Arts Council Withdrawal of Funding Proves Those With Disabilities Are Still Third Class Citizens

Whilst societal attitudes towards disabilities are improving, there is still a long way to go, and this has been proven in spades this week.Touch Trust is a charity which has been running since 1996, and has been a safe and treasured haven for those with disabilities for the past 19 years. This week, the Arts Council came to the decision that they were moving away from supporting individuals with special needs, and withdrew the funding for the one place that these people can go to and be treated like equals.

About Touch Trust

Touch Trust provides life changing therapy to individuals with conditions such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder as well as those who are unable to see, hear or speak. Using therapy which revolves around touch, the session workers are able to encourage the guests to use their senses which has an amazing response. Using music vibrations allows the deaf to experience music and the encouragement to interact with different materials awakens all sorts of wonderful feelings in the individuals that they would not have been exposed to at home.

Touch Trust provides both one to one therapy as well as group sessions to all who seek to take a trip there once a week and have fun. This has led to friendships being built, calming of violent behaviour and has worked wonders for improving social skills.

Why is Touch Trust so Important?

In recent years, there has been a gradual increase in the levels of acceptance when it comes to those with disabilities. However, there are still very few opportunities for those with disorders such as severe ASD to engage in activities outside of their homes in an environment which has been specifically designed for them. Even then, these spaces are usually focused at improving the quality of life for children diagnosed with such disorders as opposed to adults. Touch Trust has devoted every inch of its space to ensuring that the environment is friendly and enriching in order to ensure that the guests are being constantly stimulated and kept comfortable at all times.

Many of the individuals who attend rely on Touch Trust as part of their weekly routine – it is a safe zone for them, where they can get away from carers who are with them 24/7 – and without it there could be huge consequences for the mental health of all those who frequent the centre. If Touch Trust is forced to close they will be losing the one place that they can go to free themselves from the constraints of their conditions, and will also be losing those that they consider friends.

How Important is Touch Trust for the Families?

Looking after individuals with severe disabilities can be incredibly time consuming and draining on the body. Every waking moment for many of these carers is devoted to ensuring that the individual in their care is looked after and cared for to the fullest extent of their capacity. This often means that jobs have to be sacrificed, and a lot of time is taken away from others in their families, be it children, spouses etc. Touch Trust provides families with the opportunity to take a break to focus on themselves – to buy the food they need for the week, to take their other children to lunch or the Cinema (where they can focus solely on them and give them the much needed attention that they also require), or even to get a haircut. All basic tasks that families without these constraints take for granted.

How Can I Donate?

You can donate to keep Touch Trust open here. Every donation is important and will help to ensure that the staff are able to continue doing the life changing work that they do. Even a minimal amount will go such a long way and could mean the difference between saving this charity or losing it.

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Queen Elizabeth II is Due to Become Britain’s Longest Serving Monarch…And Alex is Ready

When Queen Victoria died on 22nd January 1901, she had been Queen for a remarkable 63 years, 7 months and 2 days. However, this feat is due to be overshadowed by that of her great-granddaughter Elizabeth who, at 5:30pm tomorrow, will take that crown from her and replace her as the longest serving monarch in British history…and Alex can’t wait.

To say that Alex has been a huge supporter of the Queen for her entire life would be an understatement. From the age of 18 months old, it was clear that she had a special affinity with the Queen which manifested itself in her throwing her dummy in front of the Royal carriage in an attempt to stop the procession. She has had a strangely neurotic beef with both Royal babies who she sees as stealing the limelight from her Queen, and has cried with joy at every one of her birthdays that she has been alive for as well as her Golden and Diamond Jubilee’s.

In preparation for tomorrow, Alex has completely outdone her mad, mentally unstable self. She has washed and ironed her Union Jack bedding, which only ever sees daylight for Royal occasions (except those to do with Royal babies), has places her canvas of the Queen in pride of place on her bedroom wall and has her limited edition Queen Elizabeth II ice cream scoop washed, prepped and ready for the big announcement at 5:30pm.

However, she has pushed herself over the edge…and not in a sane, mentally balanced sort of way. After hours of searching round many different stores, she finally found a cake with a crown that….wait for it…she insists looks exactly like the Queen.

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Not only is she super excited about this, as you can tell from the maniacal expression on her face, but she has also convinced herself that our dear Labrador, Willow, has assumed the role of Keeper of the Cake. She has searched high and low to find her a uniform, and has settled on this rather odd combination of children’s dress up and military uniform. Those of you who have seen The Tower of London Dare: THAT Video may recognise the cape.

