It’s time to speak out for care…literally

When I worked for a Member of Parliament one of the first tasks every morning was to struggle through the bulging post bag. That was before I even considered opening up the email inbox to see the hundreds of new emails that had flooded in since the day before. As well as the letters and emails from constituents, we would hear from organisations, all trying to get the attention of the MP on different issues or causes.

To get their attention you’ve got to try something a bit different

We’ve tried some innovative actions as part of our Britain Cares campaign. Last year we sent MPs over 1,000 individual photos of constituents showing how much they cared about social care. We followed it up by asking people to speak out for care and delivered over 400 speech bubbles to Parliament.

Social care is so important to so many disabled people across the UK. It’s the vital support that helps them live their lives in the way they want to. It’s help with getting up and dressed in the morning, preparing and cooking a meal or getting out of the house.

With the final debate in Parliament on the future of social care only weeks away we knew it was more important than ever to grab MPs attention.

This time we went one step further – we asked people to literally speak out for care. We took their messages, in their own voices, to their MPs.

The messages

Here’s some examples of the great messages we sent to MPs:

It was simple too. We recorded short messages on to small audio modules that we stuck into big cards and sent them on to Parliament. The video below shows how we did it:

When MPs opened up the mail the morning after we dropped off our audio cards, they received something a bit different, something that stands out from other letters. They heard from one of their own constituents. They heard why social care is so important and the opportunity that Care Bill is to make sure that everyone who needs care gets it.

With the 2014 Budget due next week, the CSA is uniting to put pressure on the Chancellor to invest in social care. To take part, sign up for the CSA thunderclap, asking George Osborne to take action and invest in care.

Emotional support from Face 2 Face: Danielle’s story

“It’s hard when you’re on your own, and I felt like it was always going to be just me.”  Danielle

When I speak to parents of disabled children, there’s one theme that comes up again and again – so much of the time, there’s no one to talk to when things are tough.Danielle

Not long ago I met Danielle, who spent years struggling with her six-year-old son Aaron’s challenging behaviour. He was eventually diagnosed with autism, but for a long time nobody could tell her what was wrong.

“I can’t even emphasise how dark it was,” says Danielle.

“I’d go to work and I’d cry, I’d come home and I’d cry, I’d go to bed and I wouldn’t sleep for crying.

“I didn’t want to be here anymore. As awful as it sounds, if it wasn’t for Aaron I wouldn’t be here. I just kept saying to myself: he’s got nobody else.

“It was just an absolutely atrocious time. I wasn’t even leaving the house – I’d take Aaron to school, go to work, come home and we would stay in every night.”

Things changed for Danielle when she got involved in Scope’s Face 2 Face scheme, which matches parents with a trained befriender who has a disabled child, or children, of their own

Danielle’s befriender, Julie, offered unconditional emotional support – and a chance to talk, without fear of judgement, to someone who had been there already.

“It was having somebody for mDanielle and Aarone. When Julie comes round, she doesn’t turn round and say, ‘How’s Aaron doing?’ She says, ‘How are you doing, what’s going on with you?’ I think sometimes you need that,” Danielle says.

Julia, a Face 2 Face Coordinator, says some parents don’t always realise they might need emotional support.

“They’re doing all right, ‘why do they need it?’ It’s seen as a weakness: ‘I’m fine, I can manage’”, she says.

Julia’s 18-year-old daughter is disabled, and she was supported by the scheme herself before becoming a befriender and later, a co-ordinator.

“It (Face 2 Face) really supported me, having that place to go where I could talk about how painful things were, things I couldn’t say to anybody close to me, and that my friends couldn’t possibly understand. I’m mindful of that when I meet familiesDanielle and Aaron now,” Julia says.

For Danielle, it was the practical as well as emotional support from her befriender which made a difference. From her own experience as a parent, Julie suggested places Danielle and Aaron could go, and services on offer.

“Aaron and I go places now – we’ll go to farms, we’ll go to play centres and things like that, which I would’ve never have done before”, says Danielle.

