View More

Another big week at Purple Goat Agency!

I’ve continued my weekday livestreams, interviewing leaders in the disability world. I’ve also continued my daily Disabled Founders Journal podcast, alongside some of the livestream interviews on my channel here https://open.spotify.com/show/5or9a7baTKyL7NZDv37qET?si=sRgRDBCDTxCsjZFOUhOkTw.

Three of my favourite Daily Sib interviews include:

1) Elizabeth Ransome-Croker and I discussing the founding story of Disability Horizons, how she became editor soon after the launch, what content matters to disabled people, and how we’ve grown and funded this successful disability community

2) Neil Crowther shares his experience and thoughts from the frontline of policy and campaigns for disability rights. Spanning from jobs in care, to the EHRC and now reforming social care policy

3) Too few people know, let alone act, that the 1.3bn disabled people in the world means a marketplace of talent and consumers for businesses. Caroline Casey and Marianne Waite are here to right that wrong with the Valuable 500 campaign!

Purple Goat is also making great progress with our client campaigns. We’ve also pitched half a dozen proposals to new and exciting brands. Plus I had a couple of conversations with BIG brands last week. More to come soon!

View More

Back in January 2011 I was asked to appear on BBC1’s breakfast show. Held in the London studio, I grabbed a cab, discussed train travel and then went to scope for the day job. A great experience and warm up act.

Last week I was invited to the new BBC breakfast studios in Manchester, put up in a swanky hotel and most importantly able to discuss 2 important things to me:

1) the attitudes of the public towards disabled people. The day we get the masses on board to the real issues faced, the quicker social change will occur.

2) disability horizons. This is mine and Srins baby. After a short 18 months it’s reached thousands of people. This moment validated us and enabled us to reach out to 8m viewers.

Here is the video of my interview. Enjoy!

View More

This is a message sent out today to 3500 people. Please use any of the below and help share the love 🙂

We are the duo of Martyn Sibley and Srin Madipalli: Wheelchair users, lads about town and editors of Disability Horizons.

Both of us have poured our ideas, imagination, energy, commitment and love into www.disabilityhorizons.com the past 15 months. The feedback, growth and utility shows we have created a much loved publication.

Now we need your to help share this love!

We currently reach 20,000 people, but know there are many more disabled people, family members, friends and professionals who can benefit from Disability Horizons.

Please please please can you use the below draft article in any websites, blogs and newsletters at your disposal? Feel free to tweak as appropriate.

Also if you can email friends, tweet or facebook about the magazine we would be so grateful.

With a larger community of people; we can share, learn and progress life for disabled people much faster.

Many thanks for your support and stay in touch with your own ideas for Disability Horizons,

Martyn and Srin

Email: disabilityhorizons@gmail.com
Twitter: @Dhorizons
Facebook: facebook/disabilityhorizons

The Article

If you love socialising, travel or adventure; then this is definitely for you!

In November 2010, two disabled guys from London, on a roadtrip in California, dreamt up a huge project they wanted to bring to the world. Imagine two lifelong friends, two electric wheelchairs, two Personal Care Assistants, a hoist and an accessible car stirring up a big cocktail of imagination and innovation, during a dream adventure.

This idea was to start an online disability lifestyle magazine like no other…

After months of working hard to turn the vision into a reality; Martyn Sibley and Srin Madipalli launched www.disabilityhorizons.com. Disability Horizons pioneers an innovative 21st century approach to disability by empowering an aspirational community to provide and share content that informs, inspires and entertains.

The Disability Horizons community is already 20,000 strong mostly through its social media channels, their readers write the articles, share their wealth of disability knowledge and progress towards their individual dreams together. Articles include personal stories on employment, sport, travel and relationships. The guys share many of their own daring escapades and have regular article contributions from high profile organisations, service providers, politicians, celebrities, entrepreneurs and various opinion formers that have the power to shape and change lives.

There is a page for readers to pose their own questions, an area to post unwanted disability items (the classifieds section), a resources profile page for disability companies to share useful products/services, and the Disability Horizons ‘Travel Zone’.

If you want to become part of this unique, vibrant and useful magazine; get in touch straight away!

