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You get what you vote for, use your vote wisely… #GE2019


[Video and text credit,
Christopher John Ball]

There is more at stake in this 2019 UK General Election than Brexit. Please use your vote responsibly and with compassion for others. For how you vote impacts others. Disabled people have been hit very hard indeed by the Conservative policies of this government. The UN researched the impact of said policies upon disabled people and found that they had created a ‘human catastrophe’. Disabled people have died as a result of these pernicious policies. The film includes several examples of the monochrome photographs I have made whilst campaigning as a member of ‘Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

Suddenly

**MUSICAL INTERLUDE**

No wonder Mr Anderson is angry, so would you be if you had his dentist.

I wish I could stop watching TOTP 1988 on BBC Four. I was watching it last night and watched Angry Anderson perform his one and only hit, propelled by the popularity of an Australian soap opera.

I always had the subtitles on when watching classic Top of the Pops, so that I can enjoy the lyrics being sung. I usually end up catching on to one particular line from a song and correlating it to my own life. I don’t know why I am admitting this, but I am. Last night, I found myself  wishing that somebody would read my Open Letter and “suddenly see me, just the way I am”.

It was with this profound thought that I finally fell to sleep, but not before I found out who was keeping Anderson off the top spot. Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan were at number 2 with Especially For You but I should never have stayed up to see who was on top of the charts. As soon as Caron Keating announced that week’s biggest seller I began to grab for my remote to switch the TV off. Unfortunately, my fumble fingers are too slow to react so I had to endure thirty seconds of the awful earworm that is Mistletoe and Wine by Cliff Richard.

*** 

I know this was back in 1988, but my worry is that I have never trusted the British public whatsoever as I always seem to disagree with their opinions. This is particularly concerning ahead of the most important General Election in a generation.

It is difficult to gauge what exactly is going to happen on Thursday, as it is impossible to trust the nonsense that is being peddled by the mass media. I am preparing myself for the worse possible scenario, but at the same time I have faith and belief in Jeremy Corbyn and his Cabinet.

I am growing ever more anxious as we edge ever closer to the General Election. I am doing all I can to get the Labour message out there, but due to my disability this is largely confined to sharing stories on my blog and social media. I have also got Labour posters in my window. This would have more of an impact if I didn’t live on a cul-de-sac, but it is a bit late in the day to be moving house to a more prime location. If I could do more, I would, but circumstances dictate.

My friends and neighbours who receive Xmas cards before Thursday will be reminded on the envelope to Vote Labour while I am also giving a poetry reading at Glyndwr University on Tuesday, dressed in a Vote Labour t-shirt. Every little helps…

#VoteLabour2019 #JC4PM2019

 

The Search for Happiness

One of my guilty secrets is a passion for watching soap operas. I like to think that I actively watch them and don’t just waste a couple of hours everyday mindlessly staring at the goggle-box surrounded by empty pizza boxes and bottles of Diet Coke.

For example, the title of my first book – Every Silver Lining has a Cloud – was taken from an episode of Coronation Street. There was a scene set in Roy’s Rolls in which Roy Cropper’s mother – Sylvia (Stephanie Cole) – uttered the negative take on a positive line. This appealed to me and I stored it away in my memory bank as a potential title that sums up my particular brand of humour.

I was watching Eastenders the other night and I heard a fantastic quote from Callum “Halfway” Highway (Tony Clay) who was in an ambulance talking with Bobby Beale:

`”Listen, I’ve spent years not accepting who I am. Fighting all this stuff, but it’s my stuff.  And there ain’t no point in fighting it any more.  You’ve got to find a way of accepting yourself, all of yourself. Even the bits you’ve spent ages telling yourself you don’t like. If you’re brave enough to do that, then you’re brave enough to do anything.”

This is such a strong statement that spoke to me personally and made me consider whether or not I am brave enough to accept who I am in my entirety.  I want to reach such a point where I am happy and confident in myself, but the difficult thing about living with Ataxia is that it is a progressive disease. Therefore, I have to constantly re-evaluate the situation that I find myself in and learn to accept my place in society all over again.

I am sure my readers can understand that things aren’t straightforward, but I remain determined to find the door that leads to something known as happiness…

It seems like an impossible quest at the moment. All I know is what doesn’t make me happy. At times this seems like a never ending list of inaccessible activities, or hostile locations without suitable toilet facilities cut off by flights of stairs. Don’t get me started on the arrogant attitudes of many who should know better. It seems that the goal of inclusive community remains a distant dream.

