My name is Helen. I was born with Cerebral Palsy, and cannot walk or stand, unaided.
I have been a disability rights campaigner, (at various levels), for nearly 26 years.
This particular little project, started with my tweet, of defiance, -
'I am disabled and proud. I am not a faceless scrounger! I will not let this government, define me!'
It did very well, as it was, which I really didn't expect. Once that happened, I wondered if attaching a picture of myself, to the bottom of the tweet, would show that we are people, and not just nameless 'scroungers' - without an identity, and without thoughts and feelings.
In my opinion, this government has been very effective, in taking away the identities of disabled, ill, and poor people. It feels like they have dehumanised, and vilified us. By doing this, I think they have made it OK for people to hate us, and be suspicious of us.
By telling society, and the media, that we are scrounging, from a financially struggling country, that we are committing benefit fraud, (and lying in bed all day, with the curtains closed),while the 'striving', 'hard-working', 'aspiring' people, pay for us to do so, they can justify, the devastating, life destroying, cuts to vital social security.
I wanted to remind people, that us so called 'scroungers' are actually people! We have lives, feelings, and faces! We didn't choose this!
Once I attached a picture of me, to the bottom of my original tweet, it took off like a rocket! A hundred retweets, five hundred retweets! I think it stopped, at nearly two thousand. It might not seem like a lot, given how much, (and how quickly) things get shared on the internet, but it was a lot, to me.
It was my little way, of taking some power, back. Not just for myself, but for all of us, who feel that we have lost so much of ourselves, our independence, and our dignity, at the hands of this government.
A week or so later, a friend had the idea, of combining the photo of me, (which was taken, at Wells Cathedral, in May, of 2009, by my Mum), and the tweet, making it what you see, above.
I wouldn't have thought of doing something like that, and even if I had, I wouldn't have really known how to go about doing it, - so, thank you Martin!
I sent it out again, as the one image, with a message, asking people to retweet, to help me get the message across. The message being, that disabled and ill people, are not scroungers, and that we do have identities, even if, they try and take them (and so much more), from us!
I'm still sharing the combined image, every couple of days, or so, with blog details, should anyone want to know more, about why I, (we), need to do this.
I attached my #helenswriting hashtag, simply so that I could see if it was working, and correct anything, I might need to.
At first, I wasn't very confident about doing it, and was worried, that people would get, 'sick of my face!' I was also worried, that it might leave me open, to abuse, but happily, none of that has happened.
All the comments I've had, have been supportive, and encouraging. They have meant so much to me, and have proved that, even though it sometimes feels, that society has lost its compassion, and understanding for us, there are so many people out there, that still care, and (at the moment especially) that means more, to disabled, ill, and poor people, than we can ever tell you, but I'd really love to keep it going a little longer.
Please share/RT this, if you can.
Thank you, so much!