Talking about the Paralympics on BBC Radio Sheffield

I was on Paulette Edwards’ show on BBC Radio Sheffield again, this time talking about the Paralympic Games and the visibility it gives to disabled people. There were a couple of other disabled people being interviewed, too, so I’ve clipped my bits here.


Well, listen, I’m going to talk to Philippa now, Philippa Willitts freelance writer and blogger. So for the next couple of weeks, the Paralympics are going to be getting extensive coverage on TV and online. How important Philippa do you think that is? This X kind of exposure? Actually,

I think it’s brilliant because it brings a level of visibility that disabled people have normally have. We were not on TV 24 7, and when the Paralympic games is on the last, you know, two or three events as being, there’s been really positive coverage and it shows disabled people as cause often we’re portrayed as kind of tragic or alternatively as like scroungers who are faking it. And it just brings an entirely different perception of what disabled people can be like. And that is that they can be elite athletes. We do

Need to talk about despite the fact that a public awareness and education surrounding disabilities is raising, you know, from what Johnny peacock said, he said that he thought disability awareness had gone through the roof. Do you agree with him Philippa?

I think there’s definitely more awareness than there used to be. I think there’s still a way to go, but things are definitely improving in that respect. Does it matter?

Do you want to take a sport up Philippa and decide to go for the Paralympic? Okay. Which sport do you like to watch them? Will you be watching the full Paralympics?

To be honest, I, I won’t be watching the whole thing, but one that I love is wheelchair rugby, because it is absolutely brutal. If you imagine that disabled people are kind of very fragile people who need to be treated like red, China, then you put wheelchair rugby on. And if you think that regular look B is brutal, just wait till you see those people mashing into each other. I’ve never seen anything like it

Is. Full-on some Mohammed. You said that what 10, I’ve got a message. Actually. I’ve got a text here from clinics. When he sends them, it could be a double edge sword for people with disabilities. She says we have a benefit support system that puts the focus on what you can’t do. For example, if you can walk a specified distance, dress yourself, or use kitchen appliances, many severely impaired people are turned down for benefits and have to appeal or go without the support they need. I agree that we need to be aspirational and our wonderful Paralympic athletes show that the focus should be on what we can do, not what we can’t, but will this put some of the most vulnerable in a difficult situation? That’s what Glynnis in Woodhouse says at Phillip Kenneth Philippa rather has got, I’ve just got you as a, as a male when you’re actually email Philippa, Philippa Willitts freelance writer and blogger. What do you think about what was said there by Glynis?

I think it’s a good point. The benefit system in this country is very punishing to people who are on it. It treats people with skepticism rather than believing what they say. And it, it actually has an adverse impact on people’s health because I’ve known disabled people and benefits who don’t dare go swimming. For instance, in case somebody reports them and they’re now considered to no longer, you know, not need benefits anymore. So I think even looking at it in terms of the Paralympics, it, the, when the benefits system treats people with suspicion, I’m focusing on what you can’t do. It can have a negative impact on, on people’s fitness. And that would have an impact on, on, you know, the degree, the level of sports people who are willing to come forward, right?

BBC radio Sheffield, Philippa. Thank you very much. We’re going to continue this discussion.

Image credit: Kentaro IEMOTO