I have some interesting telephone calls and potential plans in my diary for the coming weeks. Hopefully I will be able to reveal more soon, as I try to discover what, if anything, actually make me happy.

The following information was taken from Wikipedia:

Steven Patrick Morrissey (/ˈmɒrɪsiː/; born 22 May 1959), known mononymously as Morrissey, is an English singer, songwriter, and author. He came to prominence as the frontman of the rock band the Smiths, which was active from 1982 to 1987. Since then, he has pursued a commercially successful solo career. Morrissey’s music is characterised by his baritone voice and distinctive lyrical content featuring recurring themes of emotional isolation, sexual longing, self-deprecating and black humour, and anti-establishment stances.

National Hate Crime Awareness Week

This morning, I received the following email from Disability Wales and I thought it was worth sharing with my readers. If anyone is suffering from disability hate crime, then they shouldn’t feel alone. There is help out there. If this article persuades anyone to take positive action, then it will have served its purpose.

***

It’s National Hate Crime Awareness Week 12th – 19th October 2019.  Let’s raise awareness of and tackle Disability Hate Crime!

What is Disability Hate crime?

A disability hate crime is a criminal offence that is motivated by hostility or prejudice based upon the victim’s impairment or perceived impairment.

What type of incidents can be a disability hate incident?

Verbal and physical abuse, teasing, violence, bullying, online abuse, threatening or insulting texts and damage to property all become hate crimes when they’re motivated by prejudice or hate towards someone because they are disabled.

It can be a one-off incident or part of an ongoing campaign of harassment or intimidation.  Hate incidents are not only carried out by strangers. It could be carried out by a carer, a neighbour, a teacher or someone considered a friend.

Mate crime

Mate crime is when someone befriends someone with the intention of taking advantage of them.  They pretend to be a friend.   Mate crime is a severely under-reported element of disability hate crime committed against people with learning difficulties, in particular.

People who commit mate crimes are often nice to people ‘their victims’ to start with but then the relationship can become insidious.  They might start to bully their victim, call them horrible names, ask for and steal money from them, physically and/or sexually abuse the person they befriend.

Take a look at the powerful videos produced by Gwent and Newport People First.  These videos are based on real experiences of mate crime.

Mate crime is NOT acceptable!  It is a crime.  If you or anyone you know is experiencing this, please report it.

Reporting a Hate Crime

If you think you have been a victim of hate crime you can call your local police force to report it on:

  • 101 (non-emergency) or
  • 999 (if it is an emergency)

If you do not feel ready to go to the police you can also contact Report Hate Crime Wales today 24/7 365 days a year on 0300 3031 982 you can email them at Hate.CrimeWales@victimsupport.org.uk  or you can report confidentially online.

Treating someone badly because they are disabled is wrong and against the law.  Please don’t suffer in silence, tell someone and report it today!

 Reporting leads to positive outcomes

A mate crime case was referred to Victim Support (VS).  The victim was a disabled person living in sheltered accommodation.  They were befriended by a neighbour who over a period of time received money from them with a promise to repay and also took money from their bank account. The total amount taken was in excess of £17,000.

When they referred to VS, the case was due to be heard in court in three months’ time. They felt “scared to death” about giving evidence in court and the incident had a huge emotional impact on them.

The VS caseworker:

  • Discussed ‘mate crime’ with them and provided emotional support over the telephone for the impact of the mate crime
  • Discussed special measures for the court date
  • Advocated with Witness Care to ensure they were kept updated regarding the trial process and that their wishes were known
  • Referred them for a pre-trial visit, which was later done
  • Advocated with Witness care to apply for taxi’s for the court day due to their alcohol dependency & low income – This was granted by the Crown Prosecution Service
  • Ensured that Witness Care updated them with the sentencing outcome

The client did not have to give evidence in court as the defendant changed their plea to guilty on the day of the trail – They were sentenced to 42 months in prison for 2 counts of fraud. Emotional support was given to the client following this and a personal alarm was provided due to their worries of potential repercussions from the husband of the offender. Safety advice was also given around this issue.

