A Meeting Of The Tribes


Do You Wanna Be In OUr Gang

Do You Wanna Be In OUr Gang

Loved the last members group.

We started off with a discussion about volunteering. This was for the benefit of a new member who joined to find out about this.

I noted a lack of clarity about what we do if not who we do it for or why we do it.

DK was a little late in arriving and had his leg pulled very gently through the use of English expressions that he might not know – “Put wood in hole”, “Born in a barn”. He took it in good grace before saying what volunteering meant to him, how it had helped bring him out of himself, develop confidence, challenge his isolation. The new member really responded to what he was saying – came alive through a shared experience.

We had openness in the room and it wasn’t because DK hadn’t closed the door behind him.

We could now start talking about who we are, how we define, the labels we wear on our lapels and importantly how we don’t define. We might define through a learning disability. We might name ourselves as depressives. But we might not share the common calling ‘disabled people’.

We had a bit more pulling the door to before we got down to our common ground. Discrimination. In the warming room we heard why we might not want to take the language on…. “I do not want to say I am worse than you, as bad as you, as glorious as you”. “I don’t want to put myself on the same pedestal as the patronised more members”. We got ourselves deep in the murk of the attitudinal barriers. We explored. We asked who the members of MCIL were rather than members of the members group – not necessarily the same thing. MCIL members own, MCIL members run MCIL. Ownership is important. You get it by being qualified. To qualify you have to be a full member. To be a full member you have to be a disabled person living in Merton. The question is do you want to be in our gang?

How to get there. Recognising your impairment is the first stage. If you have been treated badly because of your impairment. If you have been treated unfairly. If your impairment for instance is not bad enough to get you treatment or services then you may very well feel you are being discriminated against. If you are denied education or work because of your impairment you can also claim to be discriminated against. If you are discriminated against on account of your impairment and that discrimination is rooted in society then welcome to our gang – you are a disabled person. Stop denying it. it doesn’t do you any favours.

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