Email: disabilityhorizons@gmail.com
Twitter: @Dhorizons
Facebook: facebook/disabilityhorizons

View More

This post is a mixture of latest news and latest reflections. In life there are times we plan, times we do, and times we evaluate. I have managed all 3 of these ten times over in the past weeks! Whoever you are, I hope after reading this you will be entertained, question how much is possible in life, understand me a bit more, understand disability a little bit more, and have some tools to make a change for yourself or for disability issues (however small).

Everyday I go through a checklist in my head: Family members, best friends, my wheelchair, my car, my flat, my PAs, my work, my leisure time, my adventure plans and my health. In contemplating all of these for a few minutes a day; I ensure I touch base with my loved ones, maintain all of my vital support functions, make sure I am still challenging myself, having fun and living by my ideal life values.

Having caught up with loved ones in June, I have also been securing the funding (via the NHS voucher scheme and Access to Work scheme) for a new wheelchair. This has involved paperwork, assessments, selecting the chair, being fitted for it and various other procedural tasks. I am to receive my new Storm wheelchair on Thursday! I then need to have a clamp fixed on the new chair so that I can drive my car from it. Having secured financial assistance for this work too, I am spending Friday in the lovely company of Andy Kent from Andy’s Kars. My car also had its MOT and service yesterday. So, that ensures my mobility is sorted for a while longer, and in style.

After a few months out of my London flat whilst travelling, I have also enjoyed being back home again. I was glad to see the place in good condition! Having organised my PAs and their rota until September; I asked them to help me have a spring clean. Now I feel at home, with my flat in order and fully supported to live independently in the capital once again. Since my arrival I have met up with many old faces, visited my favourite parts of London and really appreciated how grateful you are for something after missing it. Don’t get me wrong, my time away was well spent, but its always great to return back to your comfort zone sometimes!

With loved ones seen and support mechanisms in order (as well as some good social times too) here’s the work part! The thing is, having spent one year working for myself; work, leisure, travel and adventure are very inter woven. This has happened on purpose and I am so proud to see the vision, hard work and determination start to come together. Things are still tough with many tasks to do, only one me, and a mortgage to pay. However I am relishing the challenge and riding the danger as best as I can.

With 3 years of blogging, a year of running Disability Horizons with Srin, individually progressing the disability webinars, ecourses and the imminent econference; there has been lots to plan, do and evaluate. Having had difficulty getting my elearning products fully funded, I am going to continue running them voluntarily, but have found a different model to stay afloat financially. With lived experience of being disabled, vast social media and new media knowledge and a vast network of disabled people online, contacts in councils, charities and disability companies; I am beginning to work in partnerships with these great people. With the same vision of supporting disabled people, but different roles; I am excited about how this is all going to come together!

Therefore I have been talking to Scope, Leonard Cheshire, Disability Rights UK, The JTSMA and Muscular Dystrophy Campaign about webinar collaborations. I ran a workshop for HertsPASS around careers, and spoke to students at my old school Impington Village College. I met the CEO of Choice Support and discussed some partnership work. I am being introduced to Lonely Planet and some banks about elearning projects. I am planning how to support Lero in Tenerife as their online marketing person in the UK for the next 12 months. I met with Louise from Fittleworth and floated some ideas of how they can promote their services to more disabled people like myself. Srin and I went to the House of Lords for the Employers Forum on Disability reception. Media wise I have also represented radio 4 ‘ You and Yours’ on an open day at Gatwick Airport, before being interviewed live on the show. I was subsequently asked some air travel questions on ‘Reduced Mobility’. Then today I was interviewed by the awesome Shirley Ayers on her fortnightly podcast ‘Disruptive Social Care’ (out on Friday).

Beyond ‘work’ and weekly leisure I have been plotting my biggest challenge yet. Please take a look at the video. The update is that I am close to securing the caravan, this may delay the start date and essentially I think I have pulled it off! Initial feedback was asking if I was crazy, whether I could plan it so quickly, how the logistics would work and so forth. I will refrain from anything too bold, but even if this falls short it does show the value of dreaming big. I know this will happen one day, and its probably going to happen this September.