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I have attempted to point out that the Queen is, in fact a Queen and not a Princess, and so Alex’s cake is flawed from the outset. Her retort, however, was that the likeness of the cake was strong enough to overshadow any issue of title which the cake may have (I thought at this point that mentioning cakes can’t have titles was a moot point) and that “she was Princess Elizabeth once so she won’t mind!” To prove me wrong, she even tweeted a picture of herself with the cake to the Queen herself, as well as several newspapers….

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Has she finally lost the plot? Stay tuned….

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An Open Letter to Katie Hopkins; the Know-it-all who Knows Nothing

Dear Katie,

I became aware of your tweets regarding your opinions on Depression and Alzheimer’s earlier this week when I was made aware of your tweets via a Facebook and Twitter feed which had virtually exploded with outrage at your insensitive, bigoted and frankly quite disgusting comments regarding two of the largest issues of mental health which are affecting people in this country on a daily basis. Usually, I would be quietly outraged about a number of your comments, as your controversial nonsense is expected – you’re the ‘go to girl’ for a heartless and insensitive comment which demeans the very existence of many people not just in the UK, but across the world. However, as an individual who has been suffering with depression for years and recently lost a family member after a decade long battle with Alzheimers, I felt that it was time to speak up. Firstly, I’ll address the comments on depression, and then those on Alzheimers.

Depression is not a ‘holy grail of illnesses’ or ‘the passport to self-obsession’ as you have so crudely alluded on your Twitter feed. It’s isolating, lonely and, contra your super weird opinion that people ‘want depression’, sufferers would give anything for the end. Be that the end of the illness or, in some sadly extreme cases, the end of their lives. I used to be a bubbly, happy individual who had the whole world at her feet and couldn’t wait to experience the life that I had ahead of me. I wanted to experience it all and I vowed to make the most of every single day of my life that I had to live. But then I was hit by a black ball hurtling at me at such speed that I couldn’t dodge it. It hit me. I couldn’t breathe, felt like I was drowning in blackness and I was fighting to push the blackness away – to get it out of me. When I eventually thought I had broken free I was an entirely different person, the real me locked inside my head behind bars screaming to be let free.

Depression is not easy; it’s bloody hard work and every single day is a struggle to get through. Every single morning getting up is a battle with the covers. Not as a result of laziness because you want ‘ten more minutes’, but as a result of the fact that there is a hard wired belief that there is nothing worth getting up for, and you can’t face going through another day of forcing on a smile to convince others that you’re okay – that you’re normal. You’re afraid that the mask will slip, that people will see you for the self-loathing, unbelievably distraught individual that spends hours every single day fighting back the urge to give into the black hole of sadness in her stomach and cry her heart out until the tears won’t come any more. You don’t cry about anything in particular, but for some reason that black hole is constantly there, threatening to expose you for what you truly are; depressed.

Your eating habits are thrown out of sync. You binge regularly, because food all of a sudden is capable of giving you that emotional nourishment that you feel you are lacking from everyone else. We know that in reality it doesn’t work, but that need to feel connected to something is sometimes the only thing which is preventing dark desires from taking over, such as the desire to cut your wrists, swallow that entire bottle of paracetamol that is in the cupboard, or curl up into a ball on the bathroom floor and let the tears flow and flow until you either black out or someone needs to get ready. You then find yourself too unhappy to eat. You don’t feel worthy of the nourishment that the vitamins will give to your body. You’re too weak to move from the spot you’re lying or sitting in to go to the kitchen in search of something to feed yourself, and even if you were capable it would be a pointless exercise as it would be bland and tasteless, followed by a feeling of nausea as the bite you’ve just taken hits your stomach and almost forces your gag reflex into action.

You lose all interest in your appearance. You know you’ve gained weight because of the emotional eating, and that just makes you hate yourself even more. You buy and wear clothes that hide the damage you have done to yourself as a result of overeating so that nobody will look at your appearance in any way which can be perceived as positive – you don’t deserve it, and if you were wearing something more form fitting there is the fear of rejection through hideous comments which prevents you from doing so. You want to be invisible, because when you’re invisible you don’t have to work hard to hide the anguish which is eating you away inside. You stop wearing makeup on a regular basis, despite the fact that you might never have left the house without it. If you do wear it, it’s just enough to cover the signs of maltreatment – the spots which have appeared as a result of the unhealthy oily food, the blemishes which give away the tears which have been shed and the dry, sallow skin which gives away the fact that you’ve barely slept. Your hair is shoved back into a mere ponytail. You don’t even bother to brush it when it’s been washed. You eventually stop caring about the weight gain, and give in to the pity cycle which you have resigned yourself to the notion of being the puppeteer of your life.

