Tag Archives: Milton Keynes

“I love exploring the world with my son”

Last November, Marie and her husband Dan became proud parents of baby Mark. Marie has brittle bone disease and uses a wheelchair, so aspects of being a mum can be challenging. But the new family are finding inventive ways to enjoy time together.

Mark is now seven months and is developing fast. It has been amazing seeing him flourish and the satisfaction of knowing Dan and I are doing a great job is incredible. He is now onto three solid meals a day, plus his milk of course. He seems to enjoy everything that is put in front of him, but banana and broccoli are definitely his two favourites!

Marie feeding seven-month-old Mark in a park
Marie and Mark enjoying their local park

It is still very difficult that I can no longer physically lift Mark. He is now a third of my body weight and sitting down we are the same height! Even though we always knew this day would come, I sometimes wish he was a tiny baby again so I could relive being able to carry him.

We are, however, getting inventive and starting to see our local area in a whole new light. Our local play park has baby swings, which the designers have accidently put at the perfect height for me to push and play with Mark! He giggles and grins his head off the whole time. It is also really nice to be at eye level with him in such a care free ‘natural’ environment. Needless to say, this is now on our regular walking route!

Milton Keynes was clearly designed with all young families in mind, including ours. We have a comprehensive cycle network, separate from the roads, and you can guess what this means: complete safe level access, city wide.

To make the most of this, I have just got hold of a frankly awesome, new power chair. Provided by the local Wheelchair Service, it took a considerable amount of fighting and battling to get but it was worth it in the end. The new wheelchair can go up to eight miles an hour, which means once Mark is on his feet, and especially on his bike, we can have a brilliant time exploring the area as a family.

My new chair also allows me greater freedom around the home and is enabling me to do things faster, which comes in handy when Mark wants his breakfast! Mark loves the new wheelchair too, using the lights as a homing beacon if I am in it while he’s in his walker.

Dan and I are finding different and amazing ways to play with Mark together as a family. Mark’s favourite game at the moment is for us to sit at opposite ends of our 15 metre laminate hallway, while he runs between us in his walker, laughing his head off. Just that simple act of him running towards me on the floor, mouth agape, giggling like mad is enough to melt anyone’s heart!

We are now planning more adventures, trips away and places to visit, while life goes on in general. We are still completely overwhelmed by the positive attitudes we see and even complete strangers simply adore our little family.

Marie is blogging about being a disabled mum for Scope, and has been raising awareness by talking to Sunday People, That’s Life! magazine and Disability Horizons

Does he take sugar with his tea?

Paul Jenkins

Paul Jenkins is a public speaker with cerebral palsy. He works to change society’s attitudes to disabled people.

Paul grew up in large institutions where it was hard to feel independent. In 1996, he moved to his own home in Milton Keynes, which he describes as a big step in gaining independence: “It was the first time I’d had my own front door,” says Paul. “That was the best feeling.”

A few years ago, Paul was a victim of hate crime. One day in his home town he was approached by two people who asked the time, then took his helmet and stole his bag and £100. Paul feels certain they targeted him because he is disabled. “I didn’t know what to do, I felt so angry and upset.”

Sharing experiences of disability

Feeling frustrated, yet inspired to talk about his life and share his experiences, Paul decided to put together a presentation. “I had all these thoughts in my head that I wanted to get out. My aim was to give people an insight into my personality and teach them about disability,” he says.

He started by taking his presentations to local schools. “At first I was really nervous. I just remember a lot of kids looking at me! But slowly I began to get used to it.”

Paul produced more presentations and now gives his talks to people in Scope too. He trains new staff when they arrive, helping them understand how to work with disabled people. He also sits in on interviews to help recruit new staff. “Scope involves disabled people and listens to us,” he says. “We have been shut away from society for too long.”

Disability trainers in every service

Paul now works with Karen Fairbrother, our service manager in Milton Keynes, to help other disabled people give talks about their lives and raise awareness of disability. His vision for the future is to have a trained speaker in every Scope service.

For Paul, it’s about giving people the opportunity to ask questions about disability and break down the barriers which exist in society. “All the feedback so far has been really positive,” he says. “I feel like the work I’m doing is making a difference.”

The one thing Paul stresses time and time again is to talk to disabled people directly. “Don’t look at someone I’m with and ask if I want sugar in my tea; ask me! There is a tendency for people to treat me like I am a child, like I don’t have opinions. I know many other disabled people feel like this too.”

Paul says becoming a public speaker has given him a renewed sense of purpose. “Afterwards I feel like I’m on an up, it’s a real rush! My ultimate goal is to change society’s attitudes to disabled people. It is my hope that, one day, disabled people will be treated equally. I don’t think that day is too far away.”