“I never left the house, I was stuck with Aaron 24 / 7. Now I have a social life, Aaron’s got friends – I’m just a different person.”

Attitudes to disabled children: the good, the bad and the change needed

We held a survey with MumsNet this week. It found 6 out of 10 parents of disabled children find activities – like play groups, youth clubs and leisure centres – shut out their son or daughter.

What’s shocking is that it’s not about access or specialist equipment. It’s about the attitudes and understanding of other parents and people running the activities. These make the biggest difference to whether disabled children have the chance to play and mix with other kids.

Thanks for sharing your experiences on our blog, Facebook and Twitter.  Here’s some of what you said — and how we can make a change.

The good

It’s encouraging to hear great examples of local activities welcoming disabled children, and how there seems to have been a change for the better over recent years.

“I help on a Scout camp for Scouts with special needs who may find camp with their own group difficult. I have been going for more than 25 years. When this was first set up, integration was virtually unheard of. Thankfully young ones are in their local Scout groups having fun with their peers and going camping without problems now.” – Dawn

“My daughter has an autism spectrum disorder. Our local gymnastics club has been brilliant. The club is now looking to expand and have more facilities and classes for children with additional needs.” – Mandy

“I always go to local groups with my disabled daughter! No one blinks an eye. We do live in a village where everyone knows everyone so they all know me and my daughter. We’ve never had a problem and I count myself very lucky.” – Charlotte

“My son had been made to feel very welcome by the Scouts and is loving it. Apart from development delay and an autistic spectrum disorder, he also had epilepsy. They are happy to have extra training on how to deal with a seizure. Very impressed. The children have been completely accepting of my son which in itself is great.” – Susan

The bad

We heard of many local activities shutting out disabled children. This echoed the findings of our survey with MumsNet.

“My daughter was thrown out of Brownies for being too disabled and asked to wait for a group that was more ‘disabled friendly’. Still hurts today and that was 12 years ago.” – Trina

“Find it hard to find play facilities, such as swings in parks and so on, that cater for children in wheelchairs.” – Dorren

The change needed

It’s clear from what parents say, that many local activities need to change so that more disabled children can take part.

Here are a few ways you’ve dealt with the challenges yourself.

“I offer to stay in the next room, so she gets her independence at the group but so I’m in the vicinity should she need me or should they need advice. Local drama group were very supportive.” – Emma

“Persistence! Our daughter with cerebral palsy is in Rainbows – part of the Girl Guides. It wasn’t easy finding a group who could take her. Then there was a lot of red tape and medical forms to fill in. In the end it was all worth it.” – Shelly-Ann

“I was careful to choose clubs that weren’t too busy. We chose Beavers because the leader said, “Why hasn’t he come with you – go and get him!” when I went to enquire.” – Adele

It’s great that some parents have found ways to deal with the problems or started their own activities, but the obstacles shouldn’t be there in the first place.

The Government is writing new guidelines on how councils should make sure disabled children can take part in local activities. We want them to support organisers and be clear on how activities should be run.

Everyone must play their part. We need commitment at every level to making sure disabled children can play, just like any child. As someone from the US Department of Education tweeted when they heard about our survey:

Negative attitudes hold disabled children back during half term #ThisisMyChild

Children playing

Today is the first day of half-term. For so many parents and children across the country, the half-term holidays are a time of playgroups, and football matches, Brownies, swimming and seeing friends.

But for too many parents of disabled children, school holidays are a time of stress and anguish at not being able to access the activities that so many children take for granted.

“My child feels frustrated when he can’t participate in the same clubs that his friends and sibling attend. It can be quite alienating and makes socialising with peers from school difficult at times.” (Joanne, Bristol)

“It not only affects my disabled child but also my other children who feel guilty for accessing mainstream activities and sometimes restricted from accessing them due to their sisters’ needs.” (Carly, Bristol)

“My daughter has missed out on lots of experiences that other kids take for granted: making new friends, trying out new things, becoming independent, etc.” (Helen, London)

Mumsnet survey

We joined forces with Mumsnet, the UK’s biggest website for parents, to survey parents of disabled children on their experiences trying to access after-school activities such as youth clubs, sports clubs, Brownies and Scouts.

