Sunday, 19 November 2017
Made Possible is under way
It’s a month since Made Possible reached 100% crowdfunding, so this is a quick update on progress.
If you've read my previous updates, then sorry for repeating myself, but this book would simply not be happening without its incredible supporters. Thank you - to be fully funded in just six weeks shows how much this book is wanted and needed.
Thanks also to those continuing to spread word about #MadePossible on social media (you know who you are, you briliant cheerleaders - I'm enormously grateful).
So, the initial research is under way and I'll spend much of the next year editing and writing. I’m really excited about working with Made Possible’s contributors, with the first few meetings lined up in coming weeks.
To give a flavour of what to expect (forgive me for quoting myself here): “This book’s diverse range of contributors have won national accolades in competitive fields such as film, theatre, television, music, fine art, campaigning and politics. How have they achieved this? Raw talent? Determination? Money? Luck? Family help?”
What’s also important in Made Possible is the definition of success. My learning disabled sister’s achievements, for example, don't include national accolades, but they do include going out with her mates, learning a new skill or choosing what she wants to stick in her shopping trolley – you know, living a life, doing the stuff the rest of us do but is somehow denied to someone with a learning disability.
The fact that learning disabled people’s potential is overlooked was the focus of an article I've just done for the Guardian. Martin, 22, pictured below, works part time (a paid role) at a local radio station. He told me that without his job he “would be at home doing nothing or going out and spending money”. His aim? “I want to save and become more independent.” Like any young person.
You can read the story here.
I was really pleased to talk about the book and the ideas behind it at an event in Birmingham a few days ago. The Leaving No One Behind conference on disability, inclusion and rights organised by the charity Include Me Too and community platform World Health Innovation Summit.
Joining a panel about media, I talked about the role of the press in shaping attitudes. This blogpost reflects what I said (nutshell version: "Scrouger or superhero - and little inbetween"). And this comment from the disability activist Paul Hunt, which I used in my presentation, reflects why we need to change the narrative.
That quote, as many of you will know, is from 1966. More than 50 years ago.
What has really changed since then? And austerity and welfare reform are compounding the issue.
Yet readers will care more about the inequality experienced by learning disabled people if they feel closer to the real people experiencing that inequality. If people stop seeing learning disabled individuals as somehow “other”, stop seeing them as statistics and as people first, we have a better chance of shifting attitudes.
Which is why this book is so crucial.