Author Archives: Philippa Willitts

British freelance writer and proofreader.

Disabled Access at Music Festivals in the UK

This was originally published on DisabledGo, which is now AccessAble. This article does not seem to be online since that change so I am reproducing it here. 

The sun is shining, there are clouds in the sky… where better to be than in a remote field, veggie burger in hand, listening to live music in the open air? 

Whether you prefer the vastness of a huge event like Glastonbury or somewhere more intimate, there are festivals to suit every mood and preference. Campaigns like Attitude is Everything and Stay Up Late work hard to ensure that Deaf and disabled people can attend live music events, but what are festivals really like for disabled attendees? Is accessibility provision good or will you be stranded without the ability to charge your chair or get up close to the acts?

Katharine, from East Sussex, attended GuilFest last year. She told me that, as a wheelchair user, she often feels that “wheelchairs are an afterthought”. Being aware of the potential difficulties, Katharine telephoned in advance to get an idea of what to expect, but found that, sometimes, the promises made do not materialise:

“GuilFest had built two wheelchair platforms, the one for their main stage was lovely and right by accessible toilet facilities. However, the act I had gone to see was on the second stage. 

“I had been assured there would be a platform for that stage too. There was; it was raised about 5 inches from the ground and miles from the stage. We found someone to complain to and they put the wheelchairs in front of the barrier when relevant act came on. 

“So, that was an unusually good experience.” 

This year, at Glastonbury Festival, there was a Disability Field, which offered somewhere to charge up electric wheelchairs, as well as alternative therapies and information and support.

Outsiders, a charity with a presence in Glastonbury’s Disability Field, reported that, “Over a number of years, Outsiders has received regular feedback from disabled festival goers – many of whom see the support that the Disability Field offers as the only way that they manage to attend the festival.” 

Accessing the wider events, fields and stages still caused problems for many, however.

There are some common themes: these events often take place in large fields, sometimes on steep hills, which can present barriers to participation in themselves. Manoeuvring across grass can be difficult – moreso if it becomes mud over the course of rainy days and lots of trampling! There will be crowds of people, which some disabled people find difficult to manage, and music will be loud, with few truly quiet areas to escape.

Every event is different, though, so we’ve pulled together the accessibility information for a range of upcoming music festivals this summer. 

I was pleased to find that many of the festivals I have been looking at are making a real effort at improving accessibility and making information easily available. So, while the landscapes may be tricky to navigate, positive steps are being taken, for example:

  • V Festival and Bestival provide charging points for electric wheelchair and scooter users
  • Almost all of the festivals have viewing platforms for wheelchair users and other disabled people who cannot be in a crowd; only Bestival doesn’t have any platforms while some, such as Tramlines, don’t provide them for all stages
  • Reading Festival, V Festival and Bestival have separate, accessible campsites for disabled attendees
  • Festival No 6 and Kendal Calling have information provided in different formats on their websites
  • Each of the nine festivals offers a free ticket for a disabled person’s carer or PA to attend.

Some events go further still, for instance V Festival offers secure refrigerators to store medication and has a Changing Places toilet. 

Gerry Bucke from Chartwell – a specialist insurance provider and advocate for the disabled community – believes that these advances will make festival season far more open to disabled music fans. 

“The improvements to festival accessibility this summer show that the organisers have an interest in attracting disabled fans to their events. Attitude is Everything found that events following their best-practice guidelines had a boost of 59% in disabled ticket sales over just 12 months, which shows that this makes business sense, too!”

There is still a way to go. None of these nine festivals offers BSL interpreters or live captioning, although some do install hearing-aid loop systems, and many do not warn of impending strobe lighting. Wheelchair charging points – described to me as ‘essential’ by numerous people during my research – are only rarely provided, and site shuttle buses, to help people with limited mobility to get around, could benefit a lot of these events.

Progress in accessibility is great, but many of us are impatient for more. 

Blog post pricing special offer

A notepad on a desk

A notepad on a desk

This sale has now expired. However, don’t despair. There is another special offer for you here.

When B2B or B2C clients are looking for a freelancer to write blog posts for them, they don’t just want a couple of one-off articles. Generally, they want one or two a week on an ongoing basis, as this makes the most sense when blogging.

