The Way We Roll

Strictly Right or Wrong / Not All Disabilities Are INvisible

November 04, 2022
Strictly Right or Wrong / Not All Disabilities Are INvisible
The Way We Roll
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The Way We Roll
Strictly Right or Wrong / Not All Disabilities Are INvisible
Nov 04, 2022

Phil and Simon are ripping it up, pushing the conversation, and exploring the boundaries of where we are today when it comes to disability. There’s fun, seriousness, thoughtfulness, respectful disagreement, celebration and controversy

We ask why does the ‘life stops after becoming disabled’ idea remain so strong? Phil explores his concerns about Ellie Simmonds going on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, and Simon vehemently disagrees. We highlight the worrying crisis for disabled people in being able to recruit PAs and support workers. If that wasn’t enough, Phil has an idea for some merch. 

Right at the end, we have a packed inbox of brilliant and interesting comments from you. 


Going blind and travel

Guardian article on the Canadian family travelling the world

Travel Eyes for blind travellers 

Strictly Come Dancing

Strictly Come Dancing

John Whaite brilliant Instagram video about difference on Strictly

Ellie Simmonds Instagram 

Nikita Kuzmin (Ellie’s dance partner)

Crisis in care workers

Guardian article Staffing crisis in care homes

Personal tweet Baroness Jane Campbell on recruiting a PA

Video of House of Lords Care Crisis Q&A 7 Sept 2022

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Phil and Simon are ripping it up, pushing the conversation, and exploring the boundaries of where we are today when it comes to disability. There’s fun, seriousness, thoughtfulness, respectful disagreement, celebration and controversy

We ask why does the ‘life stops after becoming disabled’ idea remain so strong? Phil explores his concerns about Ellie Simmonds going on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, and Simon vehemently disagrees. We highlight the worrying crisis for disabled people in being able to recruit PAs and support workers. If that wasn’t enough, Phil has an idea for some merch. 

Right at the end, we have a packed inbox of brilliant and interesting comments from you. 


Going blind and travel

Guardian article on the Canadian family travelling the world

Travel Eyes for blind travellers 

Strictly Come Dancing

Strictly Come Dancing

John Whaite brilliant Instagram video about difference on Strictly

Ellie Simmonds Instagram 

Nikita Kuzmin (Ellie’s dance partner)

Crisis in care workers

Guardian article Staffing crisis in care homes

Personal tweet Baroness Jane Campbell on recruiting a PA

Video of House of Lords Care Crisis Q&A 7 Sept 2022

Announcer  0:08  
Welcome to The Way We Roll with Simon Minty and Phil Friend. 

Simon Minty  0:15  
Hello, and welcome to The Way We Roll with me, Simon Minty

Phil Friend  0:19  
and me, Phil Friend.

Simon Minty  0:21  
We don't have a guest this week we are back to the tried and tested. Phil and I are making each other laugh and squabbling generally.

Phil Friend  0:29  
I feel quite lonely. Its only me and you

Simon Minty  0:33  
next month, Kate Nash coming on about her new book.

Phil Friend  0:35  
Come on, a new book can't wait. Have you ordered yours?

Simon Minty  0:40  
No, I get sent a copy because I'm an influencer.

Phil Friend  0:44  
Oh, for goodness.

Simon Minty  0:45  
Yeah. Because I've got more than 200 followers or something, yeah. I think we've been sent a copy to review anyway.

Phil Friend  0:54  
I hope so. I'm looking forward to it to be serious. Yeah, no, she's put a lot into this good old Kate

Simon Minty  1:00  
And our last month's show, if you're not heard it, with Professor David Turner on the history of disabled people's activism, is amazing.

Phil Friend  1:10  
Yeah, so check it out. One of the best,

Simon Minty  1:13  
I will kick off Phil, there's an article that I've seen both in the BBC and the Guardian, I imagine it's doing the rounds because it's a few months old. The title or the headline in The Guardian is "Canada Family Tour world to store rich memories before children go blind". This is a family of six, mum and dad and four children, their children, Amelia, Leo Cullen and Lawrence, three of those children will lose their eyesight in the coming years. So they are travelling the world to put all these images in the bank. Before they lose their sight. The three children were recently diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare progressive disorder where the cells of the retina gradually break down. There's no cure, got to do what we got to do. I am going to say a little piece, I feel mean as well as real on this. And I met a friend 10 years ago, and she was in the same position her sight was going and she said I'm trying to ski I'm trying to travel. I'm doing everything I can while I can. And I said to her, Well, do you not want to see what we can do? So when my big fear is the three children, will go blind? And then there'll be like, Well, that's it. Lifes, done And I'm sure it isn't, but it just it sort of feels like unless you do this, it will be miserable afterwards, am Im being to mean?