You push those that you love away because you can’t bear to admit to them that you’re feeling so hopeless and unimportant. Your moods fluctuate as the veneer begins to crack behind closed doors, and you spend as little time around family as you possibly can. After all, they can see you for who you truly are because they have loved you for your entire life. There is no hiding from them. You flare up with anger when you’ve been challenged, all of those feelings which you have bottled up inside spilling out into what has now become an emotional battlefield. You try to reign it back, but you can’t. You end relationships because you don’t feel you can give your partner what they deserve, despite the fact that they’ve held you in their arms and let you cry just because you needed to.

That was my reality for depression, and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, and anybody who would want to feel like all is lost and be labelled as such is clearly insane. They’re certainly not those who wish to be seen as fashionable or ‘In’. It’s taken me a long time to try and pull myself out, and I’m only just beginning to see life as being one which is worth enjoying and taking advantage of. But I’m lucky – I’m not one of those who are clinically depressed and as such are unlikely ever to find a way to bring themselves out of the endless cycle of despair which is controlling every single decision that they are making in their lives. Not everyone has the same munchausens-esque approach to their lives as you do. As someone who is quite happy to be on the receiving end of bad press and hateful comments, you quite clearly have some serious mental health issues of your own
regarding attention seeking and the need to comment on EVERYTHING.

Just because there has been a 500% increase in people being diagnosed with the illness (as you say) doesn’t mean that it’s being treated as a fashionable condition which doctors are keen to label people with. It’s because campaigns raising awareness of the illness are leading to people who had previously been suffering in silence seeking help. They don’t feel ashamed or afraid any more as society no longer shuns people who have mental health problems in the way that it maybe did twenty or thirty years ago. There is no need to feel ashamed of admitting that you need help, and there is certainly none in being yourself be that a happy, fulfilled individual or one who feels like they have absolutely nothing in the world. After all, there’s an increase in the number of people being diagnosed with early onset cancer, but there is no way that you would even consider of them seeking attention for wanting a ‘fashionable’ illness because that’s something you can’t argue with. It’s there in black and white because it’s a disease that you can see whereas depression isn’t. But just because you can’t see it doesn’t make it less real, life threatening or important. And demeaning people who are struggling with this diagnosis in the way that you have is appalling and for those who are at breaking point, could prompt a dangerous behaviour. Be it harm to themselves or harm to someone else.

As for the Alzheimers comments, there is very little to say on that subject except the fact that the utter drivel which you spouted on that topic was more toxic than any known substance on this planet. How you can so off handedly state that the sufferers should be euthanised, to paraphrase your comments, is utterly inhumane and so hurtful to those who have to watch their parents, grandparents and spouses deteriorate on a daily basis. Because they aren’t entirely gone. You lose them slowly, but these patients never lose their reason for living. My grandmother was diagnosed ten years ago, and passed away last month after an incredibly gruelling journey of regression to childhood. But despite the fact that she forgot where she was, that her husband had died and that she had no recollection of any events which had taken place over the past ten years and much of the period before that, she always knew that she had family who loved her. She talked about us, albeit fleetingly. Every time we would visit her at the care home she was living in, she would have no idea who we were for much of the time, but then a glimmer of recognition would flit across her eye, and for the brief moments that she did recognise her grandchildren and daughter, she was ecstatically happy. Those moments were worth all the hardship for her, and for us. To say that an Alzheimers patient is unaware that they are living is a gross misunderstanding of the illness and its progression.

The decision not to look after her at our home was also one which was taken out of our hands. As a family which is forced to move almost annually as a result of factors outside of our control, it would not be fair to have carted her around with us. It would have been unfair to take her out of an environment which she knew and recognised, and had been so happy in for most of her life. The quality of care that she received at the home she was a resident in was also beyond the standard of anything which she could have received if we had looked after her. She had constant companionship, nurses and doctors who saw to her every health need, she received different types of therapy aimed at slowing the disease and she had people to talk to about things which had occurred in her past which we would have no understanding of. It was the right choice for her, and every decision which we made for her care, was made solely with her in mind. That does not make us bad people and it certainly doesn’t mean that we should have given up on her.

So to finish, it would be my advice to you to either inform yourself fully of everything which you are quite happy to comment. A majority of the issues you comment on, you are so ill informed on that you are in danger of spreading poisonous and dangerous ideas which have the potential to destroy what is left of the humane society that we live in today. They can lead to people harming themselves or others, while you sit safely behind your keyboard or your phone mindlessly talking crap. Just because you have an opinion on something does not make it a truth which people have to ‘get over’ or ‘deal with’. It makes you a sad, pathetic individual who feels the need to belittle others. A sad, pathetic individual who is, actually, wrong when discussing a large number of the ‘truths’ she claims to speak. How someone like you managed to become a ‘voice of the people’ in a newspaper is beyond my comprehension as you are clearly very out of touch. So out of touch, in fact, that many people are wishing that you would in fact be euthanised sooner rather than later so that it puts an end to your idiocy. Everyone has the right to life, regardless of which world they find themselves living in. Be it a regressed world, a depressed world, or a joyful one. One thing is for sure though – you are in no position to judge anyone for the way their life is lived. But before you attempt to apply that yourself, you opened yourself up to judgement the moment you decided to write such heartless and hateful words.

