November’s Topic of the Month by Toni-Marie

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16th November 2021

Hello Readers!  My name is Toni-Marie. I will tell you just a little bit about my disability as I feel it is relevant. I have cerebral palsy quadriplegia and scoliosis of the spine. This means I am a full-time electric wheelchair user.

Topic Of The Month: Hobbies And Interests.

When I think about the topic of hobbies and interests what is blindingly obvious to me is that I have many interests such as music, theatre, art, photography, dance and wildlife! These can so easily fall into the category of a passion rather than just an interest! However, the truth is, I am unable to pursue them even as a hobby because I am unable to find any transport provision within my local community. Services that are willing to provide a reliable, fully accessible, flexible and friendly service.

I am painfully aware that this is an issue that affects hundreds of disabled people like myself. Even the few services that are available have very limited availability, making it very clear that they often don’t operate in the evenings or weekends. I cannot afford to dwell on this as it only serves to frustrate and upset me on behalf of every disabled person who is merely just trying to make the most of their lives.

Disabled people have a right to build a good social life within their own community just the same as everybody else. There is provision out there – if you are a provider of any such service then please do what is right and provide it for everyone. Those with disabilities often face the very real issues of:

Loneliness.

Isolation.

Exclusion.

A lack of suitable  transportation – or far worse, an unwillingness to provide it is the single most obstructive barrier which cements these three factors.

As a consequence of being sidelined by service providers, those with disabilities are forced to explore different ways of pursuing their hobbies and interests.

Here are a few tips which I hope will help you to be able to pursue a hobby or an interest if you can’t leave your house:

1. Find out if your neighbours have similar interests. Maybe you could have an afternoon together once a week on a regular basis to share your hobbies and interests.

2. Learn new skills and indulge your hobbies and interests via YouTube.

3. Make yourself something that you will use and always be able to appreciate.

4. Tap into things that are on your doorstep that may well provide you with an opportunity to pursue all your hobbies and interests. Through the local church for example.

5. You might find that someone living locally is looking for someone to share their same hobbies and interests with.

6. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and FaceTime can really help to create a different direction for your hobbies/interests. That said, I think there should be no substitute for actually meeting people who are very like-minded!

7. Make sure that your social needs are included in any of your dealings with professionals who support your life. Do not let it be an unmet need.

If you have a hobby, an interest or a very developed skill then it is so nice to be able to share it with all of those around you! You never know where this could lead you! And it creates a lot of joy for those who are perhaps less able to physically do the same thing…

Lastly, this  is a final plea to all of the local transport service providers… 

Please recognise that disabled people don’t need any more physical barriers in their lives… All we are wanting is a little help to create the same opportunities for ourselves as every other human being.

Start teaching yourself a new skill today!

Share it with all those around you!

Always see your ability in disability!

Thanks for reading!

Toni-Marie x


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