And the results were astounding…

Six in ten parents of disabled children say that local activities are not open to their son or daughter because they are disabled. This means that four in ten parents of disabled children say that their children ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ have the opportunity to socialise and mix with children who are not disabled. This experience of being turned away from clubs has left them and their children feeling isolated and desperate.

“It makes my son feel excluded and very aware of the fact that, although he’s in mainstream school, he’s not ‘like’ the other children, which has really impacted on his self-esteem.” (Sarah, Canterbury)

“We were made to feel like outcasts sometimes due to behaviour issues and his bowel disorder. Staff would always refuse to help him. This was deeply upsetting.” (Tracy, Northfleet)

“Parents even in this day and age seem to think my son is a leper with a contagious disease yet he has cerebral palsy.” (Helen, Surbiton)

“It makes us feel awful, unwanted, isolated and alone. It puts additional pressure on us as parents as we feel we’d like to do more, but are so exhausted at trying to help him fit it.” (Mary, Ely)

Justine Roberts, Co-Founder and CEO of Mumsnet, said:

“One of the motivations for our This is My Child campaign is to show people that social inclusion of children with additional needs is crucial to their quality of life. With a bit of organisation and planning, children with disabilities can happily take part in all kinds of extra-curricular activities.”

The survey also revealed that 7 in 10 parents believe that more positive attitudes and better understanding of disability amongst staff and organisers would enable their child to be included. For them, this was far more of an issue in enabling their child to access after-school activities than inaccessible venues, for example. It is the people, not the buildings, that need to change.

What can we do?

Scope and Mumsnet are calling on local councils to do more to make local leisure activities, groups and play centres inclusive to disabled children. We believe that the Government needs to set the tone for a culture change in how local groups and centres are planning and run, so that they are accessible and inclusive for all local children and their families.

In the meantime, this half-term, we are also asking parents of disabled children to share their thoughts and tips on how to deal with the negative attitudes of staff at local activity centres.

Have you every experienced negative attitudes from staff at an extra-curricular activity in your area?

How have you challenged these attitudes to encourage them to include your child?

If you’ve been able to overcome these attitudes, we’d love to hear from you and will compile your suggestions into a short guide to help other parents during the holidays.

Being on Call the Midwife gave me the sense of being an actor in my own right

Guest post from Colin Young who will feature in tonight’s Call the Midwife

Jacob and Sally
Jacob and Sally played by Colin Young and Sarah Gordy

The reaction to this Sunday’s Call The Midwife has been overwhelming!

The episode features my character Jacob, who lives in an institution for disabled people. We learn about his relationship with another resident, Sally Harper, who has Down’s Syndrome. The story follows their struggle to be together as everyone around them rejects their right to be in love.

The media has described the episode as the most controversial story line yet. For me it’s highlighted an aspect of our social history that has not had the recognition it deserves: disabled people in love.

Meet Jacob

My character Jacob first appeared in series two of Call The Midwife. Living in St Gideon’s institution, he symbolised the segregation of disabled people in post-war Britain.

In the episode a couple need to decide if their child with spina-bifida should be put into St Gideon’s. Jacob steers them towards bringing their child up in the community with the line: “there’s a biscuit factory next door… we get the broken ones”.

Viewed by over 10 million people, people praised the show for using a disabled actor.

When we meet Jacob again in today’s episode he’s a responsible young man, contributing to the running of St Gideon’s.

How things have changed

Colin and Sarah
Colin and Sarah on This Morning

Lots of the media attention has been on my own love life. I’ve always tried to be as independent as possible, with support to enable me to achieve this. I believe that dating should be an ordinary part of my independence.

People aren’t as shocked at this as they were back in the 1950s. To see disabled people in a relationship isn’t the taboo it used to be. But it’s still difficult for disabled people to date.

