After Lockdown Ends

Hello again, 

This post is going to be about the impact of easing COVID-19 on Disabled people. I will also be taking a closer look at what it will be like from a Visually impaired persons perspective. 

Over the past few days I have been worrying about what going back to work will look like. What the new normal will look like. Many disabled people are worried about this too. Making very valid points about how we as a community have been forgotten.

Throughout this whole pandemic the Disabled Community has been forgotten. We exist, we have voices and we have a right to exist. According to Scope there are 13.9 million Disabled people living in the UK. As Dan White rightly pointed out on Twitter, where is the Minister for Disabled people being outraged on our behalf with regards to the lack of support we have had during this lockdown period? 

According to Scope 19% of working age adults are disabled, which means that more than 3.7 million disabled adults work. According to the RNIB’s website ‘As of 2017, there are around 350,000 people on the registers of blind and partially sighted people in the U.K’.

Mik Scarlet tweeted ‘Well, the fears of disabled people being forgotten as lockdown is lifted appear to be founded. In London @TfL & the rail sector seem to be introducing systems that exclude us. No assistance offered at all, no Turn Up & Go & no car zones. Only solution offered? @The_LCDC.’ 

I completely agree with Mik as this has also been the case throughout the whole of the lockdown period. As a visually impaired person I am being asked to practice social distancing. How am I to do this when I have poor eye sight? 

My guide cane is supposed to aid my navigating in general and now helps me to social distance. However, on a normal day people push past me to get on the train. Step over my guide cane to get to priority seats while saying ‘Oh sorry…’ and not moving at all. 

As I write this I am reminded of this exact incident on a train. Another passenger got on, pushing past me as I tried to navigate between the seats. They stepped over my Guide Cane, I pulled it little higher, they stayed exactly where they were, giving no option but to pull my Guide Cane from between their legs and they continued on  to sit down in the priority seat. I said in a sarcastic tone ‘Oh sorry…’ to which they replied ‘Its OK’. Thankfully a woman saw this, moved her bags and allowed me to sit in the other priority seat. If you are able to push past someone in that manner then you need to stop being so self centred. 

Thinking back to Mikes comments around there being no thought by our government to help disabled people with travel, if there has been, I genuinely haven’t seen it. How are Disabled people supposed to deal with the attitudes we already have to put up with- as my experience above shows, and the new ways in which we are expected to live? 

Below I have taken a few Key Points from the Guide Dogs website around assisting visually impaired or blind people when considering social distancing. 

1) ‘People with sight loss will often have difficulty finding a seat. During the pandemic, and when it is possible that some seats are blocked off, it will be even harder for them to do so. Please ask the passenger if they need help identifying a vacant seat and that is a safe distance from other passengers.

2) Bus drivers will always prioritise the safety of all their passengers, but it is essential that vision impaired passengers are able to get off the bus at the correct stop. It can be frustrating and disorientating for a vision impaired passenger to miss their bus stop but this could be even more of an issue during the pandemic as changes to normal road and pavement layouts may be brought in to facilitate social distancing. Added to which, people may find it difficult to ask the general public for help when dropped off at an unfamiliar location.

3) Provide clear instructions when describing a route or when you would like the person to change direction e.g. left and right

4) Having identified the appropriate seat, describe its location (e.g. “just coming up on your left left/right, facing towards/ away from you”) and whether it is airline style or has a table. Before leaving, describe the layout of the carriage including the location of toilets in relation to where the passenger is sitting and the layout of any social distancing restrictions in place.’

When considering these points I would like to link back to my experience I wrote about earlier. People do not afford Disabled people the space they require already, never mind with the impact of social distancing. How are we supposed to feel safe in this new way of living? We are relying heavily on others. As I am looking at this from a visually impaired persons perspective I am extremely concerned there is a lot of talk around one way systems, changing road and pavement layouts, moving seating from inside to outside…all of these elements rely on you being able to be visually aware. 

