Week 25 - Disability Resource Centre
I've never met anyone with Multiple Sclerosis before.
I know that it's an onset condition that affects your mobility, but beyond that my knowledge was pretty limited. So when I met Wendy this week I wanted to know as much about her as I could. Whilst sat with her for the morning coffee session that is held every Wednesday for people with disabilities, I really got a sense of why the DRC (Disability Resource Centre) exists.
You see the DRC (Disability Resource Centre) is a user led charity. That means that people run it all live with a disability in some form or another. Whether it be something you can see like a spinal injury, or something you cant like depression or deafness; it exists to help people in the community live, learn and develop life skills with disabilities.
"The only disability in life is a bad attitude."
And to be quite frank, I couldn't agree more. And this couldn't be truer of the DRC. Because, don't forget; these are all people, just like you and I. Having a disability is a part of their life, not their life, and not to be defined by it.
I see it more and more often, people cast quick supergenes about things they don't know.
"Oh well they can't work because they have MS."
"They couldn't be left alone because they have Asperger's."
"Well there is nothing wrong with them, it's only depression. Snap out of it."
For all of you reading this who either have a direct personal understanding or a knowledge of this type of 'prejudice' can fully appreciate why it's so important to have an organisation that not only tackles this, but builds the blocks to a better future for people living with disabilities. It really was a pleasure being part of such a wonderful and giving charity.
I got to spend most of my time with Debbie, who is the Business Development Manager at DRC. She was brought into start a new and wonderful imitative called Help at Home - a service that employs people with disabilities to go into peoples' homes to carry out a trade. Whether that be cleaning, ironing, gardening, plumbing or general house work; they have a network of qualified disabled people doing work for people living with disabilities at home. A full circle effect.
And what an incredible project it is!
I think the most important thing here is trust. When you have an individual who has a disability, it is so important to ensure that any helper going into their home is a person that can be trusted, because these individuals are vulnerable.
One of the staff members Paul was telling me about a current trend. Mate-Crime. This is where individuals befriend mainly people with learning disabilities, and take over their life - invading their home and stealing their benefits, all because they 'promise' friendship. It's because of this trend, and a real need for safe and secure home assistance, that the scheme was started.
But, like most organisations their size and niche, they rely heavily on either government funding or grants. One unfortunate drawback to this is that amazing initiatives like their coffee morning now runs on no budget, because they have not been able to secure any money for it. They scrape together whatever pennies they can to ensure that this wonderful group of 30 people can meet every Wednesday. This service is their lifeline and to some, really has been just that. But what upset me the most is that they can't even afford to buy biscuits (I even wanted to add a naughty words into the sentence too, to express my upset). So naturally I wanted to help.
Having this on my mind, Pete and I (a staff member at DRC) headed over to London for a very exciting day. Invited by last week's charity, The Diana Award, we went to Facebook's London Head Office for an anti-bullying event. I must say, it was inspired. Not only it is pretty cool to have the opportunity to visit FBHQ; but to be around such inspirational young people again was a pleasure.
During the event, Tessy Ojo, the CEO of Diana Award talked about currency. She explained that we all have currency. Some have money. Some have power. Some have influence. Some have an audience and others have contacts, and it got me thinking; what's my currency?
I've come to realise it's this - my platform and blog. This is my currency. Being able to write and get heard. So today, I'm cashing some of my currency in for the DRC.
I never want to walk into there again and not see biscuits on the side. I don't want to see a single person without a hot cup of tea and a smile on their face. So how do we do this? By helping them raise some money to keep it going. So I'm trading my social currency for your monetary currency. #LetThemEatBiscuits
So if every person who reads this blog could donate just £1, we will hit the target in no time at all!
I left this morning on a high. I went to attend an educational session for individuals who want to get into the workplace. So the charity puts on funded sessions to give them the knowledge and skills to get back into work. Firstly this takes the strain off the government for benefits but also, more importantly, gives them a sense of purpose.
So I leave you with this. Before you cast any type of judgement on somebody with a disability, hold up a mirror. Because they are just like you, the same; but different.