Inaccessible venues, pressures to conform to stereotypes, and people’s attitudes all make dating challenging.

Changing attitudes towards disabled actors

I believe the courage shown by Call The Midwife will encourage writers and agents to include disabled people in their programmes. I hope we will see more disabled people in ordinary roles, where the focus is on their inclusion as equal members of the cast.

It was incredible to get my first professional acting role on such a popular drama. Playing the role of Jacob has been an amazing honour, but the best part has been the acceptance as an actor by the cast and crew. During the filming I felt like one of the family – chatting with Miranda in make-up, Helen and Bryony between scenes, and sharing banter with the sound crew. It gave me the sense of being an actor in my own right.

You can watch Colin in tonight’s episode at 8pm on BBC1.

A proud mum inspired by her twins to run the marathon for Scope

Guest post from Emma who has been inspired by her one-year-old twins Ava and Louie, who both have cerebral palsy, to run the Virgin London Marathon in April and raise funds for Scope. 

My beautiful twins Ava and Louie were born nine weeks prematurely. At birth they weighed just 4lb 1oz and 4lbs and spent 29 days in the neonatal unit at Hull Royal Infirmary receiving specialist care.

Louie, the smaller of the two spent more time in Intensive Care and the High Dependency Unit. He had to be put on a machine to assist him with his breathing, but after two weeks he joined his sister in the Special Care Room.

Traumatic

Baby in intensive careIt was the most traumatic time I have ever experienced. Going into labour so early, then not been able to hold your babies and seeing them all wired up in incubators. It was horrific.

I couldn’t go into Louie’s Room when he spent time in the High Dependency Unit without my husband going in first, I was so frightened and it was really hard because we didn’t get to see Louie’s face for a week as he had to wear a mask to help him breathe.

I cried all night

When my husband left the hospital on the nights I was still on the maternity ward I would just cry all night because I didn’t have my babies in my arms. I still get flashbacks now.

Phil holding the twins Nine days before the twins were discharged from hospital we received the news from the neo-natal paediatrician that routine ultrasound scans had revealed that both Ava and Louie had developed cysts in their brains, which were likely to have been caused by being premature.

The doctor told us that this would most likely lead to cerebral palsy, which the twins were later diagnosed with. They said that the severity of the condition would not be known until later on, but they told us that Louie’s injury was more extensive than Ava’s.

The doctor broke the news to us that the ‘worst case scenario’ could be that the twins would be wheelchair users and have very complex needs.

Shock

The shock of the diagnosis was difficult to accept, our babies seemed to be doing really well in hospital and the news felt like being hit by a bus.

I can’t remember getting home that night and my husband had to call for an emergency doctor as I had a anxiety attack. What made things so difficult was the fact that Ava and Louie were still in hospital, so we didn’t have them for comfort.

It sounds terrible, but there was a period of grieving for the life that we were expecting with our first children. Without the support of our amazing family and friends I really don’t think we would have got through it. We would wake up in the morning praying that we had just experienced the most horrific nightmare, but it was real.

We got some information about how the disability may affect the twins, and I’ve found chatting with other parents on Scope’s online parents’ forum to be really helpful, it’s so much harder to talk to people who haven’t been through something like this themselves.

A brighter future

The good news is that Ava and Louie are now doing well and we have all settled into family life.

Louie’s condition affects all four limbs and only Ava’s lower limbs. These are improving with the help of regular physiotherapy sessions, and they also have on-going support from occupational therapy and the community paediatrician.

The family togetherOur consultant at the hospital is pleased with how they are both progressing and Ava and Louie are giving us the answers, positive ones, on what the future holds. We have never experienced happiness like it, they are wonderful and although they have obstacles in their paths they are two determined little people.

We still struggle and there are times we really have to fight with the black cloud that’s overshadowing all our lives, the uncertainty is hard to manage at times.

Louie had an epileptic fit just before Christmas, at the time we weren’t sure what it was and it was so frightening seeing our child in this way. We had been told due to their diagnosis they could develop epilepsy and now he has. Ava has been fitted with splints to wear on her lower legs to help her movement in her lower limbs.