Blogging offers a myriad of benefits for all businesses. Regular new content keeps Google keen, while providing extensive written information adds new conversational keywords to their website content and ongoing posts provide content that can attract buyers, answer prospects’ questions and create a sense of recognition or familiarity.

Because of the importance of ongoing new blog content, I recently created some packages for new clients to choose from when they hire me to write their blog. These packages are:

  • The Daisy Package: 5 x 600-word blog posts per month – £540
  • The Tulip Package: 5 x 600 – 1,000-word blog posts per month – £980
  • The Rose Package: 10 x 600-word blog posts per month – £1060
  • The Sunflower Package: 10 x 600 – 1,000-word blog posts per month – £1850

These are already at a discount when compared to buying blog posts individually. But, until the end of June 2019, I am going to discount them further! You’re welcome.

So, if you are a new client and you hire me to create blog content for you until the end of June, pick the package that suits you best and take off a further 15% discount for your first order. If you are interested in this special offer, contact me and we will make some exciting plans.

Notes on March

Cherry blossom

Cherry blossom

I sometimes wonder whether I should populate my blog with updates on how work is going. After all, it gives readers and potential clients an idea of what I’m up to.

So, I’m giving it a try this month and will see how it goes.

A particularly interesting part of March’s work was proofreading two books for a French agency. The books had been translated from French and I was proofreading the resulting translation. They were grammatically very good but needed some work on occasional areas of wording that didn’t sound quite right. As I have a degree in French Studies I have done my fair share of translation so am familiar with the way it works and the problems and challenges it can cause, so I felt at home fixing these texts.

March also saw the end of a long-term mentoring relationship that I had had with a client who was a keen writer and wanted mentorship on writing and some personal issues that we had in common. We had worked together for several years and the time came for us to part ways. It was quite sad to see them go, but also a proud moment for me that this client was able to move on to new things.

I also had enquiries about being a disability sensitivity reader for an upcoming book. That is not confirmed yet but should be an interesting project if it goes ahead.

Other than that, I have been writing weekly / twice-weekly blog posts for a range of companies that recognise the benefit of ongoing blogging but don’t have the time or expertise to do it themselves. These are usually focused on either tech / digital marketing or health / disability, which keeps things different and interesting while remaining in my areas of specialism.

Finally, my weekly column at Global Comment has seen me cover Brexit, a Tory leadership election, LGBT teaching in schools and the social model of disability.

Special offer for Equal Pay Day: freelance writing, proofreading and social media management

A woman wearing a hijab applauds

This sale has now expired. However, don’t despair. There is another special offer for you here.

This weekend marks the date when Equal Pay Day takes place: it is used to signify the last day of the year that a woman would receive pay, when taking the gender pay-gap into account.

Enjoy this (NSFW) video:

It is important to remember, when noting this day, that today is the day after which averaged-out women work for free. In fact, Black women and disabled women and other minority groups get even less equity in their workplaces and white women do considerably better than BAME women.

Because of this, I want to encourage the world of work to do better. And I believe that one path towards “better” is having women at the top.

So, from right now until 31st December 2018 – the time women will be working for free according to Equal Pay Day – I will give a 10% discount on all work for any company that has a female Managing Director, C-Suite member or Chairperson.

If you would like to take me up on this, reference this post to prompt me to discount the 10% on your next invoice. Include a link to your company structure and the named woman or women and I will be glad to make a start on your work!

This applies until the end of the year, after which normal pricing will resume. It is valid for both new and existing customers, because I’m a good egg, and you can take a look at my pre-discount pricing here. You can’t mix this with any other offer. To find out more or request some work, get in touch today.

Epic August Special Offer

It is no longer August so this particular special offer has, sadly, expired. However, there’s another freelance writing discount for you to enjoy here.


More and more, I see that my clients are looking for longer-form content for their blogs. Whereas 500-word posts used to be the norm, now clients are asking me to write content that is 1,500 words or more.

special offer design over gray background vector illustration

There is certainly a benefit to this. With longer-form blog posts, you can incorporate far more information and detail than you would if you only had 500 words to play with. You can take a really deep dive into your topic and demonstrate your knowledge and expertise to your clients and prospects. It will also have an SEO benefit, with long-tail keywords and snippets of searchable information inevitably making their way into the longer articles.