Real case study provided by Report Hate Wales, Victim Support Oct 2019

Victim Support runs the National Hate Crime Report and Support Centre for Wales which is funded by the Welsh Government. They have created a film to help raise awareness of what a hate crime is, the impact hate crimes can have, how to access support and how to report hate crimes.  Watch now: https://youtu.be/CmtnRDXGRuY

Useful reading…

Scapegoat: Why are we failing disabled people by Katherine Quarmby

“A must-read for anyone aiming to tackle disability hate crime!”

“I won’t belong to a club that does not accept me as a member”

I have been a supporter of Wrexham AFC for 35 years. I have ploughed tens of thousands of pounds into the club I love. My relationship with the football club has been the one consistent relationship in my life and  outlasted failed relations with the opposite sex. I believed I would be Wrexham til I die, but unfortunately things don’t always turn out the way you expect them to.

The way the Disabled Supporters Association has been treated over the past few years is nothing short of a disgrace. The DSA is run by a team of dedicated committee members who represent the best interests of football supporters from all walks of life. They have done a sterling job in trying to maintain a community feel around a heartless carcass of a club.

The official club statement below describes the club’s biased view, but there are two sides to every story. I have been busy with the #SaveWILG campaign so have not been able to give this divide my full attention. I only know that instead of welcoming disabled supporters, Wrexham AFC are driving them away and totally failing in their moral obligations to the community at large.

Nothing has happened with regard to the resolution that myself and Ian Parry made to the Wrexham Supporters Trust (WST) AGM back in 2018. To read the full story about this, click here.

Because I no longer feel welcomed at the Racecourse, it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to cancel my monthly direct debit to the WST. I cannot justify giving any more money to an organisation that clearly does not value my presence at games. Last season, the club actually used a hashtag at the end of their tweets – #WeAreOneTeam. This is an absolute joke and I encourage everyone with an ounce of solidarity and common decency to listen to their hearts before deciding whether or not to return to the Racecourse while the current regime is in control.

Wrexham fans might be interested in knowing about the eBay auctions that I will be listing soon of all the merchandise I have collected since we have been under the ownership of the WST. I have to find a way of getting some compensation. I will notify readers when these auctions go live.

I will still be writing my book about the history of the club. The volume will only focus on our time in the Football League when it was worth attending the Racecourse. I can’t recall the last time I actually got excited at a Wrexham game. Sadly, I just don’t have the time to waste anymore. The median age of death for someone with Friedreich’s Ataxia is 35. I am now 42 and determined to squeeze the most out of life while I can.

Cheers WST, you may have done me a favour…

 ***

WST STATEMENT | STATEMENT REGARDING WREXHAM DSA & VIEWING PLATFORM

The Wrexham Supporters Trust need to respond to a growing social media storm regarding the club taking over the stewarding of the viewing platform at the Racecourse from the Wrexham Disabled Supporters Association. It is important that the situation is clarified and people understand the background to the decision.

Before the game vs Ebbsfleet

In the run up to the home fixture vs Ebbsfleet United, Wrexham AFC received a request from the DSA for complimentary tickets and a presentation on the pitch before our game against St Mirren Colts on Saturday, 12th October for a group called the ‘Allies in Access’.

Unfortunately we were unable to facilitate this request on this occasion as rules of the competition do not allow for complimentary tickets to be given away, apart from those stipulated by the competition.

The presentation on the pitch was for the ‘Allies in Access’ group who had won an award recently at the ‘Fans for diversity’ awards, which Wrexham DSA attended. The Allies in Access are a group based in the West Midlands, who represent their clubs, Walsall, Wolves, West Brom, Birmingham and Aston Villa. The group support their own clubs with disability requirements.

Unfortunately, Wrexham AFC were further unable to facilitate this request due to the tunnel area being restricted from 2pm onwards on matchday. This operation is standard practice at all of our home games.

As a compromise, the WST and Wrexham AFC offered the DSA to invite the ‘Allies in Access’ group for a pitchside photograph on a non-match day, an offer that is still open.

Upon receiving the news, the DSA contacted the club on Friday, 27th September to inform us they were going on ‘strike’ and would not be attending the Ebbsfleet game the following day in protest.

The DSA also informed our stadium manager and our DLO they were not prepared to supply the names of the supporters attending the platform and intended not to run their Audio Descriptive Commentary (ADC).

This left Wrexham AFC in a difficult position, with no alternative other than to steward the platform ourselves, so some of our most vulnerable supporters received the match day services they have become accustomed to.