We are more positive now, and milestones in their development mean so much to us. Ava is now sitting up and rolling over, and Louie has just started to roll and his sitting is improving. We celebrate all their achievements, even if they might seem small to others, they are unbelievable and we are so very proud of them!

People think I’m mad for doing the marathon

I work part-time at the council and of my friends and family think that I’m ‘mad’ to start training for a marathon when I already have so much on her plate. But I’m finding the training therapeutic.

Emma and the twinsAlthough we still have to an uncertain future to some extent, we are blessed each and every day with Ava and Louie, they are our beautiful children and each and every day they make us so happy, they truly rock our worlds and the love we have for them is just indescribable.

I am running my first marathon for my two beautiful children Ava and Louie and this fantastic charity Scope, which together with our fantastic support from our family and friends, has made Phil and I not dread the future, nor the words cerebral palsy.

You can sponsor Emma for her fundraising efforts.

Have you got your own place in the London Marathon? Join Emma and be a part of Team Scope and have the amazing feeling of making a real contribution to Scope’s work with disabled people and their families.

Belgium vote to legalise euthanasia for terminally ill children

Richard Hawkes blogs about the news that Belgium has voted to legalise euthanasia for terminally ill children.

Many British disabled people will be looking nervously over at Belgium. They may still only be one of a handful of countries to legalise euthanasia. But the news raises many of the same issues that we’re grappling with in the UK when it comes to assisted suicide.

Right now there are loud, well-organised and influential, calls to legalise assisted suicide for terminally ill adults. But there are lots of ordinary people, not least disabled people, who are really worried at the way we seem to be edging towards a change in the law.

There are important parallels with Belgium. What Belgium’s experience shows – as with the other handful of countries, which have legalised euthanasia or assisted suicide – is that where the law is changed, euthanasia and assisted suicide go up.

In Belgium, there has been a sharp increase in the number of euthanasia deaths, which has increased from 235 in 2003, the first year the law came in, to 1133 euthanasia deaths in 2011, the last year for which official data is available.

Belgium’s decision also shows that when you implement such laws they don’t always stay within their original parameters. And certainly the assisted dying proposals from Lord Falconer leave the door open to broaden it from people with not terminally ill to people with disabilities.

Also, once again doctors are vocal in their opposition. At home, the British Medical Association and the Royal Colleges of General Practitioners, Surgeons and Physicians are all opposed to legalising physician-assisted suicide.

Over here disabled people are asking why our response to people wanting to die is to talk them out of it, but in the case of sick and disabled people it’s how can we help you die.  The law on assisted suicide works. It also sends a really powerful message countering the view that if you’re disabled it’s not worth being alive, and that you’re a burden. It stops that view turning into something much worse.

We can’t change a law that works on the basis of powerful, but exceptional cases. Politicians will debate assisted suicide again later this year. They need to guard against community bullying of our most vulnerable members.

How to keep your relationship strong

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and love is in the air, but if you have a disabled child, you may find your relationship takes a back seat. Parenting a disabled child can put a significant strain on your partnership, so take a look at some of these top tips from the Netbuddy community (now part of Scope):

Parents of a disabled child sitting close together

Keep talking

It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut where all you talk about is the kids, appointments, work and domestic stuff. Make sure you keep talking about all the other interesting things that once brought you together and interests you share. Don’t let that go!

Trust your partner to parent

Trust your partner to parent. Sometimes we shut them out and do things ourselves without giving them a chance.

Do something nice every day

When we married, my husband and I vowed that we would endeavour to do something nice for each other every day, small tokens like making a drink or running a bath. In turn, the other person would always appreciate this effort and thank them, not taking it for granted.

Make time

Try to make time as a couple, even if it’s only to have a chat over a cup of tea once the children are in bed. Talk and listen to each other. Washing up can wait!

Make light

My husband and I play a game where we place bets with each other which of our three disabled children will wake/kick off etc at what times. The ‘winner’ gets a treat from the other partner. Sounds silly, but making light of intensely stressful situations really does help us cope.

