Collette’s story

In sharing her experiences as a disabled person, Collette found she could support others facing similar issues, and find her own identity.

‘I simply didn’t meet other disabled people’

I became a disabled person at six years old, acquiring a spinal cord injury in a car accident in which my mum died. Growing up in a small town, for years I simply didn’t meet other disabled people, and as a teenager I really struggled with my identity. I hated the idea I was different and did my absolute best to blend in with my friends. To such an extent I didn’t talk to my friends about any of the difficulties I had, and became really lonely and isolated. The truth was, I was living a very different life to my friends and I didn’t have anybody I felt I could talk to or who was going through the same things as me.

My introduction to WECIL came at a really important point in my life. A friend suggested I contact their advocacy team to help me with some problems I was having. At this time, a string of difficult health problems and frustratingly long periods on hospital waiting lists meant that I was unable to take up a place I had earned at university. Very low, and struggling to find a workplace that was wheel-chair accessible, I found real inspiration as a volunteer.

 

‘My experiences travelling meant I could help someone plan their first trip abroad’

Life as a disabled person was, and is endlessly challenging – often in ways most people don’t anticipate. Volunteering at WECIL, I found disabled people supporting and advising each other, benefiting from sharing experiences. My experiences travelling abroad meant I could help someone else plan their first trip on a plane. This sort of project would have really helped me when I was younger.

 

‘Never been so proud to call myself a disabled person’

Meeting other disabled people and helping them through WECIL’s services, almost gave me a new identity – I finally felt purposeful and had never been so proud to call myself a disabled person.

A few years on, I am proud to be a Trustee. I hope that my experiences of life as a disabled person, my knowledge of all the great projects and my fierce passion for fighting for the rights of other disabled people like myself, will give me the opportunity to help impact on the lives of the WECIL community as positively as WECIL has enriched mine.

Calendar

Calendar

17 Nov
  • MS Advice Clinic BrAMS

    The advice clinic runs every 2nd Tuesday and…

    Bristol and Avon Multiple Sclerosis Centre BrAMS Southmead Hospital Southmead Road Westbury-on-Trym BS10 5NB, Bristol, 11:00 am

18 Nov
20 Nov
  • Work Club drop-in

    Free sessions open to disabled people and older…

    The Vassall Centre, Gill Ave, Bristol BS16 2QQ, UK, 10:00 am

Twitter
10 hours ago
"Let us work together for the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in an inclusive and sustainable world that embraces humanity in all its diversity."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
14 hours ago
Listen out for WECIL's Emma Kneebone on @BBCbristol morning, she will be talking about our Inclusion Project that is funded by Children in @BBCCiN @BBCCiN
1 day ago
WECIL are thankful to Children in Need, without whom we could not run the Inclusion Project. We hope the appeal night goes well tomorrow! https://t.co/92wV3vwhl0 https://t.co/p0km5y2kOZ WECILBristol photo