Phil Friend  2:45  
I don't think you're being mean, I think you're I mean, while you were talking about it I was thinking about my own kids, and how impossible it was to get them to look at Skylines, and landscapes and stuff like that because they'd say oh this is boring, I want to look, you won't be able to see this soon. So you know, pay attention kinda that was what was going through my head because it's really difficult to get young people, although I must admit, there are many families with children that love going hiking, and walking and climbing and all those things. So, you know, I don't know, it's quite interesting, is it because what they're trying to do is give them a database a reference that they could then use when they're no longer able to see so on.

Simon Minty  3:28  
Okay, so I mean, I totally take your point as a parent, basically, its own challenges. I remember going to the Grand Canyon, and I was looking thinking, oh my goodness, me and 12 year old playing on a PlayStation. So you know, they had no interest. But that's slightly separate this. I mean, there's a little line here, which alludes to where this article, "when they digested the news, their three children would become blind, the family initially tried to get one of them to learn braille. But in a cruel irony, her eyesight at the time was too strong". Now is this stuff this is saying? Oh, can you believe it? She can see too well to learn braille well go and fit a blindfold on you dope. I don't understand that. Secondly, I just feel I tell you, I have no problems with it. Of course, they should live their life to the maximum. I love the idea that a family of six are travelling the world. That sounds amazing what an experience for the kids. I just think we've got to be really careful that there's this sort of impending doom that at some point, they're going to lose their sight. And they're going to think I'll never see anything ever again. And life will be miserable. I imagine it will be difficult. I imagine it will be different. But I kind of want them to get ready for being blind as well as making the most of what sight they have. But

Phil Friend  4:47  
you need a balance don't you? It's feels like you need a balance. You need to do what they're doing which is brilliant, as you say, but also begin to research what might be available what how you might develop different skills, what kinds of things do you need? Because they've actually got quite a long time to prepare. I mean, you know, many people I've met with this condition, we're, you know, we're kind of, I don't know, they just didn't somehow feel that the services they were getting, we're helping them to prepare this family have got a long time think about this. So the other side of it, I suppose is, which is on a positive note for the children is, who knows what might be happening in 30 years time? The medications, the drugs, the treatments, all these things may make a big difference to future people who have retinitis pigmentosa. So, I don't know it is yes, it's kind of it's the old thing about isn't it? There's no life after disability kind of thing there's no life after blindness kind of thing. And we know that's not true.

Simon Minty  5:52  
I mean, you'll be much more fair and balanced than me. Yeah, it's my bit of you know, the you if you become disabled, it's a tragedy it's the end. And it we've always fought to say, yes, it's a massive moment, depending on the nature of the condition, and it's life changing. There's no denying that. What is the frustration is we want to know that if you lose your sight, people go, Alright, I'm going to do this. And I'm going to do that. And this is what's going to be more important to me. And I'm just like that. So there is a life onwards

It's like the famous bucket list, isn't it? You're told you're going to live for X. And so now what you want to do is hang gliding, jump off cliffs and do all sorts of stuff before you can't kind of thing. There is a slight angle here that I wonder about, which is the journalists view. This is a journalist writing this obviously spent time with the family interviewed, the family done all of that stuff, but there's a slant isn't there?

I don't think the journalists have done that. Or you don't you don't sense that this is a story. I saw it. But I think it's been kicking around since March. And this was September. I think it's getting rehashed and rehashed and you know, the family put pictures up on Instagram and trying to get followers. I'm not convinced there's been directly, they might have been didn't feel like it.