Keep communication open

Have an agreed plan of how to manage your child and keep communication open between yourselves.

Think positive

Learn how to think positive in moments of stress.

Family with a daughter in a wheelchairShare it with your best friend

You have to learn to laugh through the stress together or it will crush your relationship. There are ups and downs daily. Communicate everything … fear, anger, humour. Cry, laugh, love, share with your best friend.

No blame

Communication is the key to everything. Understanding that sometimes we get it wrong and not blaming each other.

Share issues

Make sure you both understand your child’s condition and what it means, so you can talk about how to approach issues. When one of you works full time and the other goes to all the appointments, it’s easy for the working partner to feel pushed out and in the dark. That can lead to them giving up trying, so the full-time carer feels unsupported.

Play to each others’ strengths

Play to each others’ strengths. I’m good at paperwork. Hubby is great at housework. So I sort school letters, DLA forms, statements etc. Hubby hoovers, mops etc.

RespectHappy couple with disabled child

Respect is very important. Respect your partner’s opinions even if you don’t share them. That will allow you to move on through disagreements and focus on the positives.

Leave a note

Leave messages around the house for each other to find, reminding the partner how they are appreciated/loved … or sending a text message.

Let them help

Let your partner help when they can. Yes, they may do things differently, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Communicate your feelings

Dealing with the stress involved with having a child (disabled or not) amplifies any problems that already exist. Every day I thank my lucky stars that my wife is with me and that my daughter is well … and I tell them both as often as I can that I love them and appreciate all they do. My tips would be communicate, listen and support.

Ask yourself …

‘What is the one thing I can do this week that will make my partner feel special?’ and plan time in the diary to do it.

Sleep on it

Sleep is very important. If you are both sleep deprived, arguments are much more likely to happen. Try taking it in turns to get up at night so one person always has a full night’s sleep.

To see more great relationship tips, and to add your own, please visit netbuddy.org.uk

Let’s talk about sex!

It’s hard to escape the heart-shaped balloons and teddy bears at this time of year but just how many of us have had ‘the conversation’ with our children, says Netbuddy’s sex and relationships expert Gill Leno?

Why people with learning disabilities deserve good sex and relationships education

Gill Leno

Sex and relationships education can be hit and miss at the best of times. Even in mainstream schools it’s fair to say that it can be inconsistent; young people frequently report that it’s too little, too late, and too focused on the biological end of things.

For children and young people with learning disabilities, a good, well-rounded awareness of sex and relationships is particularly important as it helps to protect against abuse and exploitation. It also helps in learning about appropriate behaviour, and making positive choices both sexually and socially.

Good sex and relationships education allows children to explore their bodies and their sexuality in a safer way, by giving them facts and information. Sexuality is a deeply personal thing, and learning how to express it is important for all young people, regardless of disability. Educating children and young people about sex in a positive, non-biased means they will have the same information as their peers in mainstream education. Sex education that is given in an accessible and inclusive way helps avoid the danger of misinterpreted information. It ensures young people understand exactly what sex entails and what consent really means.

Good sex and relationships education plays an enormous part in supporting young people to achieve independence and self confidence. The earlier we start, the better.

Talk to me

However, it can be a bit of a challenge if it’s something you don’t feel confident about. That’s why I’m here. I run a sex and relationships forum on Netbuddy, where I am happy to talk about anything – staying safe, body changes, what the law says, what sort of resources are out there and more. I can answer questions around the more practical end of talking about sex and relationships, for example how I teach about things like condoms and contraception and how my experiences might be useful for you.

It’s time sex and relationships education was brought out into the open and discussed properly. Whatever is being done at school and college can only go so far without the support and contributions of parents and carers. It really does need to be a combined effort. So let’s share! It takes a lot to make me blush, so please feel free to ask me anything.

Gill is waiting for your questions on the Netbuddy forum now. Why not drop her a line? And don’t forget to check out Netbuddy’s Sex and Relationships info pack too.