Wrexham AFC contacted the suppliers of the ADC to see if we could make alternative arrangements to allow our supporters who use the service an option to have the commentary on the day. As a contingency measure we made plans for the commentators to sit next to the users of the commentary service.

The day of the game vs Ebbsfleet

Thankfully a DSA committee member contacted the club on the Saturday morning to say that they were prepared to organise the ADC, as Wrexham AFC did not have access to the equipment required. Wrexham AFC are grateful to the DSA committee member for providing the service, as we know how valuable it is to those supporters who use the ADC.

At midday in the run up to the game the DSA having previously informed us they were withholding the names of who was due to be on the platform, thankfully changed their stance and provided the names of the platform users to the club.

Unfortunately, Wrexham AFC were unable to provide any assistance with the car parking at Glyndwr University. Wrexham AFC do not have an organising relationship for activities in the car park area, which are usually carried out by the DSA in conjunction with the owners of the car park.

Following the Ebbsfleet Fixture

An email was sent to the DSA the following Thursday, as we had not been informed if they were intending to resume their role providing stewarding on the platform for the fixture vs Harrogate Town. So that alternative arrangements could be arranged in time, a deadline was put in place, if the deadline wasn’t met, the club would need seek to make alternative arrangements, as 12pm is the cut off for making professional staffing arrangements.

The DSA replied to an email after the deadline and as such Wrexham AFC operations had already acted to put alternative arrangements into place to ensure the platform could be used by our supporters, both on Tuesday and for the rest of the season, so we can be certain to keep continuity of service to fans.

The decision was not taken lightly and given the situation, Kerry Evans, Wrexham AFC Disability Liaison Officer has agreed to take over the organisation of the platform alongside her other roles at the club, which will not be affected by her taking the extra work on.

The DSA kindly agreed to deliver the ADC at the Ebbsfleet game and have been invited to continue to deliver the service at the Racecourse Ground on match days. Should the DSA feel unable to provide the receivers to our supporters who use the service, Wrexham AFC will look to source more receivers to ensure ADC can continue.

There appears to be some confusion among supporters regarding the DSA and disability projects that are being run by Wrexham AFC through Kerry Evans.

Wrexham AFC projects include:

  • The Autism Friendly area and quiet room
  • Accessible away travel scheme
  • Kerry has been instrumental in Wrexham AFC and The Racecourse being the first professional football club in Wales to be granted Autism Friendly status
  • Dementia friendly status for the ground
  • Autism friendly football sessions
  • Anti-bullying workshops in schools
  • Representing Wrexham AFC in her official capacity at many community events in the area. Kerry will continue to provide our supporters with all the usual along with these extra tasks.

The DSA’s role on matchdays has been:

  • Stewarding the viewing plaform
  • Handing out receivers for the ADC
  • Working with the WSA on the Blue badge car parking
  • Supporting Wrexham DSA members

In the spirit of openness and transparency, below is a copy of the email sent to the DSA informing them of the decision by Wrexham AFC.

We would prefer to resolve these issues in a face to face meeting and by reasonable discussion, but when individuals resort to social media it is important that the full facts are brought to the attention of our supporters. That is why we have taken the unusual step of making this statement.

Ultimately all of us want to provide the best facilities for all our fans and our DLO in particular has worked tirelessly to help bring that about. In fairness to her (and our other volunteers) it is important that the full facts are aired in response to what others have chosen to publish.

“Thanks for your reply Andy.

Unfortunately as the DSA did not reply until after the 12pm deadline, which was required by us, Wrexham AFC had no alternative but to ensure the services were available for some of our most vulnerable of supporters.

As such, the DSA presence will not be required on the platform for Tuesday evening at Wrexham AFC and for the remainder of the season. Our disabled supporters rely on the provision of services and we have to ensure they continue to receive a high quality service without the potential for any possible disruption as it really makes a difference to their match day experience.

Wrexham AFC will continue to strive for excellence with regards to inclusion and diversity as anyone would expect as a minimum. This has been a difficult decision to take by Wrexham AFC but we must ensure the services for some of our most vulnerable supporters are never placed in jeopardy and taking these services in house is the most sensible solution at this time. Wrexham AFC will strive to improve on the services currently offered which I am sure you would welcome.