Phil Friend  7:05  
I just think that sometimes the way the story is told about us, by non disabled people, tends to go down that kind of tragedy route rather than the the other thing it doesn't talk about at all is what they're doing about meeting others with the condition, you know, meeting young people who are going through similar processes, how are they managing what what's their preparation about? That could be a good use of time, couldn't it? Because I've often felt that being if you've, if you're in Stoke Mandeville with a spinal cord injury, once you're through the initial shock, and all of that kind of thing, meeting other people in wheelchairs and doing stuff who've had the same sort of injury as you is a tremendously positive on the whole thing to do. I suspect,

Simon Minty  7:52  
I think that's nice as well travel the world, then go hang out with some kids who have lost their sight I was looking at while you're chatting. I couldn't remember his name is Amir Latif, who is a blind guy, Scottish blind guy, and he set up a travel company, and he's got retinitis pigmentosa. So by teens, he'd lost 95% of his sight I want to introduce that's what I'm going to do. I'll leave a comment under the line and say have a word with Amir. Just to reassure your kids that they'll be able to travel, it may be different but they will travel afterwards.

Phil Friend  8:27  
You've reminded me of that fabulous. Here we go. I will remember the programme I won't remember who was in it and what it was. But it was that idea of a programme about a blind guy who was travelled with a woman he'd never met before

Simon Minty  8:42  
Beyond boundaries. It wasn't it wasn't I was being naughty

Phil Friend  8:49  
anyway, yeah, he described they they went to this place in this incredible archaeology, and the sun and the rocks and it was extraordinary. And she described this to the guy who couldn't see and and it completely she she broke down it was because she realised she never really looked at things. I just remember that. That kind of sighted person with blind person thing.

Simon Minty  9:18  
I think that's Amir. I mean, it might be

Phil Friend  9:21  
yes, it might well have been Amir

Simon Minty  9:23  
There's a picture Travelling blind BBC Two Yes, yeah.

Phil Friend  9:27  
Oh, well done Simon 'm impressed with your research

Simon Minty  9:31  
I think he set up a company called Travelise or something like that. It just shows how under rehearsed we are I had the story blank talk about is what we do we find a solution halfway through.

Phil Friend  9:42  
But he's he's a great example of what you were just talking about. 

Simon Minty  9:46  
He's an inspiration

Phil Friend  9:48  
I did not say that word. He might be inspiring us that that's that's really good news. That's good but interesting article

Simon Minty  10:00  
And there's lots of levels, there's me being a bit tough as I am, then there's, as you say, journalist writing it with a certain slant. There's parents who are doing what they think is best for their kids. There's a whole load of stuff in there before you even sort of unpicks. I'm a disability bit. So I'm a bit direct on this because it as I read it, it frustrated me. And I wanted a balance of A, someone who's blind at the end of the article saying, Did you know I've been blind for 10 years with the same condition? I've been to 20 countries. This is how I love travel now. And so there was a rather than Doom Doom, you're gonna sit in a bedroom for the rest of your life. Okay. You got a story about support workers.

Phil Friend  10:42  
Yes, this is a this is a story that kind of in a sense, I'm picking up through social media. And on first thought I did a bit of digging, there's not a lot of information about this actually, that's available. The story put simply as this, you and I know, of a number of people, in fact, quite a few people who use support workers to do everything mean that they got up in the mornings, and they're put to bed at night and everything in between support workers. This enables people with very severe impairments to live pretty independently, if not totally independent lives. What's going on on the sort of social media front and beginning to get really quite serious is people not being able to find or employ support workers. The numbers of people applying are plummeting. The numbers of people, the staff turnover stuff is increasing. And the individuals who've relied so much on this kind of support are really very worried now about ending up in residential care. Or perhaps even scarier than that, just being left on their own in bed or something. I mean, it's just really frightening. Now, I'm not someone who needs that kind of support. But my goodness at least not, yet. Now, this translates, of course, it does into other social care areas like residential care settings themselves. So particularly for older people, couple of things are going on here, I'd be interested in your view, the first thing that's going on, is people don't apply for these sorts of jobs if they don't get paid very much. And some of the data around the salary of support workers is scary. Now, I think when you people like our friend Jane Campbell and another mate of mine, Ross Hovey, others, obviously pay their own staff, and if they've got some financial means they may well pay above what other groups pay, but the fact of the matter is, that that doesn't work if nobody's applying. And the reasons for for that, in part, are being caused by Brexit. Now, my understanding is that, from January to April 2021, just 1.8% of new starters in Adult Social Care came from overseas compared with 5.2%, in the same period in 2019. So since Brexit came in, the numbers of people coming into the UK willing to apply for jobs like this have dropped quite dramatically by about 4%. The other problem, and then I'll shut up is good old bureaucracy, and additional costs. So the employer is responsible for paying what's called a sponsorship licence, and then they face ongoing charges to bring staff in on health and social care visas. And the home office, it would appear from what I've been able to read, I've been dragging their feet as a bureaucratic processes, you can wait months for these bits of paper to be sorted out to enable the person then to work. So there's an additional cost on the individual the social care outfit to to import people. And then there's the bureaucratic processes, they then have to go through to get it, none of which existed when we were in the European Union. So that's, that's worrying, I

Simon Minty  14:24  
think, were you reading this one?

