Campaigning can be very empowering and has the potential to achieve amazing things. I think there is no better feeling than the sense of achievement you feel when a campaign has been successful. After all, campaigning can often be exhausting, frustrating and time consuming. However, knowing that you’ve helped create a change that will hopefully have a lasting positive impact on many people’s lives is a great feeling.
I’m also a firm believer of every problem has a solution. These solutions are often not straightforward or obvious. Campaigning often requires intuitive thinking as well as a willingness to change the Status Quo. In my view this is why campaigners are often feared by decision makers. We are taught from a young age that there are very rigid ways of dealing with certain issues. This mindset can very damaging because being open to change is critical to making the world a better and fairer society. I think this is certainly the case for many of the issues disabled people face and feel the need to campaign about. The challenge of finding practical solutions to problems is something I really enjoy. I imagine many Trailblazers are also motivated by this.
Campaigners are often but not always, directly impacted by many of the issues they campaign about. They are essentially experts on the issue/ problem. Taking Trailblazers as an example, all of us have a disability of some kind and we’ve all been impacted by many of the social injustices disabled people face. We often have to deal with these injustices and try to compensate for them as best we can on a daily basis. This real life experience of dealing with obstacles/ injustices makes Trailblazers uniquely equipped to find practical solutions to everyday problems, be it access to Public Transport or Healthcare. After all, if you want to learn more about a certain problem, you need to engage with the people affected by it to gain a detailed and holistic insight of the issue. Personally, I feel my real life experiences and those of other disabled people are of immense value to decision makers, such as Politician’s, Architects and others, who shape our world. Equally, I find the process of using my own personal challenges to bring about change to be a very empowering and cathartic experience.
‘Trailblazers’ has recently marked its 10th Anniversary. In order to mark this key milestone, I thought I’d summarize some of the amazing achievements achieved as a consequence of the dedication, hard work, knowledge and perseverance of Trailblazers over the past decade. I hope this will inspire you to continue to campaign against social injustices faced by disabled people. Who knows, perhaps it may even encourage new blood to the trailblazers.
Trailblazers Lobbied Twitter to update its rules to protect disabled people from hate speech on the popular social media platform. Twitter listened- implementing a number of recommendations put forward by Trailblazers. This was a monumental achievement. Encouraging the social media giant to make adjustments to the way it operates is not an easy feat. However, it serves as proof that if enough people dedicate themselves to a particular cause anything is possible.
Another key success was the collaboration with Microsoft in order to create an adaptive controller, ensuring that gaming is accessible to all.
Trailblazers were also influential in helping to secure priority seating for wheelchair users on buses.
These examples highlight that no organization or problem regardless of its size is beyond the reach or influence of Trailblazers.
Trailblazers have a number of hugely important campaigns. These include Improving Women’s Access to Healthcare- with a particular emphasis on access to Cervical Smear tests. This is a campaign that has the potential to save lives… yes… save lives!
Our ongoing Changing Places campaign is calling for more accessible changing rooms throughout the UK. We are making great progress with many public places showing a keen interest in installing accessible changing rooms. This will enable more people to enjoy what their community has to offer. After all, the thought of having to change on the floor of a public toilet is enough to deter anybody from going to public places. We believe that on completion of this campaign more people will be able to enjoy the services that there communities have to offer with comfort and dignity.
In addition, Trailblazers have commissioned a report addressing many of the barriers preventing disabled people from accessing and staying in the workplace. This report will be put before Politicians and Employers. We believe that if they recommendations within the report are implemented/acted upon we can help more disabled people find and stay in employment.
Let’s continue to work together to remove social barriers experienced by disabled people. We’ve achieved so much and we’re only just getting started. Join Trailblazers today if you haven’t done so already and shape your own destiny and that of future generations.
So here’s to the next 10 years!
Trailblazers has now moved to pan-disability charity Whizz-Kidz (September 2020).