Disabled, vulnerable person Ian Oakley Testimonial

STORY: Covid-19 EXCLUSIVE: Disabled, vulnerable person speaks out

“It was an absolute pleasure to give Journo Jess a testimonial on her article she wrote about me  – “Disabled, vulnerable person speaks out”. The origins in this story came from the newly formed Coventry Covid-19 Mutual Facebook group and I answered the request after checking Jessica’s excellent CV on her website.

There were two reasons for doing this story apart from fitting the profile – firstly early on in the Covid-19 crisis it was pretty clear vulnerable and disabled persons were not top priority and secondly Jessica would not be aware of the wider issues in the UK, which contribute towards this.

I was presented a series of questions but insisted on a brief chat by messenger video so we could get to know each other better. We then agreed on the time to conduct the actual interview which went well, but unfortunately the gremlins crept in and no video was recorded. But these things happen and if anything, it helped when we did the second take the next day, by then I got to know Jessica and it was very relaxed.

I was more than happy for Jessica to put her professional shine on the interview, but over the weeks to follow the event, things in my personal life just kept happening – some good, some bad – which just demonstrated what a challenge Covid-19 is on disabled persons who can live a very independent life on their own with very little support. I was also determined it would not be a “sob” story. I don’t want to be patronised, I want to continue to be a valued member of the community and to inspire.

When I got the final draft, I was generally happy, but wanted to add some bits, because disabled persons in the UK have really been hit by austerity measures in the UK in the last years. Proposals by the same government to tackle Covid-19 and make all citizens all-inclusive were coming across as a sticking plaster job. This was my opportunity to get the message across and I was extremely pleased how the finished article covered those issues, plus Jessica weaved in some lovely stories to demonstrate all is not bad.

And to add to her professionalism, the abandoned first take audio was salvaged, so there was an EXCLUSIVE Sneak Peak days before the publication of the final article. I’ve shared the article with friends, family, and other disability organisations and it has been very well received.

I cannot contain my excitement on how well this project turned out. I also sent a copy of it to my newly elected Member of Parliament, Zarah Sultana, and she had read with interest. To me – personally – this was a huge opportunity for me to tell my part of my story – Jessica said you could write a book about me – and I would work with her at the drop of a hat. She is a friend for life, and I will do anything to support her going forward as a journalist. Hopefully when Covid-19 has been banished we will meet up in Coventry City Centre for a natter!!”

– Coventry resident, Ian Oakley