Phil Friend  14:26  
It was an article from Community Care, which is a social work magazine, who did a piece of feature and obviously we can put this in the links.

Simon Minty  14:37  
And there's loads in there and we you know, we do know, a dozen maybe more about we added them all up people have full time support workers. Yeah. And I said yet because you know, maybe you but I live on my own and I know my body's slowing down. There's going to be a point where I'm going to need some sort of support. I had it post hip replacement. People helping me shopping help me cooking And it's it's the bit I found most striking, I loved the help, but it's the relationship that you have with the person can be really, really, it's critical. You know, you want him to work for you not. And, and so therefore getting good quality people who have the right approach and the right design. Okay, I'm gonna ask you what is your solution? Mr. Friend?

Phil Friend  15:24  
I think one solution would be to scrap anything to do with the bureaucracy is about getting people in the I mean, there is a thing about skilled workers being allowed in, right. So it's kind of taking a different line with support work. And I mean this in residential care settings, too, I think that the crisis in social care generally is massive. But in residential care settings, they're experiencing the same issues can't get staff. So particularly older people are being left or put at risk, at least by not having the adequate Kela needs. So you get rid of it. The first thing

Simon Minty  15:57  
is that I think this industry is always relied on two things, either, underemployment, so people will just take it because they need work, or the brilliance of certain people who go, this is a vocation, this is what I want to do. If you've got over employment, which you've got at the moment, so there's plenty of other jobs going around. And you don't have that this is what I was born to do, or it doesn't pay enough. There is a lack as well as your absolute point, which is we're not getting the same amount of people in to do it. So there's a there's kind of three or four, one of our friends said they appointed someone and they knew they weren't quite suitable. I mean, things like smelling alcohol on breath, or and then they didn't turn up on their first day. I mean, how difficult was that be that you know, you need the support, and then the person you employ is completely unreliable. It terrifies me, I imagined also keeping someone for a long time, when the person I had was a student, maybe taking the summer off, and they were going to do it to try stuff out. But they weren't going to be in the industry for long.

Phil Friend  17:03  
I think there's another angle, which is of course, those that so if you've got say you've got three support workers looking after you, but you need a fourth, that fourth is never there, then the pressure on the other three goes up. And the people that you're talking about, they're really committed individuals that do this sort of work, and really do it brilliantly. The pressure on them, and the guilt, if they aren't able to fill the hours, because they've got lives, too, you know, it's not. So I think that's a mess. I'll tell you what I think fundamentally about this, it is that the pyramid needs to be turned on its head, we need to see people in these kinds of roles at the top of our society, not at the bottom of it, we should reward them adequately for the dedication and the training, we need to train them, we need to do far more training to help people understand the role and so on. And then it's a very high value job. And then I think people you know, as far as I know, law schools are full of graduates who want to be lawyers. No teaching has long been a traditional occupation where people were valued and high status, care workers have been at the bottom of the heap for ever. And yet, they're caring for our mum and dad, they're doing that kind of work. And it's so important. And I think in some ways, we've got to shift the culture, which is a long term strategy won't happen overnight. But we need to place a much greater value on people that do this sort of work.

Simon Minty  18:26  
It's not just a mom and dad our mates. I mean, our friends,

Phil Friend  18:29  
I was thinking of both.

Simon Minty  18:33  
I'm gonna nick Neil Crowther, who has been on the show who's really active in this area, and forgive my clumsiness with this. But if the perception is a support worker, wipes a bum help someone feed with food. That is why this perception exists. As Neil says, we have not understood what a support worker does, changes someone's lives and provides independence and opportunity, and all the things so they can now go out and socialise, they can now go out and choose to do things that they want to do. And they can go beyond those basics of eating and dip into the real whatever it might be. So I totally agree. i Why is it that we do position it so low?

