Disability Advice Winter 2016 statement
Disability Advice was devised and developed from an idea I had in 2001 for a UK wide user contributed review and support site. The current site was created and funded by me late in 2011. For most of the life of the project I have been the only person working on Disability Advice.
The only other people that have been involved are a couple of contributors, Dan Bohea who I commissioned to design the site, the Brighton Area Drupal Association (web development) community who provided some technical advice and Toby Buckle who has mentored me while creating the current site.
As you may have noticed over the last couple of years the development of the disability advice site has slowed. This is because I have not been feeling well enough to work on the site and not had a safe home to work from. This is not excusing the lack of work on the site, it is just statement of what has happened. Later in this statement I will outline what needs to happen next.
Events from the last 3 years
The first thing I would like to mention is that I've had generally worsening health and mobility over the past couple of years which has had an impact on the amount of effort I can put into the site. This has been made worse by the other events that have occurred.
When I created the current site I was unemployed and trying to find part time work that I could sustain without making my health worse. I was willing to try any help that I could to fill in the application forms to get work. Unfortunately one of the organisations that was supposed to help was A4e. I wasted lots of time with them for no help. They decided to cancel any appointments I booked for help and requested that I sent in progress reports regularly so that they could report to their employers. This extra pressure and with the lack of support made searching for work even more stressful and difficult. I had to resort to contacting my MP to get them leave me alone and to apply for work on my own without support.
This coincided with 2 new freeholders bying properties surrounding my flat. They are both unpleasant characters that decided I was a good target bully. I was also starting to experience more problems with people parking on the pavement (blocking me in or out of my flat). Over th past 3 years there was a noticeable change in the type of people in Brighton. The new people I met in town would walk into me glare at me or be abusive /aggressive. This was happening dozens of times a day.
As a result of the constant low level bullying, dealing with the DWP and A4e I started getting depressed. To be honest the continual rain during 2012 didn't help. This ruined my confidence and made working on the site incredibly difficult. By June 2013 things got so bad that I finally had to go to my doctor to get support.
Early 2014 I managed to get 2 dream jobs. The first was regular part time work for Blue-bag as a web developer the second was as a trainer for the Fed, Centre for Independent living. Working on Disability Advice had helped me get both jobs and a friend helped me fill in the application forms for the training job. This had the effect of releasing me from the DWP but reducing the free time I had to work on the site.
Soon after getting the new jobs in 2014 noisy new tenants moved into the flat below me. In April 2014 I was threated in my own flat by one of my new neighbours. The threat was directly related to my disability and therefore reported as disability hate crime. It wasn't taken seriously by the police and things got worse until I had to call in the community safety team. To make things worse I was still being bullied and was getting lots of unsolicited advice on social media. At this point all non-urget work stopped on the site and social media. By the summer It didn't feel safe for me to be in my flat on weekends and I was spending as much time as possible away. The bully and abuse didn't stop until after I had managed to move out of Brighton in 2015.
Late 2014 I got a wonderful assistance dog from Canine Partners that helped me survive all the upheaval and actually improved the behaviour of some of the people in Brighton. She also managed to introduce me to some great new people.
In July 2015 I moved into a bungalow where I now feel safe. Unfortunately the bungalow needs a lot of adaptations to make it properly accessible. This is taking up a lot of time and energy at the moment and will cause major upheaval early this year while the work is being done.
As mentioned above now have 2 jobs, regular part time work as a web developer and occasional work as a trainer.
I'm also trying to catch up on over 2 years of emails and content updates for the site. I have kept up to date with the all major updates but there are 2 years' worth of general maintenance and improvements that need to be done.
This along with looking after and walking my assistance dog makes me very busy, so please be patient I'm trying to catch up with all the emails and website maintenance.
I have a long list of jobs I want to do to the site including:
- Tidying up the site theme
- Looking into improving all the sections of the site
- Increase the social side of the site
It was clear when I started working on this project that it was going to be huge job and take more time, energy and skills than I have. The past few years have shown that it's beyond my ability to continue the work on the site alone. I need to decide over the next few months how to progress. Some of my possible options are:
- Get someone else to regularly help or better still get together a small team of maintainers.
- Transfer it to a non profit organisation that can provide the resources that the project deserves.
- The last and my least favourite option is to close the project and site down.
Unfortunately it's not viable for me to continue working on the project on my own.
I would like to thank
There are few people /organisations that I would like to thank for their help in setting up the site and support getting me through the past couple of years.
|Person /Organisation||Thank you for|
|Toby Buckle||@Hazelbranch||Mentoring /Blog articles|
|Brian Seaman||@BrianMSeaman||https://www.facebook.com/accessibleoutlook||Mentoring /support|
|The Fed Centre for independent living||@TheFedOnline||https://www.facebook.com/The-Fed-Centre-for-Independent-Living-81448309603||Providing support and training work|
|Canine Partners||@canine_partners||https://www.facebook.com/caninepartners||Providing my wonderful assistance dog|
|Blue Bag Ltd||Providing me with regular part time work|
|Brighton Area Drupal Association||@BADAssUK||Advice when setting up this version of the site|
|Dan Bohea||@dan_bohea||Designing this version of the site at short notice|
|HisBe||@hiSbe_Food||https://www.facebook.com/hiSbeFood/||Being a safe place and having great staff|
I would also like to thank all my friends especially Greg, Tony, Lauren, Fran, Aimee and Mike for being a great friends and sticking with me during the rough times.
Special thanks goes to Canine Partners for providing me with an assistance dog that has kept me going and alive.