Monday, 22 January 2018

(Not Another) Blue Monday 22nd Jan - Debbi

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You may have seen my 'launch' of the (Not Another) Blue Monday part of my blog last week. If not, you can see the post here but the general idea is to highlight the people who are doing 'good' in the community, many of whom aren't usually recognised. You don't have to have a crown, or have raised thousands of pounds, just knowing you're making a positive change is all that matters.

My first post is about a lovely woman called Debbi. You might recognise her; she runs the Fox and Hounds in Prudhoe. I first met Debbi when I used to go along to the pub for an hour every few weeks to see people - It didn't last a particularly long time but I enjoyed it. When I deteriorated and found out to get a suitable wheelchair, I would need to raise a substantial amount of money, Debbi (despite not knowing me very well and not seeing me for many months) was one of the first to offer to help me.

Debbi, with the help of a team of others, organised an awards night at the pub. There was live music, a raffle, food and even engraved awards for the winners. The pub was packed and I honestly had no idea how much they raised, I only was told that if they managed to sell £100 of tickets then Dan would wear a dress (which he did!) so I thought we might get £150. I had to leave after an hour because I was poorly but I got handed a note and started crying when I saw they'd already raised over £800. By the end of the night, they had raised a massive £1,100 towards my chair, which has given me so much independence and allowed me to get outside again.

And this isn't it. The reason why I've chosen Debbi as my first Blue Monday star is because she's helped so many people and continues to support local people and organisations each year. She held an awards night in 2017 which raised £600 for Prudhoe Castle First School. The Big Fat Quiz of the year raised £80 for Pulmonary Fibrosis and an afternoon tea raised £400 for the Children's Heart Unit. A beach party in 2015 also raised £1,000 for the Children's Heart Unit. Add this to the money they've raised for Jack & Jill's Nursery before it closed and we're talking multiple thousands of pounds.

There reason I think it's so amazing isn't just because of the amount of money raised. The amount of organisation which goes into running an event takes so much time and effort, from writing countless letters for raffle prizes to cooking food, so the amount of hours which have been put in to all of these events is really applaudable. Rio, one of her sons and is only 9, has already followed in her footsteps and sold cakes for charity.

So, next time you're dropping by the Fox (and what a better reason to pop along now...) do tell Debbi she's very much appreciated for what she does. Well done Debbi for being our first featured good'un.



Kate x


Friday, 19 January 2018

(Un)Employable Me

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Over Christmas, I was watching a fantastic programme called 'Unemployable Me'. Every single episode was both heart warming and had me in floods of tears because it resonated with me so much. Disabled people are pushed out of society in general, with barriers constantly being built, then we get the blame for 'sitting on benefits' alongside a mountain of other claims.

What do we need? Support. We, as an 'ill' community can see it and quite frankly can't see why people aren't giving it to us. We need opportunities. And someone to actually believe in us.

I know it's difficult to get a job in general at the moment, but trying to become employed with a disability is about a hundred times harder. Firstly, you need to look for companies who will offer things like remote working, flexibility and small contracts (like a few hours a week). The area you can travel is drastically limited and the type of work you're able to do is also confined. 

Employers, and I am generalising (thank you to the good'uns!), find people like myself 'a bit of a headache'. Being disabled isn't just about putting a ramp out for a wheelchair. Illnesses are a lot more complex and it was shown in the programme that even saying you're disabled on a CV drastically reduces any job chances. How is that even possible.

Do you know what? It's sad. Because companies are missing out on passionate, intelligent people. Many people have gained higher qualifications and can't find work, but would be suited, and would be an asset in a job. 

My friends who are chronically ill who managed to get jobs, had to work so hard to make themselves known to get them. I'm not just talking about handing out CV's. Blogging, volunteering, running charities and then sending out emails even when jobs weren't advertised to see if anything suitable was available. Some people have a perception that all disabled people sit on their bums all day, but I've seen first hand how hard a lot of people work, and it's quite the opposite.

One friend, Pippa, actually just wrote a fantastic blog on this issue the other day here. And want to see a company which is doing it right? Check out Bear Hugs here who have just employed their first chronically ill remote worker.

Moving on, I wanted to write 5 reasons why you should employ a chronically ill/disabled person in your workplace. And not just to meet the equality act.

  1. We are truly passionate about working and making a contribution to society. 
  2. We are less likely to have sick days off (if the contract is suited to needs). All my friends who work, work incredibly hard even when they are feeling unwell. They battle through symptoms and have back up plans for if they really can't continue for the day ie work from home later on. 100% commitment.
  3. We will be an asset to any team. (As long as you give us the correct adaptations)
  4. We are as capable as anyone else. We have all learnt to adapt to our condition, know our strength/weaknesses and therefore can approach situations from a different angle if needed
  5. We have had extra life experiences which can be useful in a job. From volunteering, to generally dealing with illness (brilliant for HR!) we have all gained skills. 
I'm not saying put everyone in a job, some people are far too poorly to work but the issue here is the opportunities available. On 'Unemployable Me', all the participants were capable of doing at least part-time work but no-one would take them on and they were all fantastic people. People like myself, who are far too ill to hold down a proper job but would like in the future to work a few hours a week, just would like to see more disabled people excelling and suitable contracts becoming available.

Here's to hoping some more companies will jump on board and a massive thank you to those who support us as a community already.

Kate x



Monday, 15 January 2018

The start of (Not Another) Blue Monday

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Ever since New Year, my mind has been running away with me. The more I tried to 'rest', the more ideas seemed to be brewing inside. I find it hard to switch off, but when I have ideas, I also find it very hard not to get excited or follow them through. This, was one of my ideas and I've spent the last few weeks teaching myself how I'm going to adapt it to my energy limitations.

(Not Another) Blue Monday

Blue Monday falls on the 3rd Monday of January and is known as officially being the most 'depressing day of the year'. Well, there's not a better day than today to start my idea for my blog.

Over Christmas I spent a lot of time, like lots of others, scrolling through social media platforms. And quite frankly, I didn't like reading most of it. Facebook was plastered with comments about how the local youths are now ruining the town. And from one comment, comes a snowball of negativity. Blaming parents, blaming organisations, even blaming buildings (yep). This is just one example. I've seen negative posts on all social media platforms about a whole range of subjects. All age ranges, sexes, ethnicities, disabilities - the lot. 

I'm not a one-man-band who's going to change any of that. But using this blog, I do want to shine a light on some good people who are doing things, which often are going unrecognised, in the community. Too often we jump on a keyboard to complain (and I am guilty for this) but we should also be praising those who are making a difference. 

Monday's are usually quite 'blue' anyways; usually as it's the start of the week and you have that  typical Monday feeling. Which is why, my  posts will be up on a Monday, to brighten Monday up (hopefully!). I can't promise they will be every Monday, they may only be once a month, but I have some amazing people ready to interview who are doing incredible things.

So, if you'd like to follow the interviews which I'll be doing, click 'subscribe' or check on my website on Mondays and click (Not Another) Blue Monday. If you're doing something good in the community and would like to be interviewed, do get in touch, my details are on my 'contact me' section. I'm not looking for people who have raise thousands of pounds, or have given huge gifts. I believe that the world can be changed one small act of kindness at a time.

Kate x