A lovely German friend of mine has just sent me a German proverb which translates to ‘where there is lots of light, there will be a lot of shadows as well’ and this has certainly been true.
As many people will know, I was a volunteer for adoption charities and for disabled organisations for many years. I sat on several steering groups to help improve situations for disabled people and even helped to recruit staff for East Sussex County Council - I did it all voluntarily because I was trying to help to make a difference.
I am very thankful and surprised at the amount of attention and publicity Charlie’s experience has been getting. It illustrates how many people believe that disability discrimination is not acceptable but, sadly, from the hundreds of messages I have received from people with disabilities and their families and carers, it would appear that it is still very much alive. I sincerely hope that this publicity can be used to try to eradicate this discrimination. Although the publicity, public interest and limelight of Charlie’s incident is dying down, I do not want disability discrimination awareness to die down. In particular, people need to understand that disability is not always visible.
As I said on BBC Sussex radio, I was contacted by a 25 year old man who is quite newly blind and he has had a lot of discrimination and obnoxious comments because people were annoyed at his stumbling. The reality of life for a person with disabilities and their parents and carers is that it is extremely difficult and often completely exhausting, without having to cope with unnecessary discrimination.
Finally, what would be wonderful - and positive - about this whole situation would be for it to set a precedent to ensure no one else has to suffer. Brighton is supposed to be an accepting and inclusive place and is a wonderful place to live - DISABILITY PRIDE anyone?