Just because I’m an older woman with a disability doesn’t mean I have to keep quiet

From: June Knight, Southwater Road, St Leonards

On Tuesday, November 13, I and another female friend attended the Advocacy Training course at Victoria Hotel, run by SeAp organisation (seap.org.uk).

We are both women in our late 50s. We both have disabilities and serious illness from it. We have both gone through life and loss and personal challenges.

I come from a long line of traditional working class women of the community, hard grafting, hard working and resilient. My mother was strong willed, loving, caring and ethical. When there were large families, poverty and no NHS or care system my grandmother was ‘seeing them in’ and ‘seeing them out’, meaning she would attend and assist when there was a birth, and she would attend and help lay the body out when there was a death.

I was taught as a woman to expect life, expect death and manage everything in-between. And we both have.

My friend and I between us have managed deaths and disabilities in children and special needs. We have had partners and parents through serious accidents and progressive illnesses and deaths. We have managed brain tumours, cancers, Parkinson’s disease, I have managed the dementia in both parents over many years, their deterioration, their deaths and funerals.

We have suffered the abuses and inappropriate attention of being born female. The pressure on us and the demands to meet this mad, mad world and manage it is intolerable at times, but like many women we see it through. There is no recognition, no respect and no reward. If we get a quiet few minutes at the end of the day when we can have a cup of tea without interruption, that is as good as it gets.

Having a bath on your own without interruption, well that is a never.

At the Advocacy Training session we met many wonderful fellow disabled, carers and relatives of disabled people. We met older people with adult children with special needs and disabilities. The couple had decided the man would come along while the wife/mother stayed at home to look after their son. A rare day out for at least one of them.

We met a woman whose husband had a brain tumour and was going through surgery. They were very much in love. Touch and go as to whether it will be successful.

We met older people offering their services now they had brought up their families, had their careers and were now retired. Still going on and offering their services for free.

It is therefore, very upsetting to me, that an attendee who has neither disability, or been a carer or had any experience but wishes to come alongside, moaned about the proliferation of women and the older end.

During the event he posted online and moaned. What should be done about the older women? When a friend of his suggested that maybe ‘older women should be dissuaded from being advocates and carers, the moaning attendee agreed.

Women and disabled need to be removed and replaced by young men. How upsetting can it get?

Move along sonny. And don’t start or speak until you have done it. And been abused, rejected and discriminated for it. When you have been trapped 24/7 with a disability or severely dependent disabled person and there is no getting out and nobody coming in and services are none existent, and you have no life for years, then you can talk.

It’s an insult and distressing on top that this is the only objection and suggestion of the left, that they need to exclude and dissuade the disabled, the women, the mothers and older women from being from being carers and their own advocates.

Finally, if disabled, carers or older (0ver 50) women do go out it is soon demonstrated by groups, pubs, restaurants and places that ‘you are not wanted’ to your face. Not the kind of people we want. Live it. Then you can talk about it.