Covid has taught us many lessons about kindness, community, family and the importance of socialising. It had been quietly encouraging to see people experience our way of life- locked in, unable to see friends and family, unable to commute to work… I know some people have definitely held this experience and vowed to remember and learn more about how to make themselves and their workplaces more accessible and to keep their empathy.
I personally have been given the gift of both time and energy. As a person with invisible disabilities, nine years of my 14-year career as a garment technologist in the fashion industry had been overshadowed by rarely being allowed to work remotely and being forced to commute, even when I went freelance. It cost me my health on many occasions as well as my job when ultimately, I could not maintain a five-day a week role.
Against that however looms the memory of the first lockdown and the eugenics; yes, eugenics, that was quietly rolled out amongst the disabled and elderly community.
‘There were the endless streams of social media rants where people felt no shame in saying for the good of the economy the vulnerable should take the hit and sacrifice themselves for the greater good’
There is now an inquiry into the blanket Do No Resuscitate orders sent to people of varying age with existing conditions and disabilities whilst they were at home, with no symptoms, effectively saying if they presented at hospital, they would not be treated and left to die.
That’s bad enough, but then there were the endless streams of social media rants where people felt no shame in saying for the good of the economy the vulnerable should take the hit and sacrifice themselves for the greater good.
This is still eugenics – which technically should be a hate crime and not something you can comfortably rant about on a social media platform but here we are.
‘We’ only made it illegal to force sterilisation on people with disabilities in 2013 and making it illegal doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen.
On a brighter note this last year has been the most productive for me. I found energy to push my socially responsible adaptive fashion brand for people with disabilities (called Unhidden) that was registered in 2017 after a hospital bed epiphany a year earlier that I just hadn’t had the time or energy to move forward.
I co-founded another company, No Comment Required, an ethical slogan clothing range advocating for positive representation of mental health, disability and environmental issues, with someone I met online in lockdown one!
I have stepped deeper into becoming a disability advocate and speaker. I have just finished writing a book – The Little Book of Ableism- as a guide and tool for anyone who wants to practise better inclusion for people with disabilities.
There is such a rush to go back to normal that I think we need to remember that normal wasn’t working for 15% of the global population and that we are being left out and forgotten again.
I am here to raise awareness and examine and explain ableism in a non-judgemental, easy-to-understand way. Together, in kindness, we can make the largest marginalised group in the world – the one we may all at any moment join – feel included instead of left out, taboo and hidden.