To summarise my life and how it is shaping up in July 2012, I am:

  • A blogger
  • Disability advocate and spokesperson
  • Entrepreneur
  • Magazine Editor
  • Social drinker
  • Social media expert
  • New media and elearning consultant
  • Travel writer
  • Bad karaoke singer
  • Family and friend
  • Logistics expert (maintaining support functions)
  • Crazy idiot

I realise with reflection that my vision, beliefs and passion are not traditional. I will always question the status quo and in Shirleys words be a disruptor. I therefore run my work projects to disrupt and change the world around disability. However I run my life generally as though its my last. I am not asking or even suggesting you replicate this. I just ask you to live life the right way for you. If you’re disabled believe in your dreams, and if you’re not disabled please support people like myself in being included. Most of all please share this post with anyone who will appreciate it!

Thanks for your support. I now have 2000 followers on Twitter, more blog hits than ever and real motion of progress. With the right vision, collaboration and disruption I truly believe disability won’t be a ‘thing’ in years to come!

Twitter – @martynsibley
Website – www.martynsibley.com
Online magazine – www.disabilityhorizons.com
Skype Name – sibbers1314
Mobile – 07824 535720
Email – martyn@martynsibley.com

View More


Sponsorship proposals available on request

Generic Press Release

On September 4th 2012 Martyn Sibley is undertaking his toughest challenge yet. He plans to travel across Europe with his adapted hand-controlled car, accessible caravan and his Personal Care Assistants.

Martyn is 28 and has Spinal Muscular Atrophy meaning he relies on an electric wheelchair, 24/7 care and other support functions. Alongside his work with other disabled people, he has travelled a great deal and completed various adventurous activities.

This latest venture takes him to France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, Poland and reaches Lithuania, where his grandfather came from. Then it’s back through Poland, Germany, Holland and Belgium, before home.

Martyn will share this with his 20,000 strong online community through articles, pictures and videos on his blog, his magazine Disability Horizons and twitter feed. He will discuss the personal challenges, the wheelchair access/barriers, people’s differing attitudes to disability and video interview other disabled people and charities. Alongside this there will be press coverage and fundraising for beneficiaries in each country.

Sibley says his aims are:

– to showcase individual achievement in tough situations
– to paint a true picture of disability (the rough and the smooth)
– to highlight the differences across Europe of having a disability
– to educate society on this subject matter and promote social inclusion for all

To make this project a success the following is needed:

-Accessible caravan
-Finances for fuel, caravan parks and other route costs
– media and PR support
– introductions to people and organisations in the visited countries

Sibley simply states: “I’m just an individual sharing a personal challenge and experience. My hope is that it can be a catalyst for change in many ways. Younger disabled people can see what is possible, society will see disability in a cool light and it will be a lot of fun. The awareness and money raised will provide a platform for others to progress this social cause”.

ENDS

Additional info:

Martyn Sibley is a blogger, social entrepreneur and disability advocate.

Since starting his blog (martynsibley.com) in July 2009 he has built up a large online presence with disabled people using social media.

He left his job as a fundraiser at the disability charity Scope and since launched online magazine www.disabilityhorizons.com, disability webinars, disability econference and disability ecourses.

Alongside this he has partnered with charities, councils and companies in the disability field around technology strategies.

With a mantra of ‘inspire, inform and change’; Martyn shares his journey, his passion and his vision.

View More

Where to start! The past weeks have been mind blowing. I have clocked up a bit of travel, mainly visiting Spain for my EVS planning visit, and had so many things to get in order before March. If you haven’t caught up on my 2 months ahead in Spain you can read about it here and watch my amusing video here.

The planning visit went well. I have an accessible room in the same living area as my co-volunteers. I have an electric bed, hoist and a shower chair there too. Filipe and Beata, my PA’s, will support me on my placement. The organisation I’m volunteering for are so cool and made me feel so welcome, as did the other people I met generally. I will be learning Spanish (of course), teaching English, working on some marketing projects, speaking about disability to local organisations and doing a couple of radio shows. Other projects and tasks will evolve as I go.

I leave this Sunday!

Apart from the magnitude of this project, I have been running my other projects and indeed everyday life.

