U is for Under The Covers – #EndtheAwkward

On October 25 we get a sultry extra hour in bed, when the clocks go back. And we’re using the impending darker, chilly mornings as a great excuse to stay under the covers, entwined with a lover and the perfect breakfast in bed.

Ronnie Murray, Group Head Chef at Mark Hix restaurants, has a shortened left arm and is backing Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability. He gives us a sexy, stamina-inducing recipe to keep the fires of passion burning longer.

U is for Under the Covers and is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability.

Chef Ronnie Murray posing for a photo in his restaurant kitchenThis blog contains frank information about sex. It’s meant for people over the age of 16, please only continue if you are 16 or older.

Sex and dating with a disability can be stressful enough without the thought that you also need to perform in the kitchen to keep someone interested.

Having a shortened arm definitely hasn’t ever held me back, in my career, or the bedroom. In fact my wife is adamant it’s a big bonus having more room to manoeuvre when we’re in the middle of a romantic clinch!

All I’ve ever wanted was to be a chef and through passion and hard graft I’ve made it happen. With sex it’s the same thing- creativity and determination!

People ask me strange questions about my arm all the time, which can get a bit wearing but I know it’s just comes down to a lack of understanding at the end of the day.

I’ve never had bad dates because of my disability. It’s a talking point.

I don’t know whether being a chef ups your sex-symbol credentials but treating someone you fancy to a brilliant breakfast in bed certainly helps to keep you ahead of any dating competitors.

My blueberry drop ‘your knickers’ scones will have your lover begging for more Under the Covers action.

If you like Ronnie’s recipe for seduction success, help us #EndtheAwkward by sharing it on your Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else you like!

Ronnie’s Raunchy Recipes 

Blueberry Drop ‘Your Knickers’ Scones

Blueberry compote

100g frozen blueberries
50g jam sugar

Put the frozen blueberries and caster sugar in a pan on a low heat, bring to the boil, stirring from time to time.  Simmer for a few minutes until the compote starts to thicken. Set aside to cool.

Drop scones

250g self-raising flour (dove gluten free)Picture of blueberry pancakes
2g baking powder
50g caster sugar
10g golden syrup
2 eggs, beaten
About 300ml milk
50g melted butter for greasing
50g frozen blueberries
150g blueberry compote
1 small pot of Greek yoghurt
1 tin of golden syrup

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then add the sugar. Stir in the golden syrup, eggs and enough of the milk to form a thick smooth batter that just drops off the spoon. Using a spoon fold in the frozen blueberries.

Heat a non-stick pan or solid top and brush with some of the melted butter. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and let them cook for 3 minutes until bubbles rise, then turn them over with a palette knife or spatula and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Put them on some kitchen paper, while you are cooking the rest.

To serve place a warm drop scone onto a plate, spoon some of the blueberry compote on top, place another drop scone on top to finish then drop a spoonful of Greek yoghurt on top and drizzle with some golden syrup.

Whip Up A Fruity Little Number

Serves 4

Whipped goat’s curd with berries and honey roasted oats

Picture of a yoghurt with berries280g whipped goat’s curd
120g honey roasted oats
320g fresh berries such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or a good mix of each
A drizzle of honey

Put a good dollop of the whipped goat’s curd on a plate and using the back of the spoon work the mix out to evenly cover the plate. Place the berries on top of the whipped cheese scatter the honey roasted over the top. To finish drizzle with honey.

 Whipped goat’s curd

240g goat’s curd or soft goat’s cheese
40g icing sugar
1 vanilla pod
A splash of milk

Put the goat’s cheese, icing sugar and seeds from the vanilla pod in a large bowl. Using a whisk ‘whip’ all of the ingredients together, if it’s a bit thick add the splash of milk. This could also be done in a food mixer. This can be kept in the fridge for a few days until needed.

Honey roasted oats

250g oats
150g butter
125g honey
75g golden castor sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C

In a pan melt the butter gently with the honey and brown sugar.

Add the oats and mix. Spread the mix onto a baking tray lined with silicone paper and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, occasionally turning them to ensure an even colour. This will keep in an airtight container for a few weeks.

U is for Under the Covers is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability. Read the rest of the A to Z

Driving down the cost of taxis and private hire vehicles for disabled people

This June saw the launch of the final report of the Extra Costs Commission, a year-long independent inquiry into the extra costs faced by disabled people. Scope research indicates that these costs amount to an average of £550 a month.

As part of its investigation, the Commission focussed on five key areas of extra cost. Alongside clothing and bedding, specialised equipment, energy and insurance, the Commission identified that many disabled people spend a lot of money on taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs).

The Commission found that disabled people are 67 per cent more reliant on taxis and PHVs than non-disabled people. This may be due to a number of reasons, including situations where public transport is inaccessible or in short supply, or cases where someone’s impairment may cause them to become agitated in public environments, such as epilepsy or autism.

Disabled people may face a number of issues whilst travelling by taxi or PHV. For example, two thirds of wheelchair users report that they have been charged more by drivers because of their wheelchair.

Accessible vehicles

The lack of accessible vehicles is another issue – less than half of taxis in England and Wales are accessible once London is removed, whilst only three per cent of PHVs are accessible. A shortage of accessible vehicles can limit market competitiveness from which non-disabled people benefit.

Another problem is varying attitudes and standards amongst taxi and PHV drivers with regards to disability, which can lead to difficulties for disabled passengers whilst travelling. As part of the research one disabled person told us:

“I am always charged a lot extra for taxis…I am expected to pay, on average, £10 extra for a taxi journey…that’s if you can get one.”

