One of the biggest things disabled people have to endure is patronising people. Whether it's a pat on the head or their assumptions we are stupid and/or harmless, disabled people are often the most susceptible targets for the patronising.
Another month, another comedian goes out to Africa... Thus far I respond to human suffering with my head not heart. I'm a professional and cynical observer of life after all, aren't I? Well I've brought my wife and daughter as human shields - they can shed tears for me. We're escorted by the director of a small charity, and a photographer.
We can proactively address the food crisis issue and put in place measures to reduce its impact, but without addressing the causes of the widening gap between rich and poor any solution will be short term.
The story of two teenage girls raped and murdered in India this spring while looking for a discreet place to relieve themselves outdoors made headlines around the world. Sadly, their situation is far from unique. Half a billion women and girls - 15% of females worldwide - are forced to do this every day simply because they do not have access to a toilet. This crisis risks women's health, and threatens their safety. The new Indian government was moved to act following the tragedy of the two Dalit girls in Uttar Pradesh, pledging zero tolerance for acts of violence against women. Their statement is welcome. However, protecting women from harassment and attack will not happen overnight.
A person suffering a degenerative disease, no matter how well they cope, cannot in reality be upbeat and happy every single moment of each day. This would be impossible and an unrealistic expectation.
As a charity representing thousands of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) it's concerning when we see sensationalised stories in the media about 'benefit cheats' and 'disability scroungers'. These unappealing headlines, along with the much publicised Government benefit crackdown, do little to help members of the public understand what it's really like to live with a disability.
After reading about Robin Williams re admitting himself to rehab I was reminded of the journey I have taken as a recovering crack cocaine addict.
I have never really been a very charitable person apart from the usual; sponsoring friends, completing lengthy swims for Cancer Research and Comic Relief & Children in Need donations etc. So when I had to fill in an application form at AOL UK to be part of a volunteer trip with Free the Children charity in Kenya, I was a bit thin on the evidence to make my case as to why I should be picked.
When I first became a music therapist many years ago, I worked with small children between the age of 3 to 5 in a community setting where both typical children and children with disabilities attended during the day. There were about 20 of them in the class. Half of them had disabilities, such as autism and Down Syndrome, while the other half did not.
Imagine a country where, at the stroke of a pen and without any recourse to a judge, a faceless Government official can deprive someone of their liberty and, at the stroke of a pen, consign them indefinitely to what to all intents and purposes is a prison, without them having being charged with or convicted of any crime. That country is Britain. And if you thought that this use of state power was characteristic only of dictatorships or tyrannies, then think again, as it's happening here, on our doorstep, under our noses, without any fuss and certainly without any publicity.
Since appearing on GMB, people have asked me "If there's a training programme which saves babies, why isn't it made mandatory? I didn't think stillbirth was preventable". I didn't think stillbirth was preventable either but I also didn't realise how common it was or how the UK has one of the highest stillbirth rates in the developed world. Until it happened to me.
I felt guilty as I slid the 'Get Well Soon' card into the recycling bin. I'd only just read it after excitingly tearing it open in the rare occasion that a hand-written envelope came through my letterbox. But the words on the front of the card just filled me with tears... 'Get Well Soon'.
Donating an organ is one of the most inspiring and altruistic things a person can do. It is often the gift of life to someone who is critically ill and might otherwise have just weeks or months left to live. It can give families in their darkest hour, the opportunity to turn their tragedy into hope.
Being a teenager is difficult enough without having to also cope with the impacts of drinking dirty water and not having somewhere to go to the toilet or manage your period. I know now why WaterAid's work is so vital.
During the course of my humanitarian work in Syria, I have listened to many children share their perspectives. The death of family members, whether siblings or a parent or other loved one is common. Being displaced from their homes, often more than once, and finding their friends and communities snatched away. Memories of repeated attacks from warring parties that flattened whole neighborhoods, fires that raged through the night stay with them.
Sometimes commercial viability of biomedical inventions or therapeutics exists only in developed countries, even though minor product optimisations could increase access to life-saving medical care in resource-limited settings through cost reduction and functionality additions.