Chief Sender of Hugs, Faye, named on the Disability Power 100 List

Chief Sender of Hugs, Faye, here!

In yet another mad turn of events, I was due to go for afternoon tea at the House of Lords today to celebrate being named as one of 100 influential people on this year's Shaw Trust Disability Power List 100.

Having looked through the list, it's a true honour to have my face in amongst so many brilliant, talented people who are excelling in their own fields.

When I received an email to say that I'd been included in the list, I actually responded in the first instance to query it.

I wasn't sure I was deserving of a place on a list of people with disabilities. While there was a significant period of time where I was more severely ill and would have referred to myself as disabled, more recently, while still affected by my health, I have on the whole been doing much, much better. I haven't felt disabled.

Having built my life and business in a certain way, I am able to work 4 days a week for example and feel limitations as a result of my health far, far less than I used to. I worried that by accepting a place on the Disability Power List 100, I might be taking the space of someone more fitting than myself.

The Shaw Trust kindly assured me though that my nomination was evaluated by an independent judging panel and that they recognised that I, through BearHugs, have been influential in dispelling the myths around disability and also in providing jobs for people with disabilities. It is for these reasons that I’d been given a place on the list. I’m never one to turn down an opportunity to talk about accessible employment so I gratefully accepted and RSVP-ed yes to the event at the House of Lords today.

Ironically after declaring that I have fewer access needs these days, I actually wasn’t able to attend the event after all due to my health. I have been having a bit of an unexpected blip these last few weeks, which hasn’t made getting to the office realistic, and has definitely meant I'm not able to travel long distances when I have a few hours to play with each day before needing to return to full rest. The exact nature of fluctuating chronic illness that I bang on about all the time when I talk about the need for flexible, remote, accessible employment opportunities.

Reflecting on this, I realised that the biggest part of the reason I very rarely feel disabled these days is that my health has improved a lot. A smaller part of the reason though, is that in creating a business and a job for myself that works on my terms, I have removed a lot of the typical barriers I might come across on a day-to-day basis elsewhere. In my own little bubble, I don't feel disabled, but if I were to attempt to work in another role that has not been built specifically around my needs, or if were I to attempt activities that I have come to terms with avoiding because of the impact they would have on my health, this would most likely not be the case.

This realisation has reignited the fire in my belly to continue to shout about the need for and to create employment opportunities that are flexible and working environments that are accessible. The smallest changes and adaptations really can be immensely powerful and all employers have opportunities to make them. Small changes can be the difference between someone feeling disabled or not. And that’s not a small thing at all.

In true BearHugs spirit, I wasn't going to let the fact that I wasn't able to be physically present at the House of Lords today stop me, so I set up my own little afternoon tea at home with Ted instead. We watched Gilmore Girls, ate tiny sandwiches and had a nap. It was wonderful.

If you get a minute do have a read of the Disability Power List 100, there are some amazing people on there… You can find it here.