It appears as though life outside London does not exist to a lot of people at the moment. Whenever you see the news it’s all London centric, as a lot of the time it is. Now apply those same feelings of being ignored by your government during a pandemic but to all the time. We are constantly forgotten, ignored and then when we are listened to we are given the minimum amount of attention. 

It is left to people like myself Mik Scarlet, Dan White, Chloe Tear, Philippa Claire, Dr. Amy Kavenaugh, Luke Sam Sowden, Pippa and so many more to make our voices heard. Then we have all the fabulous charities who pick up the pieces left behind after the government have made sweeping statements and generalised assumptions to say, ‘excuse me, but what about these groups of people?’ Charities like Scope, Guide Dogs and The RNIB. You do have localised parts of government who work exceptionally hard with to support the disabled community. However they are dealing the pressures imposed by recent governments on financial cut backs. A discussion for another time. 

The sad part is it is not just done in relation to the Disabled Community. No. Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority groups deal with this too. However this is again an argument for another blog post. 

Please do check out the people I have mentioned above, they do some fabulous work and I would love to have a coffee with them and have a good dissuasion in person about what needs to change. But until then I shall follow them on Twitter. 

Please please please be kind when you go out and use public transport, do not just look up, see a person with a white cane and ignore us. Do not think the person who has ignored you is rude, they could be Deaf or Hard of Hearing. If you see a wheel chair user do not start to push them, ask if they need help. We are people first. Where our government has failed to help us in this pandemic we rely on the good will of people around us to help. We do not deserve to be forgotten. That is why I am writing this post. I am genuinely worried and upset. 

I have text my friends and spoken to my work. They have all said not to worry and that they will be there for me. We will get though this together. Which I fully appreciate and am grateful for. However I deserve to have the respect of everyone around me, of my government, regardless of my Disability. This goes for every person in this country. We deserve to be heard. 

Thank you again for listening, if you would like to help with the Guide Dogs Campaign to ensure table operators are supporting the Blind and Visually impaired correctly please click here. 

I’m on Twitter: @PhilippaB

Instagram: @VisuallyImpairedPip


Reflections on the new ways of living

As we all know the Coronavirus has taken its toll on our lives over the past few months, I’m not just talking about the lockdown in the UK or Europe. I mean everywhere. We are being made to re consider what is important to us. How do we live, work and socialise.

A while ago I wrote a post about what I hope we all take from this situation. Maybe we should start to slow down and take a look at where we are and what we have now. We’re always wanting more, quicker and faster…that’s how we are expected to live.

Even during the lock down we are expected to learn a new skill, read more, do yoga etc. But then when we talk to one another we realise that no one really expects us to do this if we don’t want too. Our friends and family, the people who matter expect us to do what we can.
I have found a lot of these attitudes of ‘learn a new language, do some yoga, start a project’ are coming from online. While these people suggesting these things may mean well, they are also having a negative affect on our sense of self worth when we assume we have to do what they are saying.

I have a friend doing Couch to 5k and I’m proud of her for doing this, she’s quite an active person anyway and I can’t wait to see her and have a hug. I have another friend who is working from home and taking part in her Church group virtually. Again I can’t wait to see her and give her a hug.

Looking out onto the ocean at sunrise. oOn the other side of the water you can see the silhouetter of a small Chapel on a hill.
A sunrise on Porth Meor Beach.

My point here is that these people and many more of my friends are doing what they would normally, just in a different way. Maybe this is how we need to reflect on these suggestions coming from online. Perhaps don’t look at it as a ‘you must learn a new language’ but rather, what do you enjoy doing and how can you continue to do it in a new way?

I am trying to think of it like this. I am finding it helps. Otherwise I will think ‘well I have wasted these weeks’. Which I haven’t.
I have purchased a domain name for my blog.
I have used my new iPad to do drawing, which has been very beneficial to making myself feel calm and happy.
I have tried to continue with my blogging.
I have looked at ways to fundraise for the BHF.
Cleaning the house and de-cluttering.
Reading more.

These might not be big things to you. But they are to me. That’s what matters. Not the world telling me I should be doing this or I should be doing that. I am doing what makes me happy and that is what matters right now.