So, I’ve decided to make it easier for business owners who are looking to invest in some longer-form content but are yet to take the leap. For August 2018 only, I am going to take £100 off the fee of a 1,000-1,500-word article for any new client, so that it is 33% off.

My normal rates for a 1,500-word blog post would be £300 so, this month only, it will drop to £200. You can buy a maximum of two.

If you are interested in finding out more, get in touch. The offer’s good til the end of August 2018 or until demand gets overwhelming. It is for new clients only and you will need to choose between this offer and this one to see which works best for you.

Special offer for new clients

Piles of coins with plants growing out of them

Piles of coins with plants growing out of them

You can have brilliant ideasbut if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” – Lee Iacocca

Everybody loves a discount and, if you are looking for some commercial copywriting, you’ve just found one.

I offer blog post creation services (one of the best ways to market your business and get the word out), as well as website copywriting, and I write eBooks, white papers, press releases and case studies for clients.

I have been in this business for years and I can create content that will attract attention and new customers, while providing you with great stuff to share on social media and attract that gorgeous SEO juice. I specialise in writing about digital marketing, health and disability and women’s issues, but I have written for companies as diverse as those selling garden furniture to those selling car mats.

My fees are public – I don’t believe in misleading anybody – but, for the first time, I am going to offer a 20% discount for any new client’s first writing purchase. You might want a single blog post or 20, a press release or an entire book, but no matter what you need, I will discount it by 1/5.

This is a bit of an amazing special offer so it might only be available in the short-term. But as long as this post is up, so is the offer.

If you are interested in finding out more, get in touch.

Tattoo proofreading: preventing disasters before they happen!

Tattoos can be beautiful, glorious representations of art or complex emotions, carefully applied to our skin by specialists who take pride in their art.

They can also be drunken mistakes carved out after midnight in Ibiza, leading to embarrassment and cover-ups at a later date.

If you are planning a new tattoo and it will involve text, let me help you to make sure you don’t get anything disastrous inked into your skin permanently. Let me check the spelling, the punctuation, and the word order to ensure you go into the artist’s studio equipped to be given the perfect inking.

Find out more about tattoo proofreading and how much it costs (virtually nothing, actually!) here. Prevention is better than a cure. Or, in this case, prevention is better than laser treatment or a big black cover-up that’s usually a panther.

New proofreading services listed on the website

I spend so much of my life creating content for other people’s websites that I frequently neglect my own. Weeds start to grow and I put post and page ideas on a list that is ignored for weeks and months on end. Then, one day, I get myself together and remind myself that this little corner of the interwebs is my connection to you.

The whole point is to let you know that there are problems I can solve, and when I write about them here, you become aware that you can get help with this stuff.

Basically, I’m one of those people who spots typos on menus and rages when apostrophes are added to grocers’ signs and the sides of lorries when they’re not supposed to be there. I’m not quite Lynne Truss, who stood outside a cinema with an apostrophe on a stick to correct a film title, but I’m not far off.

This is why I’m the perfect proofreader for you. I spot the stuff other people miss and, because I enjoy proofreading so much, I don’t see it as an unfortunate add-on that I have to do to subsidise writing; my enthusiasm comes across in the quality of the work that I return to you, and my prices are affordable and competitive.

If you are interested in having any work proofread, whether it’s a three-word tattoo or a 100,000-word novel, drop me a line and we can talk about what you need.

Something interesting…

After all the fun we had making the A Little Bird Told Me podcast, when Lorrie then went on maternity leave, I felt a podcast-shaped hole in my life. So I set up Freelance Confidence where you can find podcast episodes, blog posts and an email newsletter with top freelancing advice.

But after choosing to take a medium- to long-term break from the Freelance Confidence podcast, I decided that if I could find a niche that was not at all work related, it could function nicely as a side-hobby and hopefully I would associate it more with fun again.

So I thought about what I look for in a great podcast (for I have a serious podcast habit!) and decided I preferred interview formats to solo shows, and that my main criteria was that a podcast, its topic or its guests and host should be interesting.

It was that complicated. And it was that simple.

