This week I have replaced my t-shirts with a smart shirt, a hotel room for Srins sofa and EU Youth trainers with a UK government minister. Back in the UK the weather is cooler and the sun more hidden, but it is certainly no less dull. Having been abroad for over 2 months, this post will bring you up to speed on my work projects and fill you in on my next couple of weeks. Enjoy!
For anyone a little behind, I spent 2 months in Aviles, Spain for the European Voluntary Service (EVS). I will blog on my concluding thoughts on this experience soon. As I was wrapping things up in Spain I was invited to a training seminar called ‘What Next’ in Antalya, Turkey. This seemed ridiculous to arrive home and fly off again 20 hours later, but also it was an opportunity that was too good to miss. The sessions ran Monday-Friday from 9.30am to 7pm, followed by evening activities – plus our free afternoon. The training shared information and provoked discussion on EVS from the 15 delegates from the UK, Iceland, Austria and Turkey. We were either ex volunteers or from EVS organisations. I made great friends, received a lot of personal development, have new ideas on my disability projects and future partnerships to explore.
Since arriving back at 5am Sunday morning I have been staying at mums house. Being away for 2 months, plus with some new news I will explain later, I do not need my London flat at the moment. So I used Airbnb to sublet the place for a while, cover my costs on the mortgage and ensure my cashflow is ok in the early stages of my self employment. This meant I saw my family, friends and old haunts in the place I grew up. I also slogged through my inbox which had been neglected with all the travel, and pondered my work projects for the next months.
As it stands I am having more hits than ever on this blog (thank you guys!), Disability Horizons is going from strength to strength after the Guardian article, the webinars have been continued from Spain, the employment ecourse has had many registrants and I am already working on a new project for you this summer.
Overall the technology support from Misfit-Inc continues to be awesome, the content coming from you in the community is class, the reach is growing and sustainable funding is the last piece of the puzzle. Therefore raising awareness of my work and seeking funders has been a recent priority of mine. You may have noticed on twitter/facebook 3 considerable occurrences:
1) The big society network accepted me onto their social enterprise program called ‘Nexters’ before Christmas. This means that they will support me with advice, introductions to other people and raising the profile of my work. Next Monday they are hosting an event to achieve exactly these points. If you are interested in attending please click here http://aneveningwithmartynsibley.eventbrite.com/
2) The Nexters also made an introduction to the Government Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller. This is the meeting that brought me to London today. You all know I am fully aware of the campaigning work against the government, indeed I have demonstrated myself with the ‘hardest hit’ march. I mentioned my awareness of how others have not received the support I have, and this has a profoundly negative impact! However my reasons for being there were to discuss online media as a service provider of information to disabled people. The minister asked questions about my personal experiences and on my views of general government provision. She was particularly interested in ‘access to work’ and how to improve this service. I am going to get back to her soon with any ideas I have on this. It would be great to help in such an area. Whizz kidz informed that many of the people they work with hadn’t heard of this, showing the need to promote it. For me ‘access to work’ underpins my own ability to work. I’m excited to explore this and maybe other projects in the future.
3) The Nexters also informed me of UnLtd who give grants to social entrepreneurs. I applied and before Spain was approved for £4,000 towards my technology costs. I was also offered other support and requested a business mentor. This is to help me think strategically with the future, forecast the Sunnier Days’ cashflow and gain general advice from someone with experience. Straight after meeting the minister, I met Don, my new mentor 🙂 He is also a Tottenham fan, has been a CEO, worked in finance and marketing roles, has some great ideas and wants to support my work goals. We talked for over an hour in a cafe and will meet soon with more specific ideas for writing a business plan.
So tonight I am also planning the next 6 months for Disability Horizons with Srin and Liz. We have some great articles, writers and partnerships already lined up. Watch this space after tonights get together. Tomorrow I am being interviewed for Whizz-kids summer training courses, where they will be played at the sessions. Then Thursday I am taking part in their ambassador Q&A session, held online. Then its back to mums, writing the final report for my EVS, planning the next months workwise, back to London Monday for the Nexters event, and hopefully some food and sleep.
It’s very busy, sometimes stressful, sometimes hard to please everyone, but its giving me some stories for the grandkids I can tell you.
My final news is that I am off travelling again next week. After interviewing the manager at Lero in Tenerife last year on my holiday, they have contracted me in to help with their online marketing. Therefore next Thursday I will be working in Tenerife for 10 days. I will of course continue the blogging, magazine, webinars and so forth. This is the beauty of running an online enterprise – change the world and feel stronger from the sun. I don’t think this will last forever, so forgive me in making the most of an exciting few months.
If you have any questions on my travels, my work, or my disability please feel free to contact me. Thanks again for following me and supporting these world changing disability projects! Things are really shaping up with our innovative community.