Trailblazer, Raya Al-Jadir, tells us what she thinks about the new storyline on Coronation Street where Izzy, who is a wheelchair user, gets arrested.
This week in Coronation Street, Izzy played by Cherylee Houston was arrested for assaulting a police officer and on the suspicion of being in possession of drugs. This is no big deal when you live in soapland but what makes this incident of particular importance and one of my own personal favourites is the fact that when Izzy is arrested the policeman was left speechless when she asked ‘if the police car is accessible for wheelchairs?’. The policeman then radioed his colleagues to ask if the car is suitable for as he put it ‘wheelchair electric thingy’. Showing complete and utter ignorance on his part or rather lack of disability awareness training.
The same policeman arrested Izzy because he stopped her from taking her prescribed painkillers which clearly got her frustrated seeing the level of pain that she was in and as she tried to grab the bottle of pills her wheelchair went over the policeman’s foot; hardly an assault because it was not intentional and slightly provoked. Surely any policeman would look at the bottle of pills which would have the stamp/label on it and give Izzy the required dose. It is her human right.
Although I am a long term fan of Coronation Street but I always thought they were not good on tackling disability issues and quite often I feel that the disabled character in it has are more of a token gesture; just to grab the headlines or claim to be diverse. That is the reason I have never like the character of Izzy as she in my eyes she failed to get so many disability related issues onto the wider screen which could generate conversation and raise awareness. A prime example is the cobbles on Coronation Street; any wheelchair user would know how painful and uncomfortable it is to drive over cobbles yet this is never mentioned by Izzy. The same applies for her work environment, there is never a mention of adjustments being made or adaptation etc.
But when the Cannabis storyline began and Izzy started to talk about pain that she regularly experiences I thought finally, a realistic portrayal of living with disability that actually makes the general public and medical professions as well as policy/decision makers see how decisions people make behind their desks affects the daily lives of others.
Izzy’s latest storyline is not just putting forward the idea that something must be done to curb intolerable pain but advocating the need for wider disability awareness training within the police force who don’t seem to have any idea on how to deal with someone living with disability. I am not suggesting that Izzy should get special treatment but certainly a different one; where police personnel are more sensitive and aware of her basic needs.
Have you seen a particularly positive or negative portrayal in the media recently? We’d love for you to write a blog for us.