So, the Interesting People Podcast was born. I have had the time of my life interviewing people who have pushed themselves to pursue immense achievements, and others who have daily lives that are fascinating for others to hear about.

And, if you’re interesting, apply to be on the show! Other guests have said it was a great experience, so listen to a few episodes and fill in the form to apply.

Bad attitudes do not cause disability any more than good attitudes guarantee health

This article was originally published on The Independent in August 2012

An ‘inspirational’ photo has been making its way around Twitter and Facebook. The photograph is of Oscar Pistorius, a disabled athlete, running with a small, disabled girl. The caption, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude”, is a quote from Scott Hamilton, a former figure skater who is also a cancer survivor. There are others, too, in the same vein, including one of a small child walking with prosthetic legs and the caption, “Your excuse is invalid”.

For many disabled people, myself included, this kind of inspiration porn is tiresome at best, and damaging at worst. Using a snapshot of disabled people as a tool to convey a message to, primarily, non-disabled people, involves playing on stereotypes and assumptions. It removes a person’s humanity and individuality in order to present them in a way that will goad a non-disabled person to buck up their ideas. It does not matter who the people in these photographs are, as long as their representation is enough to guilt non-disabled people into action.

Their use of prosthetics is the only thing about them that is of interest in these images, and it automatically turns them into some kind of superhero. Along with the captions, the implication is supposed to be, “Wow, they have a great attitude!”.

It is a massive assumption. The photographs are of disabled people doing things, that is all. And yet a seemingly endless stream of non-disabled people find them profound enough to repost on their own social network feeds. While this kind of ‘cripspiration’ might, at first glance, appear to be harmless it actually does nothing at all to advance the cause of disabled people. We do not exist to be living, breathing models of inspiration and presenting us in this way is objectifying and reductive.

What’s more, as long as non-disabled people can happily dismiss disability as a matter of attitude, they then have no need to start tackling the real causes of disability such as inaccessibility and discrimination.

That disabled woman who complained because she couldn’t attend your inaccessible meeting? She’s just got a bad attitude! A good attitude would presumably have magicked up a ramp and large-print leaflets.

The world is a very inaccessible place. There are structural barriers to disabled people’s participation, such as steps and a lack of accessible toilets, as well as troubling and deep-rooted attitudinal barriers which cause employers to refuse to hire a person with mental health problems, or commenters to slate the otherwise-national-treasure Tanni Grey-Thompson when she dares to complain that she had to crawl off a train because appropriate systems were not in place to allow her to travel with dignity.

Stating that the only disability in life is a bad attitude also puts the blame on disabled people for their predicament.

When I fell down the stairs a few days ago I misguidedly tried to work out which failing body part had caused the tumble when, presumably, I should have been adjusting my attitude instead: a much more effective way to prevent further falls.

For people with mental health problems, the ‘bad attitude’ meme is a particularly galling piece of inspiration porn. Already well accustomed to being told to pull themselves together and get a grip, their friends and family resharing this image reinforces the narrative of blaming the sufferer.

There is often a lot of self-blame inherent within mental ill-health already, it tends to be part and parcel of many diagnosed disorders. Adding guilt via images of young children running in prosthetics is not going to be the final step in curing somebody’s madness, it is much more likely to reinforce their self-blame and negative internal dialogue.

The message sent out by the “only disability in life is a bad attitude” quote is one which also fits in very well with the Government’s ’scrounger’ rhetoric around disabled people, reinforcing the idea that we are not trying hard enough. This is what has allowed them to bring in such draconian and devastating changes to the welfare system, and equating disability with a bad attitude is what allows such abuses to continue.

Telling people who are bedbound that they could work if they tried harder, and telling those with severe mental health difficulties that they have been allowed to languish on benefits for too long, all equate to the same thing: you have a bad attitude. You could be cancer-free if your approach to life didn’t stink; your bipolar disorder is because of your inability to look at the best in a situation; and that amputated limb would have grown back if you weren’t such a pessimist. Now get a job.

Bad attitudes do not cause disability any more than good attitudes guarantee health, and what may appear to be a harmless, if patronising message is actually judgemental and damaging. Until disabled people have all the same rights that non-disabled people do, it is wrong to assume that this kind of objectification can ever be benign.