Phil Friend  19:14  
I really don't know, you as you were talking, I was thinking about the intensive care nurse who also wipe bottoms. They do that stuff. But they when the COVID epidemic was going on, these people became heroes. They became elevated to I don't know what sort of status they receive, obviously massive training, these people are very skilled at what they do. And you know, the view of an intensive care unit all these machines and stuff. Why is it that we don't see care workers in a similar way? That's the challenge because both are doing the bottom wiping stuff. But one is we're not putting the understanding of all the technology alongside the understanding of how I can facilitate somebody to live totally independently which up and think of the savings. You know somebody being in a blocking a bed in an NHS hospital because they can't get support worker to go home. I mean, there are all sorts of issues. It's a big, big subject and you're right Neil Crowther and others have been talking about this for years.

Announcer  20:18  
Thank you for listening to The Way We Roll with Simon Minty and Phil Friend. If you enjoy the show, don't forget to subscribe rate and share

Simon Minty  20:26  
A change of tack listener dear listener brace yourself. It's gonna get a little bit hot and heavy now. I need to speak to you, Mr. Friend about someone on Strictly Come Dancing as a background. 

Phil Friend  20:41  
Is it Ellie Ellie? 

Simon Minty  20:43  
As a background a month six weeks ago, I was sitting with Phil and our dear friend Geoff and Dawn and Phil's wife Sue. And I mentioned that Ellie was going on Strictly. And Phil and I really went for it. We had a disagreement. Geoff pipe that's it. That should be a podcast. So I have saved it up. Now the difference is Ellie Simmons who has dwarfism she's a Paralympian is on Strictly Come Dancing.

Phil Friend  21:09  
And she's been on our pod check it on our pod. 

Simon Minty  21:11  
Yes, she has been on our podcasts, in terms of disabled, different disabled people being on the show. There have been definitely disabled people with amputees and so on. But Ellie is full on I mean, you can see a physical difference. And there is an absolute difference. So when we talked about this last time, Phil 90% of me got a bit moody with you. I must confess ten percent of me was upset. I was upset. Because you had a fear that now I'm not going to put words in your mouth. What was your concern? And where are you at now? Three, four weeks in?

Phil Friend  21:43  
Well, the first thing I need to say about Strictly not Ellie is I don't watch it. I find it a difficult programme to watch anyway, it's not my scene Strictly Come Dancing, Sue my wife. She does watch it, she enjoys it, and so on and so forth. So I know that I'm in the minority, because it's a very popular programme. Lot of people watch it. So I would say that straight up front my worry was about exploitation. I was worried that Ellie might be exposed to all sorts of things that that people that she might be opened up for now that Ellie is a very strong person. I know that, you know, we see how she works and so on. But that was really what it was about. I was really worried that she would be I felt maybe I'm being very paternalistic, I guess I just thought she's going to be clickbait. It's going this is going to go horribly, horribly, I thought, I haven't really followed what's happened. Although I do know, from what I've seen, that some of that has happened to her, she has had quite a lot of vile social media stuff happening, which is very sad, actually.

Simon Minty  22:55  
So I'm gonna move it away from Ellie personally, because I think that's so irrelevant, except that she's amazing that she's done it and bloody hell she to have the guts or the gumption to say

Phil Friend  23:05  
I've seen clips and she's clearly very good at it. I mean, I've seen clips of her dancing and with a partner and, and it's, it's incredible. I mean, you know, so anyway,

Simon Minty  23:16  
people with dwarfism were genuinely pretty hot dancers.

Phil Friend  23:19  
I know, they're athletes. I know. The Boccia and the pistol shooting. Different class.