I spoke at a local Cambridge business networking event and in Hackney on Personal Budgets. Disability Horizons are being featured in the Guardian with an interview of Srin and myself. I ran a great webinar last week on the topic of disability and relationships, with guest speakers Kirsty Liddiard and Mel Halacre. You can watch the video here and sign up for ‘travel’ on Wednesday 28th March (live from Spain) on this link. Full details of my webinar series are here too http://martynsibley.com/webinars.  I have also interviewed 13 people on the subject of disability and employment for a new ecourse. You can sign-up for free, receive weekly email guides from myself and use other web resources. ‘Inspiring Employment’ will be launched in the next week 🙂

Beyond work I have overcome the challenges of broken wheelchairs and cars, at last. That was a hard and testing time. I found out yesterday my flat will be rented while I am away, which is a huge deal for me. My family and friends are generally well, although my step-granddad is in hospital at the moment. I saw Claire in York at the weekend, which was amazing as always. However with distances and so forth we are cooling things off. I hope life and fate will be kind to us, but whatever happens I know I am richer having her in my life in any capacity.

So, I am heading off now to a meeting about sponsorship. On that note: if you have any ideas on how I can get Horizons, the webinars and ecourses sponsored/funded please get in touch through twitter or my website!

Afterwards I am driving to Leeds, staying overnight, attending a ‘pre-departure training’ session for Spain and then back tomorrow evening. Thursday I have lunch and dinner with friends, with the Guardian interview in the afternoon. Friday is back to mums, before S-day on Sunday.

Watch out Aviles, Asturias; I am coming soon!

View More

Whenever I am writing a blog post or a Disability Horizons article I contemplate which topic it will end up covering. The truth is each of them will span multiple aspects of life. In this piece I want to explain the work I have been doing on webinars. More specifically I want to explain what they are, how they are becoming a useful tool for disabled people, and how they enable me to live a healthier lifestyle.

I first came across a webinar when my friends AJ and Melissa from Misfit Inc mentioned them. The concept is that you use the format of a seminar (speakers, presentations and audience participation) but over the internet. So I attended one of Misfit Inc’s webinars held for the Institute of Fundraising in the UK. After asking nicely, they agreed to train me up on how to use the webinar software, use social media to market them, display PowerPoint slides, record the whole session, add audience polls and a question and answer sessions.

My brain began buzzing. It was absolutely perfect for disseminating information around disability. I already knew the demand for inspiring, helpful and practical content from blogging. So I decided to run a series of 5 sessions around disability:

  • The early years, aimed more for parents
  • The teen years, for parents and disabled teenagers
  • Independent Living Part 1 (housing, employment and equipment)
  • Independent Living Part 2 (social care packages)
  • Leisure and Travel

Between August and November 2011 I ran this series 3 times; once for my personal blog audience, once after being commissioned by disability charity Scope, and a third time for the London Borough of Hackney Council. I had 100 attendees overall and I received great feedback on my evaluation questionnaire from users and also from the organisations involved.

Despite the success of these, I am ever the perfectionist. So I set about how to improve the content, marketing and impact. I knew the content could be improved by moving away from my personal story, bringing in other people to share personal or professional experiences, and by making the experience more interactive. I knew I could improve the marketing by sharing the success of the first webinars, by explaining how simple the technology is and just from being more confident in this medium of support for disabled people. Finally the impact of this project is clear to see. If enough people sign up I have no expenses (no travel and free attendance) and gain new knowledge to improve issues around being disabled, I’d say that the project is therefore defined as awesome!

I have since planned out 6 months of webinars. They cover more specific topics such as volunteering, relationships, travel, social care, housing and so forth. You can see the dates and how to sign up on www.martynsibley.com/webinars.

The first session on volunteering had 3 guest speakers. We had a couple of technical glitches relating to the speakers’ internet speeds, but I have already found a solution if this happens again. In the video below you can see how much helpful information was disseminated to the 20 people who enjoyed the live session. You can also hear the momentary panic I had with the glitches, but how I overcame this as best as possible.

February’s webinar is on the topic of relationships; a topic many disabled people find difficult because of its taboo nature. I have great pleasure in chairing this session with guest speakers Kirsty Liddiard (who studied a PhD at Warwick university on this topic area and is presenting her findings), and Melanie Halacre (a relationship councillor specialising in disability). You can register and attend for free on my website.

Having shared a massive part of my recent work (I say work, but it is so enjoyable it doesn’t quite fit), I want to explain how this enables my ideal work-life balance. When I was employed, working in an office, expected to go in Monday – Friday, 9 – 5, I had some difficult times, especially in the winter. With my disability, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, I have no pain or fatigue, I just cannot move much at all. With my care, wheelchair, equipment and so forth I live an active life. However if I get a cold and it goes on my chest, it is rather concerning. I cannot cough much and so pneumonia becomes a likely outcome. With rest, antibiotics and warmth I fair better. Therefore you can see why self-employment, staying warm, managing my own workload and even working in hotter climates has an appeal.