I would like to add our gratitude to Darren for facilitating the ADC on Saturday. The continuation of this service is a high priority for Wrexham AFC and if you can commit and guarantee to providing the service you would be welcomed to do so on behalf of the football club. Should you be unable to guarantee providing the service to our supporters who gain an enhanced match day service, Wrexham AFC will have no option other than to source alternative arrangements. Feedback from the supporters who use the ADC has been so positive, we know how much they value the service and will take all steps necessary to ensure its continuation.

With regards to any meeting, Wrexham AFC were unaware of any issue until the request one made by the DSA for tickets and pitch presentation for the St Mirren Colts game, unfortunately this was unable to be facilitated. Alternative arrangements were offered for the allies in access group to attend the ground on a non match day to have a pitch side presentation but we have not heard back regarding the offer which still stands. Should you wish to email a request with an agenda for items you wish to discuss at a meeting we would look to meet you at a convenient time and date in the near future.

Wrexham AFC would like to thank you for your past presence on the viewing platform and hope we can continue working together in providing services to some of our most vulnerable supporters in the future.”

Issued jointly by: Wrexham AFC Operations and Wrexham Supporters Trust Governing Body.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot

I have found a new hero.

John Callahan is someone to admire and revere. I have only just been introduced to his work, through the film ‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot’, which was sent to me by my friend Ted Eames.

After sharing this with my followers on Facebook, another of my good friends, Brian Hilton, alerted me to the documentary ‘Touch Me Someplace I Can Feel’. This is a magnificent slice of reality that allows me to relate to the cartoonist in so many ways. I found myself being filled with inspiration and fresh new ideas that will no doubt be highlighted on this blog in the coming months.

Who can fail to be inspired by quotes such as the following from ‘Touch Me Someplace I Can Feel’ ?

“Giving up is one of the best things you can do. Just finally give up. Trying to manage is just ridiculous really, because you just drive yourself crazy with your thoughts. I think surrendering to your real true nature, then, I think you have peace finally.”

Or cartoons like this:

28callahanimgB-jumbo

For now, I will just provide further information and details of the films I enjoyed so much over the past couple of rainy days.

***

The following information has been taken from Wikipedia.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is a 2018 American comedy-drama film based upon the memoir of the same name by John Callahan.[4] Gus Van Sant wrote the screen adaptation and directed the film. The cast includes Joaquin PhoenixJonah HillRooney Mara, and Jack Black, and follows a recently paralyzed alcoholic who finds a passion for drawing off-color newspaper cartoons.

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2018, and was released on July 13, 2018, by Amazon Studios.

***

The following summary of ‘Touch Me Someplace I Can Feel’ has been taken from IMDb. 

This is a documentary about the provocative American cartoonist John Callahan. At the age of 21 Callahan got involved in a serious car-accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. Drawing cartoons has become his way to express himself although he can hardly use his hands. With a raw style, pen clutched between his hands, he draws cynical and ruthless observations of mankind. His work is praised and criticised. Callahan has provoked protest-marches and receives many angry letters. He was fired at The Miami Herald journal after drawing a cartoon in honour of Martin Luther King Jr. Day; a little boy with a wet spot on his pyjamas saying: “Mommie I had a dream”. Callahan does not understand why people get so upset about his work but he admits at having been an angry young man for a long time, trying to point the hypocrisy of people. Callahan also writes ànd sings songs. He likes to play the ukulele, something that is very hard for him to do. Of course the songs are no lullabies, lines like “Life is like a box of hand-grenades” and “Something always keeps me from committing suicide in the fall” reflect his way of thinking.

Touch me Someplace I Can Feel’ can be rented via YouTube. 

You can read all about John Callahan on his Wikipedia page.

 

The Last Time? #SaveWILG

I received the following email to inform me that the Petitions Committee at the Senedd will be discussing my petition to Save the Welsh Independent Living Grant on Tuesday 17th September at 9.00.  This may be one of the final times that the petition is considered by the committee in question, considering how far we have come over the last seven months.

We are still waiting for our reassessments, but the end is in sight…

Nevertheless, I would still recommend that all those affected by WILG should tune in to the following:

***

Dear Petitioner

Your petition will be considered at our next meeting on Tuesday 17 September at 9.00.

I enclose a link to the Agenda and Public Papers for your consideration:

http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=430&MId=5650&Ver=4

A live broadcast of the meeting will be available on Senedd TV at:

http://www.senedd.tv/

Kind regards,

Petitions Committee