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Penny Webb | None - Individual | Kidderminster, UK
Positive Role Model (Disability)

There are several aspects about my life that have an impact on every day life.
First is my dyslexia, I have always known that I had difficulties with the written word, but it was not until I was nearly 57 and in the last year of my degree that I was diagnosed as having dyslexia and dyspraxia. My tutors could not understand how I had reached level 6 of my studies without support. As well as undertaking my degree, I had became a blogger in 2012, despite a lack of confidence due to my spelling, grammar and mixing of tenses. Often I made terrible mistakes that I just did not spot. However I was so passionate about my chosen career as a registered childminder that I wanted to share my views with others. This passion was then extended into becoming a campaigner to speak out about Government policy that I believed was flawed, this involved writing to MP's, starting a petition, meeting MP's and representing my early years colleagues - difficult due to the fact that verbally I struggled being unable to pronounce words with more than 4 syllables. To me the issues were more important to me I had to overcome the barriers with the written and spoken word.
The second aspect is my diabetes. I have been diabetic for 18 years but my body does not respond well to the medications needed to control my diabetes, in fact the medications made me very unwell. This means that my body does not function as well as it should which over the years has caused all sorts of difficulties, that few could understand. However my chosen career as a childminder and my desire to speak up for the children meant I overcame those barriers and kept going as much as possible.

Finally - but connected to my diabetes I became very ill in early 2017, in that I lost most of physical ability in that I could not walk or control my body functions and was in extreme pain. The very high does of prescribed morphine meant that mentally I was trying to break though a fog that made it difficult to even think or remember things - and I kept falling asleep. It took year before I had a diagnose - that of Diabetic Radiculopathy - which basically means ' negative reaction to change of medication. In my case it was my reaction to diabetic medications being tried to control my diabetes. During this time I have continued to try to overcome my difficulties and after two years I can walk very short distances, and because of a determined effort I have reduced the amount of morphine I need to take. I have recorded much of my journey through my blogs and social media because I believe by sharing info we can support each other and inspire each other not to give up.
I have also taken to speaking up about barriers I come across as a disabled person ( I now have a Blue Badge and receive PIP - so being disabled is part of my every day life) so things like travel - trains, parking etc. things like toilets and shopping and everyday things I used to enjoy but now find difficult and have to find new ways to do. I try to continue to advocate for children, and although not easy due to travelling / staying away from home I try to attend conferences and such like, so I can work in partnership with others. Recently I have found new ways to volunteer which is very important to me, as I am a life time volunteer.
However I do not consider myself to be a role model for others - I just do what I have always done and refuse to give into the difficulties I experience. If writing / speaking about the issues and difficulties I experience gives others inspiration - well that is a bonus.

I recently complained about the lack of signs at some motorway services by disabled parking spaces, as it was not clear that Blue Badge holders could only park for 2 hours not the 3 hours normally allowed with a Blue Badge. My point was that it was unfair to expect disabled people to walk to read signs in a central position. I have noticed that since then signs are now provided by the disabled spares. I have no idea if my complaining led to this change or not, but it may well have, and certainly would not have done any harm.

I have also complained about travel assist on the local trains when despite booking travel Assist, none was provided. My complaint has led to a change of procedures - I do know this is the case because I received an email to tell me so. I believe that if everyone - both disabled and non disabled speak up about these things, together we can make a difference. I believe it is my duty to speak up - not because I am disabled but because it is my duty as a human to do so - much as I believe it is my duty to speak up for the children of this country.

I am not one to blow my own trumpet - so not expecting to be shortlisted but if by completing this profile I inspire or give hope to others, then that will be enough for me

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