Simon Minty  23:25  
To clarify I made that up everybody. That's not as a generalisation that I made up. Okay. A couple of points. When we first spoke, you were slightly more full on you were saying she's gonna be used for entertainment. Everyone's gonna laugh at her. The show will exploit her for comedic value, which I obviously took offence on two levels, one that Strictly would do that. Because I mean, we have had John Sargent and we have had Ann Widdecombe, who were not great dancers, slightly larger people, and they did become comedic. Absolutely. I just think with a disability bit. I couldn't see Strictly ever doing that. It always I've always been very 1970s, which upset you because I kept saying 70's.  Here's the flip side, which I have with three, four weeks in now. Most of the stuff I've seen online is very positive. It and I've seen, I've seen people talk articulately about this more better than I could. There's been a few negatives. There's slight difficulty with that. And forgive me, everyone involved. The media picks up on that, then they repeat it all. And then it's even bigger and actually wasn't that big in the first place. It's people going all the shows to woke, the show's gone over the line. Now. Here. Here's the thing that I've realised with this, I've had this debate with a few people. Essentially, if we go along with the concerns or the clickbait humour, the yada yada people like me will never be on the TV because it's too much for people to cope with. So we actually give in to the people who are narrow minded or have an expose themselves. There is a brilliant guy who was on Strictly last year, I think his name was James. He's a gay man. And he says, the last years he was with a gay partner, and they played it down, they stayed quite macho the disabled person. It wasn't too visible, they didn't play up with it. This year, we've got really physically different person who's shorter. We've also got a gay and a straight man dancing together. And they're playing with this there. There's almost camp and different stuff going on. And the public go whoa. So it's, it's a kind of, I don't mind you doing diversity, so long as you don't ram it down my throat. I just want it in a nice package that's comfortable, and Strictly is not doing that this year. They are saying, you know, to hell with that, let's go for it. I the gumption I don't know if I'd have the gumption to do that, because it takes a lot of strength. So far, she's gonna fail or succeed on the ability of her dancing. There hasn't been the weird stuff, but maybe you got to watch one. And you said you've seen a few clips and stuff.

Phil Friend  26:16  
Seen clips of Ellie. I mean, I'm obviously interested in what what happens with her and and and I can see that she's got talent, the dance area. And clearly she works incredibly hard with a partner to do what they do. I think going back to our conversation in the garden, I think my my knee jerk reaction, which is what it was, you know, we were having a spontaneous conversation at the time. The cynical bit of me was it's about viewing figures. I don't care what programme it is. It's about viewing figures. And the more outrageous we can make it, the more people will watch. So, you know, these shows are now on TV that I would never have dreamed would make airtime the room, you know, the dressing up as what they call it. Ru Paul's drag race. Yeah, roof, drag race TV, I've seen clips of that matter what is going on with this? What is this about? You know, what, what's, it's about entertainment. And it's about viewing. And I think what's happening over the years that certainly I've watched it the the desperation to get people to watch certain things, means we get more and more outrageous, so that in a sense, what I was feeling was the more Strictly can find difference that may well provoke big debate, and in a social in an equality space two gay men dancing, absolutely. What what would be wrong with that? Nothing at all. But if they become figures of fun, or in some way, are being used, and that's what I was saying to you in the garden, it wasn't, you know, I just felt that's what was a danger. And what you're saying is actually, that hasn't really happened. There's been really positive feedback about what they've been doing. Across all the genres of things like gay people and so on, I believe there's a very there's a very large woman on isn't there with with a same sex partner to my right about that?  but maybe saw a clip of maybe it was different. But anyway, the point I'm making is that my fears from what you're saying are unfounded. Which is, which is good.

Simon Minty  28:35  
But I think you're mixing two things up, there are certain shows that because they've got to keep going out there people start getting naked, or doing more outlandish things, because they think, Oh, well, that's I'm gonna get a few more people. Unfortunately, we see that on social media, people want more attention, so they get more and more outrageous or what, but I want to use that word outrageous. What is outrageous about some having someone with dwarfism on the show what is outrageous about having a gay and straight man dancing on the show? I don't think that's outrageous. I just think that's progressive.

Phil Friend  29:05  
And I agree with you. I don't think it's outrageous, either. What I'm saying is that if you look at Strictly when Brucie was doing it, it's a very different it's a very different show, in terms of contestants at least. And the judges, they get more larger than life. You know, it's kind of this this kind of, what can we do next time to keep or attract, if they're what they're saying is we're under representing gay people, for example, we want more gay people watching the show, et cetera, then yes, bringing gay people into that make sense? I get that. You know, it's what we've all been doing. I want to see wheelchair users in Coronation Street for the same reasons.

Simon Minty  29:45  
I don't want Ellie or someone who has a difference to be on the show. So I can see it. I mean, I know the line is all we never saw it as a kid and I mean, poor children with dwarfism. Now we're bloody over represented. There's way too many of us on screen are popping up everywhere. My bit is I want to educate the numbnuts who have not seen it. So you're, unfortunately and I know you're not like this, but your phrase of it's very different to Bruce's day. That's exactly what the shallow stuffs going on. Right. It's not how I like it, you changed it, and I liked it how it was!