No phone, no social media and no Google maps. Just real life.

In our last post we introduced you to our brand new event which encourages people to raise money for Scope whilst giving up technology for the weekend – Digital Detox is a good old-fashioned weekend without technology.

In the lead-up to her analogue 48 hours, Alice Wilkie started a blog documenting her fears and panic over losing digital.

5 Days to go

I am going 48 hours without digital in aid of Scope, raising money that could potentially provide assisted technologies to those who need it. As of today, the data on my phone has run out. I have a monthly allowance of 1GB but I ALWAYS run out part way through the month and 9 times out of 10 will top it up. This time however, I thought it would be better to dip my toe in the water and leave it, and guess what? ME NO LIKEY.

I think it’s fair to say I’m feeling pretty anxious. I spoke to my Mum on the phone tonight and she said I can’t possibly go without a phone in London. Love you Mum, but it’s happening.

4 days to go

Running out of data is definitely giving me a taste of what the weekend is going to be like. I went to an event about social entrepreneurship yesterday afternoon. It was at a place I’ve never been to before, and my Google maps was not working due to lack of data allowance. So I literally had to (shock-horror!) use street signs and speak to people!

Talking to strangers was actually rather nice. One man even called up his friend to ask him for directions to the place I was looking for as he was unsure. However, part of me has been thinking it would be nice to top up my data and make the most of my apps and stuffs before the weekend.

3 days to go

Today was focus groups training day! Woo! This is a course I’ve been looking forward to going on. It’s basically all about how to run focus groups and get the best out of them – it was extremely interesting! Overall I had a great day – however, no data plus no WiFi meant I was unable to check Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Twitter, Emails… Nothing! ALL. DAY. And again, I had to ask a stranger for directions. This time I opted for a fruit and veg stall man, and rather embarrassingly I was standing outside the hotel I was looking for. I think this made me realise just how dependent I am on my Google maps… So much so that I’m incapable of just looking around me and using a bit of common sense!

2 days to go

So! Really chuffed with how many donations I’ve got – £73 so far! That’s 152% of my £48 target. So thank you so much to all who have donated! All day today my work colleague, Claudia, has suggested that I buy a board game. Lovely idea Claudia… But no. Plus I’m not going to have anyone to play with at this rate. Oooh, in happier news – my data has been renewed! This means I have spent as much time as possible today listening to Spotify.

Camera and photos
Looking forward to using this for 48 hours instead of Instagram

I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to fill my time this weekend… Most prominent ideas include – getting drunk for 48 hours, reading my book, getting the train somewhere and having a mooch, taking pictures with Rupert’s polaroid camera, going to the gym, going for a long walk, going to see Ellie, sleeping all weekend, or rocking up at my Nan’s house as a surprise.

Wonder whether I’ll do any of the above. Other worries include – what am I going to do without speaking to the boyfriend all weekend?! We must literally exchange about 50 texts/ Facebook messages/ Whatsapps/ Youtube clips/ Snapchats per day. Oh… And speak for around an hour most nights on the phone.

Ah well… You know the saying… Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

15 hours and 28 minutes to go…

I’m going into a digital coma. No phone, no internet, no social media, but most importantly NO GOOGLE MAPS. I think that is what I am freaking out about most…

Notebook and post-it notes
Ready for my digital free weekend with my old school notebook and Facebook message post-it notes!

On the way home from work

My phone died.

Boyfriend writingI was freaking out on the bus. I ALWAYS listen to Spotify when I’m on the bus, and I couldn’t. The 20 minute journey seemed like an hour long. Plus, when I got to my front door, I rang and rang the doorbell and nobody answered. Thankfully my phone decided it would turn back on for a quick burst so that I could call my boyfriend to let me in.

Wow, this weekend is going to be harder than I imagined. I knew it was going to be hard, but I was kind of joking about it and not thinking it through too much, but NOW it’s hit me! Eeek.

My lovely boyfriend wrote me a little note for the weekend 🙂

I’ve had some wine and I’m feeling pretty sad now.

