Welcome to a new chapter of my life! It is hardly a shocker to hear as I have been banging on about this for a few weeks. However, today is officially Independence Day! The 4th of July 2011 is the day I begin working full time on changing the world for disabled people and their families. It is also the day I begin life without a regular salary. Let me just talk you through how I am feeling, my plans for this new era and how I need you guys to work with me.
My last day at Scope felt quite emotional. Whilst the decision is right for me now, 5 years is a long time to have a routine, meet amazing people and be part of a great organisation. My manager did a lovely speech, I awkwardly managed a few words, I had a card signed by everyone, some cool presents (concert vouchers, kindle voucher, Alan Sugars book, road tripping USA guide and a globe), and then we ate cake. Straight afterwards I had a meeting for the magazine www.disabilityhorizons.com (more on this great progress another time), attended Arcade Fire in concert Thursday (video coming soon) and my leaving drinks were Friday.
All in all it was a tiring, nostalgic, nice and weary week. Now I am getting my mind over the sad elements, and focused on the future. This future is to work full time on new media projects to shake things up positively for disabled people!
My plans work in 2 areas:
- to empower disabled people (especially the younger generation) to be more aspirational, and with the right information to achieve their goals.
- meanwhile, I want to show society that disabled people can and do achieve if we all assist in removing the many everyday barriers in the way.
Online conversations – I will spend more time online engaging and understanding disability issues. By learning from disabled people around the world what their hopes/dreams are and the reasons they may not pursue them, I will create solutions to overcome this. Furthermore with my co-editor Srin we plan to achieve online learning and support through www.disabilityhorizons.com by allowing others to write and share their own experiences too.
The following explanation of my new website pages will assist you in seeing this more clearly.
Blog – where I will continue to share my life experiences and pass on useful information.
About – for a new visitor to understand me, my life, why I want to support other disabled people, my media work and my ‘SunnierDays’ projects.
Philosophy – in every article, video, seminar and project I have a philosophy underpinning it. The 3 parts are to understand your limits, know your goals and the barriers stopping you reaching them, and then grabbing life!
The tribe – I am not wanting, aiming or able to improve life for disabled people alone. It takes lots of individuals to better themselves, to support each other, demand positive change and collectively work towards an improved world for all. Subscribe to the blog and join the tribe, its going to be a cool journey
Online learning – to read about and sign up for the latest Apps, seminars and future projects please head here.
Give me a shout – to feedback your thoughts, ideas and questions click here. In a multimedia world there are a few channels to contact me on. I can also be booked here for speaking engagements.
The second part of my plans are with ‘SunnierDays’, which is my social enterprise.
Aim one is to pay the mortgage and eat some food next month. However I hope SunnierDays can work with society to remove the barriers blocking some disabled people from living the dream.
To begin with I am packaging up my professional and personal experiences into a series of seminars. With one hour on a range of relevant topics, the seminars are delivered online and free to you (backed by companies, charities or Local Authorities). They are accessible in so many ways (with no need for transport, zero expenditure and beamed into your home). Then, using real life examples and useful tips around education, employment, travel and independent living, the attendee leaves with specified learning outcomes.
Having honed certain skills to find innovative solutions for disabled people through new media, I am keen to share this knowledge. I will achieve this by working with:
- Organisations setup for disabled people – I will work for a specific period of time to understand an organisation and their service users’ vision, aims and challenges. I will then recommend new media projects that can make a bigger impact for their service users. From growing memberships, increasing the number of ‘active’ service users, creating an online community and upskilling staff, I will leave the organisation with inspiring and useful changes.
- Everyday organisations – whether in leisure, travel, entertainment and so forth, every business has a disabled customer base. Partnership work will find solutions for a better customer experience with improved customer services. An example would be the use of an i-pad to show a disabled customer a video tour of an area in a museum they cannot otherwise access.
Beyond my new found profession, I have a few personal goals to share on Independence Day. These include:
- Finding a good work routine – to work sensible hours and find some cool cafes with wireless internet
- Networking – I hope to meet other workshifters (remote workers) in London and when travelling
- Productive working – even with an additional 35 hours in my life now, working for myself will never be a 9-5. However I hope to get my energy levels up and more quality time back with friends
- Exercise – now I have flexible working hours I plan to do more physio, regular swimming and other beneficial exercise
- Campaigns – beginning with twit polls, we are going to tackle the big issues that bother you. To get your creative juices flowing, how about one day where we take photos of inaccessible locations, hashtag the twitpics and collate a website of the shots? We could call it #nochairsgo?
- Travel – you all know my love for travel! Once the business is running, I hope to travel, work from my laptop and meet interesting people. I would love to interview disabled people around the world for my blog or a tv documentary. To show my difficulties in accessing South America, Asia and Africa, set against the lack of everyday provision for disabled people who live there would be amazingly insightful.
Watch this space guys! I hope you feel energised and ready to change the world! I am off to blog for the Institute of Fundraising National Convention. What a cool start to a new chapter…