With my business established, new webinars being rolled out (eventually with sponsorship to make them sustainable and free for attendees), my new e-course being launched soon and some partnership project work, I am getting where I want to be. Having a tool such as a webinar doesn’t just benefit disabled attendees, it benefits a disabled person organising, chairing and running them, i.e. me.

View More

You have seen the pre New York article, you attended the live webinar, you have seen the video and now its time to read the real deal. As much as I am proud of my life’s achievements; I only choose to share so many of them for a bigger reason – YOU. Sure, my family and friends would enjoy hearing about my travels, but I write this type of article to inspire, inform and change the world for disability! This article outlines the things we did, whilst part 2 from Srin http://disabilityhorizons.com/new-york-new-york-part-2 explains more of the practicalities of disability travel.

On Monday 26th September 2011 Srin, Bjorn, Toby, Kurtly, Lena and I set off for New York. A diverse bunch; we spanned disability, gender, religions and countries. Many of us had also not met each other before (namely the 3 PAs). I believe New York provides the perfect platform for changing mindsets and attitudes. I had visited in 1993 when the Twin Towers suffered a failed terrorist attack and I vaguely remember the snowy March views. Now aged 28 and having done a fair bit of travel, as mentioned before, it was time to go and do NYC properly. They say if you can make it there you can make it anywhere. I know Sinatra didn’t mean pop in for a week and go, or aimed this at disabled people, but it is very apt. There is something very satisfying and fulfilling about seeing NYC in ones life. It says to the world “I like a bloody good time and live a great life”.

With the usual sore bum after a long flight in my transit seat, we arrived to the hotel safely. Srin will outline the planning, prep and potential problems of the journey in another article later this week. Our hotel was situated between Times Square and Central Park, right in the thick of the action. On the Tuesday we took the coolest boat trip ever out past the Statue of Liberty, looking back at Manhattan and under the 3 bridges of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg.

Srin being the adrenaline junkie that he is loved the adrenaline rush but I was a little more concerned of being tossed overboard! Fortunately, this did not happen, and we safely lived to tell this tale!

After the boat trip we cruised for ages around Lower Manhattan taking in a street performing snake, Wall Street, Ground Zero (very sad) and China Town. The pavements were generally very wheelchair accessible and thanks to Natasha Woods help we had an access guide for the Metro stations.

Other activities were visits to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the great views across NYC from the top of the Empire State Building, shopping in Times Square, coffee by Brooklyn Bridge and wandering through Central Park. I overcame my fear of Mickey Mouse from the age of 4 in Disney World when I thought he was going to eat me (see pic). We met some really cool people generally such as Willy, the homeless poet of Central Park and a 50 cent look-a-like who I almost got in a fight with. Damn me and vodka!

Putting to bed my fears of mickey mouse

The evenings consisted of searching for affordable restaurants and hanging with the guys. Most of the restaurants and bars were generally accessible. My favourite meal was either the massive Panini one lunchtime or more so the Cuban food at Victors cafe in Midtown. I am sure I have seen Victor on one of Gordon Ramseys programmes. One night Toby and I were quite tipsy on Sambucca and were racing through the ‘mean streets of New Yoik’ with Kurtly and Lena on the back of our wheelchairs. Oh how I love the looks of strangers!It was such a good trip. Even delivering the webinar for work turned out amazingly well with Srin and Toby co-presenting with me from the hotel room. The breakdown of the hoist didn’t even manage to taint the experience and we fixed this issue in no time. New York is basically London on steroids! The views, the sounds, the smells, the food, the drink and the vibe is like no other place on earth – a truly sense stimulating experience! I would absolutely recommend a trip here to anyone 🙂

One of the things I have learnt from you guys is that not everyone can or wants to do things such as travel. However, seeing things that seem impossible changes mindsets, raises the bar and gets you to ask the question: do I not want to do something bigger/better or do I think I cannot? I hope you realise it is always the latter and start a journey of your own. It might not be NYC, but it will be your own aspirational dream. So get planning, get preparing and get out there and do it. Srin, myself and the Horizons community are here to support you all the way.