At YDRF we have launched a new podcast to raise awareness of disabled people’s lived experience of disability hate. In the first episode, recorded in May 2022, Olivia sits down with Flick, a disability rights activist, to discuss her views and experiences of disability hate. They talk about the importance of social model language, Flick’s experience and activism in York as a disabled person, and the detrimental impact of the council’s Blue Badge ban in the city centre on attitudes towards disabled people.
In November 2021, the York City Council voted to exclude Blue Badge holders from the foot streets area of the city. Flick’s recent activism has dealt heavily with the impact of this on the disability community. In the discussion of the Blue Badge ban, Flick states,
“[The council] did it initially under the premise of social distancing. Then, it morphed into the need for café licensing, under Covid emergency powers, and then all of a sudden, now it’s the need to erect hostile vehicle mitigation barriers. So, counter-terror became the reason. So, you can forgive us disabled people for thinking that any excuse will do, and this has all come along very conveniently.”
The council’s Blue Badge ban has had an enormous impact on the disabled community in York, not only physically limiting people’s access to the city centre but contributing to a societal attitude that treating disabled people in this way is acceptable. Flick addresses this when she shares,
“The Blue Badge ban was really just the beginning… it feels like the attitude in the city centre is ‘what are you doing here?’ … It sets a culture where it’s fine to dismiss disabled people.”
The passion Flick has for her work is demonstrated not only in her working in disability services for over 30 years, but her willingness to organise disability events, confidently work to hold the council accountable, and share her own experiences on the difficulties she’s faced as a visually impaired, wheelchair user.
On the ways she has personally been affected by disability hate, Flick discusses how hate, no matter how subtle, can be very damaging.
“I think what people really need to understand is disability hate crime – even if it is just ‘name-calling’ can be absolutely devastating for individuals.”
Additionally, she encourages people to consider how subtle hostilities and attitudinal barriers can be just as dangerous and limiting as institutional ones. She discusses an idea called ‘internalised impression’ and its relevance to the disability community. She explains,
“When you’re constantly faced with negativity and discriminatory attitudes towards you, you internalize that and start to think “well, maybe I’m not good enough?” “Maybe I don’t deserve to be out and about with everyone else?”
Flick, alongside other disability activists and volunteers, has been pushing forward a ‘reverse the ban’ movement to urge the council to reverse their decision. The campaign has generated interest in local and national media and garnered support from many York residents and local businesses.
This episode was not only educational and inspiring, but also sobering and as Flick reminds us,
“We need to do better as a society.”
We are immensely grateful not only for the passion and vulnerability Flick brings to her activism, but for sharing her thoughts and experiences. And thank you, for reading and listening as well.
If you or anyone you know has been targeted with disability hate, please know that there are several resources available to you.
For reporting or support following an incident, visit our disability hate webpage for a list.
Find out more about Reverse the Ban and how to get involved with the campaign.