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Monthly Archives: July 2013

The highs and the lows and the highs

Hurray, today’s the day for the launch of the seriously brilliant, new-look Roaring Girl Productions website, created by the ever-talented CoQuo:

In the process of designing the new site, we sifted through all the existing materials and I realised I’ve done more than I’d ever known over the past 13 years of RGP. There’s some great material on there and it feels kind of good!

This new site makes it much easier to find archived material and also introduces lots of new materials. All our films and other productions are now available to watch online, free of charge, and with audio description, captions and BSL. We’d welcome your feedback.

With Bedding Out in Edinburgh just abound the corner, here are a few Bedding Out-themed highlights:

Archived Conversations and audio soundbites, with transcripts and BSL.

Article: Summer of 2012: Paralympic legacy and the welfare benefit scandal

Article: Renewing the Social Model of Disability

Links to advice, crisis support, campaigns and resources

Tweet news

I’ve recently been editing the thousands of tweets from April’s Bedding Out, reformatting them for a web archive. The range and depth of the conversations has amazed me, from invitations to MPs to shouting out at Esther McVey, media hatred and countering lies, wearing expressions to witch trials, marathon sleepovers and celebratory brownies, falling through gaps and dying whilst found ‘fit for work’, WCA tips and collective answering back, and much more. It’s an amazing resource of compassion, rage, humour, strategy and eloquence, all in 140 characters. And they’ll be uploaded any day now…

The #beddingout twitter feed will be active again for Edinburgh, so please join the conversation. This week, I was so sorry to lose the wonderful Dawn Willis @Quinonostante as tweetmeister this time around and I want to wish the very best to her son Matt for the speediest recovery. I’m also very pleased to welcome Laura @Ambir, from WOW Petition, stepping into the breech and tweeting from the heart of #beddingout in Edinburgh. Getting exciting now…

Bedding Out in Edinburgh

Friday 9th August 10.00am – Saturday 10th 4.00pm

Hunt & Darton Cafe, 17-21 St Mary’s Street, EH1 1SU

Conversations around the bed Fri 1pm, 5pm, Saturday 10am, 2pm, with BSL interpreter and notetaker

Conversation on Twitter Fri 9pm, Sat noon

@RGPLizCrow  #beddingout

Bedding Out in Edinburgh

My bed will shortly be wending its way to Edinburgh, where I’m hoping to bludge a comfy mattress for a 30-hour version of myBedding Out performance at the Fringe.

Where Salisbury and the livestream became a connecting of disabled people and building of strategy, Edinburgh is set to be a different beast. This time we’ll be soaking in the upbeat feel of the festival to reach people new to the debate. Rick and Jane of WOW Petition will be joining me at the bedside, to spread the word about the impact of cuts and propaganda on disabled people in order to mobilise allies and collect petition signatures along the way.

The fantastic Dawn Willis, tweetmeister, will be joining the project again to coordinate the twitter feed and I hope those who joined in before on twitter will continue to be part of #beddingout.

Three conversations will happen around the bed and two more will run on twitter. I’m just now doing the final edit of twitter conversations from last time, wrestling thousands of tweets into the Bedding Out archive on the RGP website. The range, depth, inspiration, rage and hope contained in the conversations is electric and I’m hoping for that same energy in Edinburgh.

I’ll be bedding out at the Hunt & Darton Café. In this fully functioning installation café that blends art with the everyday, Bedding Out will offer an escape from festival frenzy for a slower paced, more contemplative, chill zone in which I hope to build a sense of cool and determined possibility. Meanwhile, Black Triangle are linking up with Bedding Out,  plotting a performance spin-off, a little less chilled but just as filled with possibility…

It would be great to meet some of you in Edinburgh and via twitter, so please join us if you can and let’s take the conversation and campaign even further.


Bedding Out in Edinburgh

Friday 9th August 10.00am – Saturday 10th 4.00pm
Venue details, conversations schedule and access
@RGPLizCrow  #beddingout

“Strivers not Shirkers”: echoes through the century

I’ve been at the Bristol Records Office recently, trawling through the archives of The Guild of the Brave Poor Things. One of a network of membership groups for disabled people, the Bristol Guild was founded in 1896 and became the first to have its own purpose built headquarters. Bringing together disabled people in a social space, the Guild lay on entertainment, companionship, training, sales of works and apprenticeships.

Membership was pretty exacting: you needed the right impairment (physical or sensory, visible), and enough of it but not too much. It helped a lot to be male. Most of all though, you needed the right moral character, exhibiting the ‘Guild spirit’ and signing up to its ideals. Above all, the Guild set out to prevent disabled people from being a burden on society.

As I read the reams of closely written copperplate from almost 120 years ago, the sort of disabled person you needed to be and the drive towards work for independence, wellbeing and morality, feels so very contemporary. I can hear the Coalition mantra echoing through the century: ‘Strivers not Shirkers’. Now, as then, the aim is that disabled people should overcome and inspire all the way to economic self-sufficiency. Then, as now, employers were not always keen to be a part of the solution.

And yet there’s one critical difference. Then – for all the charitable and tragic overtones – there is a feeling of liberation unfurling. Against a backdrop of poverty, inaccessibility and social exclusion, and long before the welfare state was formed, lives were being transformed. The Guild of the Brave Poor Things was not a self-help group, but certainly it was a place where group identity had a chance to form.

The Bristol Guild (eventually renamed The Guild of the Handicapped) continued right up to 1987 when the building was sold and it re-registered as a charitable trust. The same year, oblivious that the Guild had ever existed, a small group of disabled people held our inaugural meeting for what would become Avon Coalition of Disabled People. We gathered through the generosity of Community Service Volunteers, in the middle of their busy lobby, since Bristol then had not a single public building that was accessible. CSV is just 200 yards up the road from the Guild.