I moved in last summer as a live-in assistant, sharing a house with people with learning disabilities. I had met Kathy briefly some years ago, but got short shrift when I mentioned it, as she was adamant we hadn’t.
• Cost and logistics of Baku trip putting off supporters • Access issues exacerbate problems for wheelchair users
Disabled supporters have turned their backs on the Europa League final, joining a wave of dissent over Uefa’s decision to hold the showpiece event in Azerbaijan.
Arsenal and Chelsea have each sold only a single pair of tickets offering access to a disabled supporter and their assistant for Wednesday’s match in Baku’s Olympic Stadium. Arsenal have sold six pairs of easy access tickets for disabled supporters who do not require a wheelchair and Chelsea four pairs.
From the riotous office humour of Jerk to the satirical genius of Special, TV is finally embracing characters with cerebral palsy. We ask the stars of this new wave: is this a watershed moment?
‘It took years to convince someone to make this show,” says Ryan O’Connell. “First of all, my book flopped and sold two copies.” Called I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, the book was a moving and hilarious account of something he had been hiding in the popular blogs he had written about his life as a gay millennial. Like 17 million other people around the world, O’Connell has cerebral palsy, a condition affecting muscular coordination.
Four years on, Special, the comedy series based on his book, is airing on Netflix to great acclaim. Written by and starring O’Connell as a fictionalised version of himself, Special follows the writer as he interns at a clickbait journalism site called Eggwoke that publishes confessional blogs headlined “50 Ways to Hate Myself” or “Why Do I Keep Finding Things in My Vagina?” When his colleagues assume his condition is the result of a car accident, and not cerebral palsy, he goes along with it.
With councils hamstrung by cuts, innovative voluntary sector organisations are finding different ways of helping people
When you play rugby, says JP, a young man with learning disabilities, “you feel like you’re a legend … and that generations will think about you and celebrate what you’ve done”.
JP plays for St Helens and says his club “feels like we’re all one family, one tribe … together, united”. Playing the game has brought him new friendships, skills and confidence. He is supported by Community Integrated Care, a voluntary sector social care provider that introduced him to rugby league.
Leaving the EU will make life worse for poor and disabled people – but the anger that led to the vote must be addressed
Unless austerity ends, the UK’s poorest people face lives that are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. That was the finding on Wednesday from Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty, who warned worse could be yet to come “for the most vulnerable, who face a major adverse impact” if Brexit proceeds.
Days earlier, down the line at BBC 5 Live, the Brexit party candidate Lucy Harris declared that the average leave voter wants Brexit “at any cost”. Pressed further by presenter Nicky Campbell, Harris admitted this could mean volunteering for “30 years” of economic downturn.
Official reports into restraint, segregation and death are harrowing. But the government doesn’t care
Torture is the word I used this week to describe the treatment of children and young adults in private and NHS units, following publication of a Care Quality Commission report about the use of restraint and segregation in these places. The report detailed accounts of being locked in rooms without access to the outside, fed through hatches, for weeks, months or even years. One boy had not been washed for six months, while staff had to shout at another young man through a window because there was no equipment to enable communication. They would hold a book up at the window for him to read while he spent most of his time naked under a blanket.
Within hours of being admitted, Connor, who was in a terrified state, was restrained face-down for more than 10 minutes
BBC Panorama films Whorlton Hall staff taunting, provoking and scaring vulnerable people
Shocking evidence of abusive treatment of disabled people has been captured by secret filming for BBC Panorama in a chilling echo of the exposure of the Winterbourne View scandal eight years ago.
An undercover reporter employed as a care worker filmed colleagues taunting, provoking, intimidating and repeatedly restraining patients with learning disabilities or autism at the private Whorlton Hall hospital near Barnard Castle, County Durham.
Health secretary ‘moved and appalled’ after report identifies dozens of people spending prolonged periods in isolation
The care of every patient stuck in segregation will be independently reviewed, the health secretary has announced, after a report suggested many vulnerable people were being failed.
Matt Hancock said he had been “deeply moved and appalled” by stories of people with autism and learning disabilities spending prolonged periods in isolation in mental health units, and vowed to improve their treatment.
Chronic fatigue has left Amy Rosa ‘watching life through glass’. Her new show urges viewers to make vulnerability a radical act
‘We’re not taught how to process difficult emotions,” says performance artist Amy Rosa, “so we just hold on to them.” Every day for the past year, Rosa sat at her desk with a two-litre bottle of spring water. In an act of meditation, she concentrated on her thoughts from that day and imagined transferring them to the liquid. She then froze the feelings in the bottles, which she has been storing all over Scotland with friends. Rosa kept some of them in her bedroom: “I don’t think I’m going to be able to sleep without the hum of two freezers now.”
In a three-hour performance entitled There Is a Silence, under the enormous stained-glass windows of Glasgow University’s Chapel, Rosa piles together her frozen thoughts, extracted from the plastic, and invites an audience to join her in letting the feelings go.
A new Horrible Histories show celebrates the achievements of deaf figures, while Mathilda and the Orange Balloon also makes creative use of British Sign Language
Inspiration hit while theatre director Paula Garfield was reading bedtime stories with her two profoundly deaf daughters. As always, the family’s reading experience was a bilingual process, and a mixture of both written English and British Sign Language. But how much did Garfield’s daughters know about the history of BSL, and what role models (other than their award-winning deaf mother) might they have to look up to? Could there be a show to explore these ideas, she wondered. Perhaps a series of books she and her daughters loved – Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories – might hold the answer.
Five years on, and Garfield is deep into rehearsals for Horrible Histories: Dreadful Deaf, a co-production between Garfield’s deaf-led company Deafinitely Theatre and Birmingham Stage Company. It’s a family show for children and adults, both deaf and hearing, and will feature comedy cameos from a range of famous deaf figures including the painter Quintus Pedius and the so-called “father of the deaf”, Abbé Charles-Michel de l’Épée, who established the first deaf school in Paris in 1755.
Theatres must be brave, take the risk and invite deaf directors in