How can we improve private hire services for disabled people?

Following a review by the Law Commission into how laws relating to taxis and PHVs could be changed, the Commission has called upon the Government to adopt the recommendations from this that relate to disability. These concentrate on things such as strengthening disability awareness training for drivers and increasing the proportion of accessible vehicles.
There have been various bits of activity to improve taxi and PHV service provision for disabled people following the Commission’s final report.

Recently, one of the Commissioners, James Moore, spoke at a Local Government Association event about his experiences of taxis and PHVs as a disabled passenger. This was a useful opportunity to highlight the Commission’s findings on the taxi and PHV industry and disability.

Additionally, Scope has been participating in a review by the House of Lords into the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on disabled people. Scope has submitted written and oral evidence to this review, which has covered the Commission’s recommendations for driving down the cost of taxis and PHVs for disabled passengers.

Lastly, Uber this week launched a new addition to their app called UberASSIST, which is designed to give disabled people additional assistance they may require whilst travelling. Available initially in London, a series of Uber’s drivers have undertaken disability equality training to deliver this service. Further down the line, Uber hope to begin providing fully accessible vehicles.

Scope will be continuing its influencing work around taxis and PHVs to tackle the challenges that disabled people can experience in accessing these services.

Find out more about the Extra Costs Commission.

T is for Tinder – #EndTheAwkward

Whether you’re looking for love or a one-time hook-up, Tinder and other dating apps are dominating the UK dating scene.

Mary Russell, star of Channel 4’s dating show, The Undateables, and blogger and student Holly Bea, talk about their first forays into the online dating scene.

T for Tinder is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability.

Mary’s story

Before I did The Undateables or any other media work, I tried out a couple of dating websites. I never go on them now because it’s so hard to know who will be genuine or not, but at the time I was dipping my toe in the water.

My first mistake was not mentioning in my profile that I had dwarfism and I had decided not to include a photograph.

I started talking to a guy. His picture didn’t particularly attract me, but from the information in his profile he sounded like someone who would be good to get to know.

And then he asked to see a picture of me. I thought ‘oh shit’. I never wanted to shock people, I just hadn’t thought about when I wanted to talk about my dwarfism.

So I sent him a photograph of myself. I know when people see me for the first time that I might not be what they’re expecting.

At first I thought his response was quite gentlemanly. I think he did his best not to hurt my feelings. He didn’t directly say ‘no’. He said: “Don’t you just hate this online dating thing?” And then he said he was going to give it a break for a while.

To be honest it made me feel really shit. I think my photo probably shocked him.

But I used it as a learning experience. I went on quite a few dates with men I met online and I made sure I had a full body shot in my profile picture. In my personal details, I said: “I have dwarfism and I’m proud of it.”

Dateable

You have to look beyond the impairment or the condition and get to know the person. When I sent him the photo of myself, it felt like who I was didn’t matter. But I’m so glad it happened, you learn a lot about people.

When I first heard the title of Channel 4’s The Undateables, it made me feel very sad. But I watched the show and it was beautifully put together. I think when you look past the title there are just some really engaging stories.

I’ve been inundated with guys wanting to date me – I never thought that would be the response! I’ve spend many years not feeling great about myself and now I embrace my disability at every opportunity.

Follow Mary on Twitter @Marysodateable and Facebook Dwarfism Beautiful

Holly’s story

I started online dating wondering ‘what will it be like?’ The answer is an absolute minefield!

Online we can all be who we want to be, we’re completely anonymous and often a lot more confident than in real life. Humour is my friend when trying to break the ice. Once the ice is broken I can then address the elephant in the room: my disability. I have cerebral palsy, scoliosis and use a wheelchair.

This is always risky. I don’t overtly state it on my profile because I’m worried that it will put people off. I try to drop it in to conversation in a jokey way if I can – this is where the exchange can become interesting!

These are genuine reactions I’ve had after saying that I’m in a wheelchair:

“Oh that’s a shame”
“Can you feel everything?”
“What a waste of a pretty girl”
“So you’re a virgin then?”
“Cool, I’ve never had sex with a disabled girl before, can we?”

Just seeing those reactions written down reminds me that the perception of disabled people is warped and based on stereotypes. But for every nine idiots there is one guy that will still talk to me once I’ve dropped the ‘D bomb’ – disclosing my disability.

Dropping the ‘D bomb’

My most awkward date has to be a couple of months ago when a guy uttered words that I can only assume were intended to make me swoon: “So when are you actually going to tell me why you’re in a wheelchair?”

I quickly joked: “oh this is a bit heavy for a first date.” But he just kept going: “It’s a shame really. You are too sexy to be in a wheelchair.” Needless to say, I just left thinking ‘what the?!’

But it’s not all bad. I have had great first date experiences too. One swipe right had a great sense of humour, a good smile and there was no awkwardness.

I don’t want to place this guy on pedestal for just being a decent human being, but so far my experience of the dating game is that guys like this are a majestic endangered species and are not often seen.

Dating is hard for anyone

Dating is hard for anyone and it’s just that bit more awkward when you have a disability. I can understand why some find it scary but we are still people.

I just want people to remember that yes, my disability has to be consideration but is not a definition. I am more than that. I’m the girl who laughs at her own jokes, watches trashy TV but knows how to hold an intellectual conversation too.

I may not have found my Mr Right but I’ll have fun searching, so watch this space.

Read Holly’s blog It’s Holly Bea or follow her on Twitter @ItsHollyBea

T for Tinder is part of Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability. Read the rest of the A to Z.