Contact details

As well as being a freelance writer I am also a qualified counsellor and I work for a low cost counselling service in Exeter and for the NHS Gender Clinic also in Exeter.

Simultaneously, I work as a Disability Member of the First Tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber sitting on disability benefit tribunals on an ad hoc basis.

As a writer I specialise in writing about disability and health.

My articles have been published in the Guardian, Times, OUCH! [BBC disability website], Disability Now, Broadcast, Lifestyle [Motability magazine], The Practising Midwife, 'Junior, Pregnancy & Baby', Writers' News, Able, Getting There [Transport for London magazine], Junior, Community Care, DPPi [Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood International]. I have also had articles commissioned by Daily Mail.

For more information about me and for examples of my writing please see below.

If you would like me to write an article for your publication, about any aspect of disability, please do get in touch:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A philosophical disability question...

Yesterday my now 6 year old son Archie [who has the same disability as me] asked me if I was disabled when I was a baby? The question had me slightly stumped because of course I was born with my disability but as a baby was I strictly speaking a 'disabled baby'?

OK some of my milestones might have been later than 'normal' but whether that really affected my then quality of life or justified being stamped with the label 'DISABLED' at that point I wasn't quite sure?

When does disability per se kick in? Is it when you start slipping away a bit too far from the norm [medical model of disability]? Or is it as you are increasingly subjected to a world that isn't accessible to you [social model of disability]?

NB The Medical Model of Disability is where the person's disability is blamed for what they can't do and the solutions are mainly medical eg surgery, physiotherapy and the like. However many Disabled people prefer the Social Model of Disability which refers to the way that they are more 'disabled' by society - by a lack of access, poor attitudes and bureaucratic systems.

Take Archie - he is now significantly shorter than his peers but of course this only becomes an issue in an inaccessible enviroment.... His most obvious difference now as a 6 year old boy is that he is significantly less mobile than his peers which means he's increasingly likely to be left out of riotous playground games and perhaps this is the sort of thing that will make him feel disabled?

I think it's probably fair to say that his experience of being a disabled child is starting to kick in more now and the interesting bit of how to deal with that [positively] is yet to come, tips on a postcard please...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Work life balancing act

Gosh what a neglected blog... Probably due to my new laid back approach of not pretending I am 'super disabled mother housewife writer' all rolled into one anymore.

Actually the only thing I have cut right down on [as I can't really cut out all the other roles] is the writer one. I found trying to work on top of trying to do everything else [including overseeing a house renovation] was tipping the balance for me.

I think for a while I was trying to prove I can be like all those amazing [non disabled] working mothers but I realised it was making me unhappy and TIRED.

Now my youngest is going to pre school more I do have more time and the idea of working is creeping back into my consciousness. But I'm going to make sure that I don't take on too much and slip back into trying to be 'disabled super mum' - it makes a great story on the surface but if underneath it makes you unhappy what's the point?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dancing on Wheels - BBC Three - The worst thing on TV

After the marvellous disability TV high of How to Look Good Naked - with a difference [Channel 4] where the fabulous Gok Wan worked with 3 disabled women to make them feel better about their bodies/disability we have plummeted to an all time TV low with Dancing on Wheels [BBC Three].

For those of you lucky enough not to have witnessed this awful programme the series follows 6 wheelchair users who have been partnered with 6 non disabled celebrities, the winner will go on to represent UK in Wheelchair Dance Sport European Championships in Irael in the Autumn [come on you must have heard of this competition the press are surely all over it every year....].

It's hard to know where to start with what is wrong with the series.

Firstly the 'wheelchair using contestants' are not people who have been honing their wheelchair dancing techniques for the last however many years, they are just wheelchair users who presumably fancied being on telly.

On the plus side some of celebrities have managed to get a bit of dancing practice on Strictly Come Dancing [BBC1] but none of them were winners, so it's hard to see how they should now be expected to become great dancers especially when given the added obstacle of dancing with someone who is sitting in a wheelchair.

So you have two people, neither of which is a professional dancer, who are given a bit of tuition by Strictly Come Dancing dancer Brian Fortuna, obviously he can't tutor them 24/7 because he has to tutor all 6 couples... Then after a bit of practice each couple perform their dance in some sort of derilict warehouse which they've spend £2.50 on in attempt to make it into a set. A few friends sit around on crappy chairs while the judging panel sit at some sort of makeshift table. It's all so cheap and it's definitely NOT Strictly.

The judging panel discuss who is the best of a bad lot and the 2 couples at the bottom of the pile have to inflict their dance on us all over again before being given the boot in a not very gripping final vote.

The lowest point of the programme I saw was when the celebrity was weeping over her poor disabled partner setting back the image that disabled people can actually 'have quite a good life thank you very much' by decades.

I wonder what insight they were hoping the series would give us into disability? Whatever it is I'm not getting it and I'm hoping everyone is way too busy watching Eastenders to bother trying to work it out.

Helen Rumbelow's review of the series in the Times did make me laugh, spot on:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Emotional wreck...

I feel like an emotional wreck tonight. Just watched Channel 4's 'Slumdog Secret Millionaire' where a London based millionaire goes over to Mumbai to see how the other half live - working on rubbish dumps and sleeping on the streets...

I then watched a video on the BBC news website of 2 children being dragged out from the carnage in Haiti. 5 days they'd been trapped.

Then earlier today I was sent an email from LPA [Little People of America] c/o an e mailing list I belong to for short people which features a list of children including:

2 year old Dillon - can count to ten and is already potty trained. He brings a smile to everyone around.

Adorable 6 year old - favourite things to play with are cubes and cars. He wants very much to belong to a family.

Boy 10 - desperately needs a family. Once he hits 14 Chinese law forbids him to be adopted.

The list actually goes on and on. These are all children who are waiting to be adopted. And what do they all have in common? They all have some form of short stature so they have been placed in homes, orphanages, call them what you will because they have been rejected by their families probably because of their disability. Most were in China so I guess they have been given up because that isn't the 'one child' the parents want.

If we think we still have a long way to go in terms of awareness about disability in this country I guess it's nothing compared to the countries these children have been abandoned in.