Last week I wrote a post about being kind to yourself. This is exactly what I’m on about. Think about the things that are being put out on the internet as suggestions, don’t think that you have to be doing the same as everyone else. We’re not the same.

As a Disabled person how am I expected to keep to a new full on time table of activities. I can’t. So I’m doing what I can. Yes I am getting tired writing this. But I am also enjoying it because it’s a way of reminding myself to take my own advice. We often fail at that. We can help our friends out but we then fail to recognise our own asking for help.

The world has changed, there will be a new normal, we will have to adapt. One of those ways of adapting is by slowing down. Slowing down and remembering what we do have, not about what’s next. We need to do this together. Otherwise we will continue with the world the way that it is. Which will cause more harm than good.

We need to slow down and stop rushing along with our day. Why? What is a the end of it? Make time in your day to enjoy things. Make time in your day do appreciate what you’ve enjoyed.

If we can do this then we can all keep up with another a bit easier. We can help each other out. We can make our world a happier place to be. To be. Being. Just be.

Be kind, do what you enjoy- within reason, stay safe.

Twitter: @PhilippaB
Instagram: @VisuallyImpairedPip

Be Kind in Uncertain Times


I have been gone for a while but now I am back. At the beginning of this lockdown period I was trying to get back into blogging, but then found I was getting fed up with social media. So I took a break. After a while I have come back onto Twitter and Instagram. But I will admit taking some time away was very much appreciated.

During the time away I have been doing some online courses on Udemy which have been great. I have also been raising money for the British Heart Foundation on JustGiving. The other thing I have done is upgraded my WordPress account. So now I have my own domain, rather than a .wordpreess one.

The course on Udemy has given me more insight into how to get the most out of WordPress. If you’re interested then course name is 2019 Blog Blueprint: How To Turn Blogging Into A Career by Daniel Boehm. While I have been blogging for a number of years I recently moved to WordPress. I just wanted to feel a bit more confident with WordPress and found this course to be the right one for myself. I am picking up some useful tips along the way.

Over the past week I have been drawing a lot and I have been really enjoying it. With the pictures I have been drawing I am hoping to raise money for The British Heart Foundation.

I was born with Congenital Heart Disease and had Open heart Surgery at a week old. The problem is I have so many problems I want to donate to all the charities which are linked to the problems I have. Then you have all the other causes you’re passionate about. But I suppose if you do one nice thing, it’s better than nothing.

As I mentioned I have purchased a domain name. My friend suggested sticking with WordPress a they can do everything for you. So this is what I did. My brother cam up with the name and I found it funny.

Since this lockdown began and I have been at home I have tried to learn new skills. I might as well because otherwise I’ll get bored. This is not to say I haven’t had days where I have sat and done nothing. It is important in these difficult times to be kind to yourself and not let yourself feel pressured. When this lockdown started there was a lot of talk around having to learn a new skill otherwise you’re wasting your time, you’re not being productive, you’re being lazy….

Well you’re not. If you’re doing what feels right for you, then that’s what matters. Lockdown is stressful. You need to be kind to yourself. If you feel like laying on the couch and watching a film, do that, if you want to do a jigsaw do that, if you fancy doing an aerobics class with friends by zoom….do it. Do what makes you happy. You need to do what you need to do. Do not feel pressured to have to learn a new language, read a book a week, go for a run…do what is right for you.

Think about what makes you happy and do it. These are uncertain times for everyone. We can’t all be expected to just get on with it. We might have once thought ‘how great would it be to just sit at home?’ Now we know. We can learn to appreciate what makes us happy more. I know one thing which makes me happy, a nice bubblebath. So I treated myself to some nice face scrub stuff. It might not seem like much, but I really enjoy that me time.

We need to accept what is happening, reach out to one another more and appreciate if someone doesn’t want to chat, that’s OK too.

I’m going now, but please do remember to be kind to yourself, don’t feel pressured to learn something new. But you could set yourself one challenge. It is important to feel a sense of achievement. I think that’s why I have started the drawing.

Be back soon,