What UK Disability History Month means to me.
Anna, our Locality and Community Engagement Coordinator shares what UK Disability History Month means to her.
To me, UK Disability History Month is special, because it places a spotlight on disabled people that live and thrive in both their professional and personal lives despite how their disability might affect them. It’s a month where the creativity and achievements of people with disabilities are celebrated. It is also a unique time where we can challenge ableism and help achieve even greater equality.
I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is a complex type of disability. The reason why I have it is because my immune system is not working properly. It’s a condition that affects my spine and brain. With MS, your immune system, which would normally help to fight off infections, mistakes myelin for a foreign body and attacks it. This damages the myelin and strips it from the nerve fibres, either slightly or completely, leaving scars known as lesions. This type of damage disrupts the messages that travel along nerve fibres.
The specific symptoms that appear depend on which part of your central nervous system has been affected, and the job of the damaged nerve.
Symptoms could vary and they are different for everyone. They could be issues related to your vision, balance, emotions, memory or thinking.
When I joined St Mungo’s I also joined their Disability Action Network. I am keen to raise awareness on non-visible disabilities. Visibly, if you bump into me at our service or on the street, you will not realize that I am disabled. People associate disability with visible elements, such as a wheelchair, a missing limb, a walking stick, or a white cane, but not only people with visible disabilities are disabled. There is so much more than that to being disabled.
St Mungo’s has been great in supporting me with my disability. I have felt empowered and included during my time with the organisation. I think in order to support diversity and inclusion at work, we must always look out for our unconscious biases and make sure that the organisation and its staff make it easy for all employees to participate in all activities. We need to always make sure that policies are frequently revised and improved to make sure that every employee and client is appreciated and represented in all of them.
This might sound a cliché but I love everything about my job. I live close to where I work so I enjoy combining my love for the local community with my dedication to St Mungo’s values and ethos.
The purpose of my role is to enhance and develop the working practices and culture between all the services in the local area. I work closely with people who have experienced homelessness, our colleagues who work in services and the local community to improve engagement. At the same time, I aim to galvanize support for St Mungo’s goal that everyone should have a home and should be able to fulfil their hopes and ambitions.