My journey in disability started with a phone call to a BBC radio station. It was about a death of someone with a learning disability. An investigation found that Cornwall had failed to protect the vulnerable individual properly. At the time it was rare for disability to speak openly and in the public arena. Now thankfully it is very different and learning disability has managed to have a presence in the arts (Sarah Gordy and George Webster) and is making the news. Heidi Crowter’s attempt to change the abortion laws in the uk. Yes, it has come a long way and l hope everyone sees learning disability much more positively since the on-air conversation with Martin. Theatre Companies like the brilliant Frozen Light are making the magical stage more accessible to learning disability. It has been a deep honour and humbling to see the difference their productions make.
Breaking new ground, Heidi’s court case, funky liama club night and images for Our Space Production’ War Torn.
But there are the same old questions over the future. One of the reasons why learning disability is facing a losing battle in Cornwall is housing, basically it is not there. It means having to compete with other vulnerable groups for non-existing accommodation. Employment is still very low, lower than Autism and is barely double figures. Again, perhaps if lived experience of work and the barriers were properly discussed more permanent solutions could be found (like the Ivybridge Brewing Company in Devon which provides work opportunities to the learning disability community)? it is only now in my 40’s that I have managed to restart my private pension because l have managed to stay in work for a considerable time. My brain goes completely dead at the prospect of cv’s and application forms. How many employers provide easy read application forms for example? The hidden and unseen prejudice is still there and from the time of having to fend for myself it can be cruel and hostile (and immensely hurtful) and can push people into more potential harm. If we are going to have an inclusive future, then these attitudes must be challenged. For a country that is seen as upholding human rights we can treat those with intellectual disabilities terribly. Humanity demands life to be respected better.
Life in Cornwall without a car, sometimes you must travel on all three modes of transport get around. A simple 30-minute car journey can easily take either double or three times longer by public transport.
Very soon Cornwall’s first rocket launch will light up the Cornish skyline. Launcher One will detach from Cosmic Girl (a modified Boeing) and go into earth orbit before sending the satellite on its way. The Space industry could be Cornwall’s best hope in escaping its low wage economy. Everyone needs to benefit from it, including learning disability. Everyone is human and people with learning disabilities can tell their own stories. They have their own brilliant voices, and we have a human duty to listen to them. So, it is to the wonderful learning disability community the last word must go to. Thank you for the experiences you gave me and when you do follow Aldrin’s footsteps make sure you take a selfie and share it for all the galaxy to see. It is amazing a single phone call can set in motion.
How will learning disability participate in the digital economy and how will those on low incomes get to work in the net zero age when everyone else is having their morning flakes?
Written by Chris Burns.