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:

Monday, March 24, 2014

The power of the 'Can Do' Attitude...

I've come to the conclusion that it is essential for children to find something they CAN do and want to 'get into'.  When they find that thing it not only boosts their confidence and happiness while they are doing it but those positive effects permeate into other areas of their life too.

This is particularly important for a disabled child because so often they are comparing themselves [or are compared] to their peers and focusing on all the things they can't do.

So I was particularly pleased when my son Archie, who also has Kniest, recently won the 2013 ‘On the Move’ national competition for photographers with disabilities which is jointly organised by Mobility Choice, the charity responsible for delivering The Mobility Roadshow, and the Disabled Photographers’ Society (DPS).

He was so chuffed and last week even made it into the local paper so that won him some additional kudos at school too:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

East Midlands Trains - Winner of my 2014 'Can't Do' Attitude Award [will anyone beat this?]

Well all I wanted to do was book a train from where I live to Loughborough to attend a training course for a job I've just got.  Just how hard can that be?

A Non Disabled Person's Experience of booking a train ticket:

A non disabled person would go to a train website, put in the details of where/when they want to travel, pick the appropriate tickets and pay for them. 

Bingo!  Job done. 

Time taken:  less than 5 mins.

A Disabled Person's Experience of booking a train ticket:

A disabled person would go to a train website, put in the details of where/when they want to travel, pick out the appropriate tickets they'd like to book...

Armed with this information they would then have to ring to book the tickets and assistance on a special assistance line.

They would have to go through all the relevant details, bit by bit.  [In my case I'd have to argue for a while about needing to take a mobility scooter on the train - something I've done numerous times without an issue at the station].  Once they'd gone through this then they would book the tickets.  Then they would have to go back over all the details again to book the assistance, bit by bit.

Time taken:  about 30 mins.

But the problem with the journey I wanted to do was that it involved a leg with East Midlands Trains.  The man at South West Trains who I use to book my tickets and assistance with insisted I called East Midlands Trains before booking...

So I call East Midlands Trains, I'm immediately told they have a very stringent scooter policy, health and safety and all that. 

However, I explain that I have a very small scooter confident they can't possibly have an issue with it.  As soon as the scooter name comes out of my mouth the man at the end of the phone says 'No, can't take that one.'  He goes on to explain that he personally has seen one tip over on the ramp.  I say OK I can walk it up the ramp.  No not possible apparently too dangerous.

He suggests I get a wheelchair - but I don't have a wheelchair, I don't want a wheelchair, I already have a scooter which I feel very comfortable and confident on.  I would not feel either in a wheelchair.

He then suggests that I could pack the scooter into a carry case [my scooter doesn't have a carry case] and carry it on to the train. 

The scooter is 30kg.  I'm 4ft tall, about 42kg in weight, all my joints are stiff and deformed, I find steps difficult, I find train steps impossible.  As you can imagine carrying a scooter onto the train would be very difficult for me - and what about my health and safety?  East Midlands rules clearly doesn't apply to me?  Cheers.

I'm told the trains weren't built for taking scooters and that the man's own partner has a disability and can't travel on her scooter on the trains as if though that will make me feel better - it doesn't, it makes me feel angry - so she's not allowed on the trains either - there's another name for this Discrimination [under the guise of Health and Safety].

So Thank You East Midlands Trains for pulling out all the stops so I CAN'T travel on your trains, you've been SO helpful.

I'm going to drive.