2016: The Year I found my voice

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Hello dear neglected blog.  Unfortunately, it has been a while since I last wrote.  This is due in no small part to the fact that I  managed to get flu proper which knocked me for six for a few weeks.  Fortunately, I’m now well and truly back on the mend and so I return to my blog, amongst other things.

It seems appropriate as the year draws to a close to reflect on my experiences of 2016.  If I had to summarise it in one theme or sentence, 2016 was the year I found my voice.  Prompted by events surrounding Brexit, I decided that this was my ‘now or never’ moment and felt that it was the time to finally write about my own lived experiences of disability, or forever hold my peace!

Since then I’ve written on a number of things, with the blog hitting the headlines after events at the Cambridge Folk Festival and a subsequent open letter.  Surprisingly, I’ve not bought tickets to the Folk Festival this year!

I hope that the blog has been interesting and useful to read.  Feedback I’ve had suggests so, which is great.  If by sharing my own experiences it helps to raise issues and provoke thought, then for me, it’s all worthwhile.  That’s not to say that we’ll always agree dear reader, but I hope we can engage in discussion and debate, learning from each other along the way.

Finding my voice has underlined for me the importance of clear communication and dialogue to address social issues, and those around disability in particular.  In the challenging times we face, collaboration to find solutions to the difficult matters we face becomes all the more important.  Linked to that, one of the great things during this year has been serving as a trustee for a couple of charities and working to set up a regional group.  I’m passionate about charity work and what I have learned as a trustee has provided an invaluable insight into some of the issues third sector organisations face.

Whilst my experience is but one of many, I’d encourage those of you who have the opportunity to sit as a trustee or in other representative positions to grab it with both hands.  This is especially the case if you come from a group that is traditionally under represented in board room situations.  I’ve now found myself in demand due to the value of my own lived experience and the perspective that this offers.  I’m always glad to be of service and hopefully make a positive difference in the process.

The flip side of having a voice is the ability to listen, and listen well.  This has been one of the great things my counselling training has taught me.  Being able to listen well is fundamental to good communication, especially when it involves dealing with difficult issues.  Here’s to more good listening next year too.

Looking ahead to 2017 there are both challenges and opportunities.  Lets all  find and use our voices so we can work together to achieve progress and help the world work for us all.  As neither Fran nor I have sent Christmas cards this year (donating the money to charity…) may I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2017.

Chris


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About the Author

Chris Whitaker was born and grew up in Cheshire, arriving in the world with cerebral palsy after a complex childbirth. Apparently, he was lucky to be here at all and has tried to make the most of life ever since! Chris has worked in the third sector for a few years now and is also a charity trustee. Making a positive difference every day is what drives him and he gets to see the impact the third sector makes. Chris has also been able to use his own lived experience as a disabled person to make an input into his working life.

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