Sincerely,

Someone who knows what they’re talking about

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What Happens When you Substitute Records for Tree Rings

traubeck.com

traubeck.com

If a tree falls in the woods, and there’s nobody around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

This is one of those riddles which kids have been telling each other for years in an attempt to both confuse people and appear smarter than their friends by seemingly having all the answers. As for me, I have absolutely no idea, but I do know what happens when you substitute records for tree rings on a record player. And yes, they do make a sound.

Bartholomaus Traubeck is the individual who first came up with the idea of attempting to translate tree ring data into music by way of using a special record player which uses light sensors to read not only the rings, but also the colour of the wood and the texture. This data is then translated using a special algorithm which, in my opinion, has resulted in breathtakingly haunting music being created. I don’t just appreciate it as a musician either – I appreciate it as a person.

For a taster of the album, entitled Years which Traubeck has put together, you can listen below.

Alternatively, if you’re like me and that 2 minutes and 14 seconds was far too short, you can listen to the entire album below:

 

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Alex: “I’m Going to Blow Myself Away”

Yesterday, London was visited by some particularly strong winds which were literally shaking my house and howling like nothing I have ever heard before. Alex became increasingly intrigued by the wind speed, studying the trees and the fence, and noticed that they were shaking quite violently. I took one look at her, she looked at me and then said “Victoria, I’m going to blow myself away.” I quite literally facepalmed at this point but Alex got off the sofa, fetched my Dad’s Hi-Vis jacket (“because if I blow away, I want the planes to see me”), headed out into the street in broad daylight, spread her arms and waited.

As Alex is literally quite mad, I decided to turn this into an experiment which would enable me to spend an extra ten minutes avoiding coursework, and so set out to determine whether a wind speed of 45mph is strong enough to blow away a tiny human. After all, it is rather amusing, if a little embarrassing.

Alex’s first attempt on the street didn’t work too well, but you can see that she appears to be having a jolly good old time playing outside the front of the house. My mother, who is just to the left of her, you can hear quietly speaking to our dog walker Siobhan, who has become accustomed to Alex’s shenanigans and now ignores her. Alex does things like this on a daily basis, and so people in the street are no longer shocked.

Following this first failed attempt, Alex decided to move into the back garden, where she believed that the wind was blowing stronger. We were actually met with a slither more success, but this was only in the form of the wind blowing her top up slightly, and Alex hadn’t moved a muscle as a result of the wind.

In conclusion then, it is clearly impossible for 45mph winds to move a person, even if they are attempting to ‘catch’ it in an item of clothing.

 

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Does Careless Whisper Really Make Anything Sexy?

I wrote a post similar to this one almost two years ago (again for an older blog), and upon reviewing the videos I just had to share them again.

I can’t remember exactly how this came into being, but as it appears to be a huge search topic on YouTube, we most likely took the idea from there and then decided to test the theory that Careless Whisper makes anything sexy in our own weird way.

1. Does Careless Whisper Make Watering the Plants Sexy?

The first test that Alex and I did was to see if watering the plants could be made any sexier by playing Careless Whisper.

2. Does Careless Whisper Make Mowing the Lawn Sexy?

Sticking with the outdoor theme, Alex and I then decided to see if mowing the law could be made any sexier by adding a soundtrack.

3. Does Careless Whisper Make Eating Cereal Sexy?

For the third and final test, Alex and I decided to move indoors in order to see whether eating cereal from a box could be made any sexier.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I’m actually very doubtful that Careless Whisper makes anything any sexier – in fact, I think it probably makes it a whole lot more disturbingly hilarious than attractive. However, things like this are always subjective and you may, yourselves, find that Careless Whisper does actually make everything a whole lot sexier.

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The Tower of London Dare: THAT Video

A while back, I wrote a post about the fact that I literally can’t take my sister anywhere without her threatening to do something completely stupid or outrageous. One of the occasions that I mentioned involved a trip to the tower of London, where she sported a cape and a Beefeater hat for the entire duration of the visit.

Whilst cleaning up my facebook page and removing posts relevant to an older blog that I have but no longer use, I came across this video of Alex post Tower of London visit. Again, it proves that Alex can go literally nowhere without causing a scene or making a fool of herself. She can’t even run with a lollipop without choking. And she wasn’t even eating it.