since ITV Studios responded to my complaint by not addressing the disability discrimination that had taken place but instead blamed my seats being given away on ‘inclement weather’??!! Which didn’t exist of course.
- One year since I was invited back to the show where The Last Leg executive producer, Ben Wicks told me that this abuse had never happened before and decided that the fact I eventually got to see the show weeks later, should override any disability inequality that took place.
- One year since I found out Ben was telling porkies and that this treatment of disabled people had happened many times before at the ITV Studios.
- One year since Sarah Croker, line manager at Open Mike Productions told me fair access to disabled people would show inequality to able bodied people. Yes really.
- One year since, after an article about these events, amongst an influx of supportive messages, there was a random comment on the blog, praising the running staff at the show and saying disabled people would not be happy if a ‘red carpet was rolled out’ for us! It was pretty transparent to everyone who wrote that!! 😂
- One year since my blogs went viral and members of the public responded by tweeting they would not be watching The Last Leg show again. Neither have I since. Nor anyone I know.
- One year since I was overwhelmed by the public response of support to my articles.
- I have since grown a wonderful network of friends in the disability, human rights and writing community and won some awards including the Blogger Recognition Award, Sunshine Blogger Award and The Versatile Blogger Award. I have been cited as a Patient Advocate on Twitter by Marie Ennis O’Connor at Mayo Clinic and Stanford Medical X. My Brexit article was also published by Horizon 2020, the EU Programme for Research and Innovation in Science and Technology.
The initial ITV Studios/ The Last Leg experience just propelled me further to always fight for my human rights and the rights of others, whether ITV Studios and certain show producers think I shouldn’t! These may see such articles as ‘negative’ and prefer disabled people to just smile and accept a second class life with a pat on the head but actually what could be more positive than standing up for equal rights? To bury our heads in the sand would surely be ‘negative’?
Ableism is rife in our society now more than ever, thanks to our media and government. Hate rhetoric and demonising legislation has seen a rise in hate crime and disabled people are seriously suffering – and that’s just the ones who are still alive. According to Calum’s List a scandalous figure of anything between 4000 and 81,140 disabled people have died as a result of the WCA (Work Capability Assessments).
Now for those who are not worried about those pesky disabled deaths and want to talk money. According to The Office for National Statistics 16% that’s £41bn out of the total welfare budget of £258bn is spent on disability related benefits. Out of £258bn only £1.3bn is benefit fraud – however note this figure includes ‘government error’ not just ‘intentional fraud’ so actual fraud is even less. Nevertheless, compare this to £34bn of tax owed by the super rich and it’s not brain science to see where the real crime lies.
I thank all of you who have shown your support from the start, it was a breath of fresh air to know I was not alone. It’s important for *everyone* to fight for equity and equality. To live in an unjust society for a few, is to accept an unjust society for all and we cannot call ourselves a ‘developed’ country. It is also important to recognise this is not a ‘them and us’ situation. Disability can happen to anyone in a split second. We are you. You are potentially us. And we are all human. Big love ❤️
As Martin Niemöller wrote:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller 1892-1984