Who’d have thought turning your phone and internet off for 48 hours would be so emotional?!

Only 33 minutes to go…

Saturday 23 November

So, on Saturday I literally woke up with clammy hands from DREAMING about the Internet?! I lay in bed for about an hour resisting the urge to check my phone before getting up like I usually would. After having a coffee and showering, I thought I might as well brave the outdoors and see how I get on.

At 11am I got the tube to Piccadilly Circus and walked to Oxford Street. I had a mooch around and found the camera shop Lomography on Carnaby Street. I’d never been to Carnaby Street before- it’s so cute! I was pretty surprised how easy it was to get around without Google maps. Admittedly it probably took me 5-10 minutes longer than it normally would – but I got there.

I then walked to Regent’s Park to experiment with the camera (Just going started now – I didn’t quite work the camera out over the weekend… You’ll see this from my photos! Out of 20 Polaroids you can only see something resembling a picture in about 4).

I found I was really aware of myself without having my phone or my headphones. Particularly on public transport where I always have my headphones on or am chatting away on my phone. I also noticed that I kept tapping my right coat pocket to check my phone was in there- which I normally do out of habit every 10 mins or so it seemed!

When I got back I called Gaz on the landline. Was so nice to chat, but really strange talking on the phone and not being able to move (old school landline)! Sounds silly but it was really weird putting the phone down and not being able to send a text or anything?! As normally we’d get off the phone and send a text goodnight or something. Gaz said he’d found the day difficult too, particularly not being able to send me funny Youtube clips!

Overall, the day was hard, but I did feel kind of liberated. One day down, one to go.

Sunday 24 November

Felt a bit better on Sunday! Think that’s because I knew I only had 24 hours left!

I woke up, had breakfast, watched a bit of Titchmarsh and then got ready to meet Ellie. I’d written directions to Ellie’s down on Friday so I was looking forward to seeing if I’d be able to find my way there without getting lost!

Got to Ellie’s about 20 minutes early so decided to walk around Vauxhall park and failed to take photos that were any good YET AGAIN. After roaming around for a bit I could hear “ALIIIIIICE!!!” And Ellie was hanging out of her top floor flat like Rapunzel!

Was slightly worried on the way back because I’d told Gaz I’d ring him on the landline around 5pm-ish and it was now nearly 8.30pm. Called him when I got in and he had been a bit worried about where I was! But it was nice to chat and remind ourselves that we’d be back to our obsessive-texting-selves by Monday.

Monday 25 November

Woke up this morning and couldn’t wait to turn on my phone to find:

  • 10 Facebook notifications
  • 5 texts
  • 8 Snapchats
  • 16 emails
  • 3 Instagram likes

Got ready for work in my usual way… Checking my phone in bed, checking it after having a shower, drying my hair and putting my make-up on whilst texting/Facebooking, getting on the bus with my headphones on listening to Spotify (whilst browsing the web) and only taking them off when I stepped into the office. Yay, back to the 21st century!

Despite slipping straight back into my usual ways I think I have learned a lot this weekend. Such as:

  • I CAN find my way from A to B without Google maps
  • I don’t need to be in constant contact with people, and it feels much nicer and more special when the contact is more sparse and deliberate.
  • I can go to the gym without my phone, and I think I will from now on.
  • I feel very self-conscious and more self-aware when I am without my phone and headphones- particularly on public transport.
  • I obsessively tap my right pocket to check my phone’s in there – I CAN sit on my own and not flick through my phone. People are on their phones SO MUCH.
  • I need to learn how to use a Polaroid camera

Polaroid photos

It seems like the weekend had a long-lasting effect on Alice as she soon updated her blog.

Guess what…

I went to the gym this morning WITHOUT my phone. And I traveled to work WITHOUT my headphones on. WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ME!?!”

For your chance to get to grips with using a Polaroid camera, sign up for your own 48 hour detox. Digital Detox will be returning the first weekend in March. To meet previous detoxers find us on Facebook and Twitter.