The most difficult experiences can also be the most valuable… when we’re willing to learn from them

20th June 2022

In April we took the decision to postpone the first We Are All Disabled conference for the second time due to the sudden rise in Covid infections. It was one of the most challenging and stressful times that I’ve experienced since I set up We Are All Disabled.

It felt like a huge responsibility to make that decision after all the hard work and commitment of everyone involved, however it was important to address the concerns of our speakers and delegates and we take very seriously our duty of care to our community and supporters, many of whom are clinically vulnerable.

Telling people felt somewhat embarrassing; I was concerned for how it would affect WAAD as a new organisation and I also feared for my own personal reputation. In reality I need not have worried – in fact I was blown away by the level of support and understanding we received. Although it was disappointing, postponing the conference was definitely the right decision to make and the lessons learned and relationships that have come about through the work we’ve done on the conference have been invaluable.

Since then I have had some fantastic meeting with people and formed some great partnerships with other organisations. What I have learnt through the whole process is that there is definitely strength in being open and that positive things come from being honest.

We are determined to hold a We Are All Disabled conference some point – whether that be in person or online remains to be decided. For the time being we are focusing on developing a long term strategy for We Are All Disabled.

We are currently working with some key organisations in the North East on some ‘disruptor’ research for a new training programme which includes a cultural audit and intervention. The aim of the programme is to identify and challenge negative perceptions and behaviours in order to inspire real and positive change.

We are really excited about this work and the impact it will have on our aims to explore, challenge and change perceptions of disability. We are keen to get as many organisations on board as possible from a wide range of sectors. If you are interested in taking part or would like to find out more then please contact me.

We are also working on a new website for WAAD thanks to funding from Unltd. A key feature is to share people’s lived experiences of disability and if you read my previous blog you’ll know what we are looking for volunteers to share their stories. Thank you to everyone who has come forward so far. If you have a lived experience of disability that you’d like to share, either direct or indirect, then I’d love to hear from you.

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