Wherever possible we try to get out and meet disabled people and those organisations involved with them, to keep abreast of current thinking – and to have a bit of fun.
The second Alf Morris lecture was delivered in London in March by guest speakers of hosts Disabled Living Foundation, political broadcaster, Andrew Marr and his wife, renowned journalist, Jackie Ashley, who talked about their own experiences and ideas regarding the support available for disabled people.
Andrew Marr survived a stroke in January 2013 and with help from his wife and a host of healthcare professionals continues to recover, although there are still ongoing challenges to overcome.
Interestingly, the lecture was given just a day after George Osborne’s spring budget announcement that there would be further cuts to disability benefits. Marr, as a BBC correspondent is unable to break political neutrality but Ashley weighed in early on in the talk to suggest that “I think the things I heard yesterday were pretty shameful”.
I was again happy to accept an invitation from the German National Tourist Board to travel to Berlin, Wolfsburg and Magdeburg to see more additions to the already impressive roster of ‘Barrier Free’ attractions and destinations. Among the highlights were visits to a somewhat eye-opening cabaret performance, a tour around the incredible Phaeno science centre in Wolfsburg and an accessible tree-top tour in the woods of Bad Harzburg but the real highlight was traversing to the top of the historic Reichstag building in the Capital and taking in views of that ever-extraordinary city.
I must also thank the Queen Elizabeth Foundation (QEF) who recently curated an exhibition largely of photographs marking their eightieth year. Rather than just an exercise in self-applause QEF used their archive materials to show the developing landscape of how disability is viewed and dealt with in the UK. Earlier materials feature language and notions that are at once distasteful to twenty-first century ears. The exhibition celebrated how times have changed as well as how QEF continues to challenge for the creation of greater opportunities for disabled people.
I’m always interested in hearing about your event, so drop me a line or invite me along and I might just see you there.