Phil Friend  30:19  
I'm aware that I'm sounding like Alf Garnett or somebody. But I'm genuinely concerned. I think television is a really powerful medium.

Simon Minty  30:34  
But you're mixing two things. So because okay, if you follow that argument, Strictly stays with same sex couples, different sex couples, never has disability never has diversity, because that's not going to take the risk. You're mixing up thinking, they've done this to get more numbers to watch it. They're doing it because they need to stay relevant and up to date. And it's about entertaining, informing and educating the audience. 

Phil Friend  31:01  
It's a very thin line, isn't this I'm in between educating and voyeurism. I mean, what I'm seeing in some ways is that the more outrageous the physical, and I'm not talking about Ellile I'm talking about shows that go further and further and further push the boundaries. Now, if they're pushing the boundaries to be inclusive, that's a different commentary to chasing figures.

Simon Minty  31:26  
When I was used to be distinguishing, I don't think you can distinguish the two in your head, you're saying they're doing this for numbers, because they just want to keep changing.

Phil Friend  31:36  
No, I'm saying there's a danger that that's what's going on. I'd have no evidence that it is I'm just saying when we spoke about this initially, my worry was that, that Ellie was might be put in a position whereby she becomes the kind of focal point for not the right reasons.

Simon Minty  31:55  
But the fear is, or my concern is if you follow your argument through, I will never appear on television, because it's too risky. You're being old school disabled. I'm grateful for what you've given me, Governor, but I won't ask for anything more.

Phil Friend  32:12  
I think I think in the context of Strictly Of course, it's a very specific thing. It's about dancing. If small people on our on never seen in a shop, or never in a play, or never because people small people are in shops, and they do live lives and they do get married and they do dude stuff. If that's not portrayed then clearly, there's something wrong with it. But this is an entertainment show that specifically about dancing. It's not about so the inclusion of small people in dancing, absolutely. But what I'm saying is that it doesn't necessarily work to say, Well, if I can't be on that I can't be anywhere, I shouldn't be anywhere, because actually, most of the time, what you and I have talked about is disabled people being to be seen, like other people say we're not exceptional. We're not courageous. We're not all that stuff.

Simon Minty  33:05  
So different people should be only on some show. 

Phil Friend  33:08  
No I'm not saying that either. What I'm saying is that,

Simon Minty  33:15  
I think what you're saying is not risky.

Phil Friend  33:17  
Let me say I think one of the questions now Sue watch is one of the questions Sue raised was, how is it physically going to work? Ellie is very short. And her partner is not short? How is that actually going to work with some of the lifts and the moves and the steps and so on? Now, watch it from that point of view. They do a bloody good job of dealing with that issue. They're good, they're a good couple, they dance well, whether she'll win or not, is another matter, but she's doing all right.

Simon Minty  33:43  
And that's legitimate. Yeah, absolutely. And I bearing in mind her dance partner, Nikita genuinely likes to have his shirt open or  off. She's you know, she's faced with his stomach. area and I adore both of them. I think they've found some sort of combination. I think that's a perfectly legitimate question, because that's a bit like employment service provision. Okay, we're going to do this, how do we do this to make sure it works for you. And we don't know until we've tried it. And the whole point of that is I want to do this, I just want to know how to do it differently. Rather than this is too difficult goes

Phil Friend  34:21  
It goes back to I mean, if keep keeping it really simple. What Ellie has demonstrated is that it's perfectly possible for small people to dance brilliantly with normal sized people or average size people as well as with people with their own size. You know, there's no so that's one thing. The deaf girl who was on before Rose demonstrated that it's possible to dance if you can't hear music, you know, there is rhythm and so now, I think she was intriguing from because a lot of the audience's I think who watched her asked how's she doing that? She can't hear the music. So how does she know when to move? There technical questions, which I think Strictly answered. It's in front of you. She's doing it so it's possible.

Simon Minty  35:05  
I find this interesting and it goes back to James the contestant on last year who was the same year as Rose. The numbnuts if they wanted to, could have said Strictly's gone woke. bloomin How can you have a deaf person who can't hear the music even dance? But because Rose was not visible was very subtle had a little bit sign language we all love that it wasn't too much for the numbnuts Ellie is physically different and they're like wow, I can't go with it can't go

Phil Friend  35:35  
I get that and I I see what you're saying I make the points well made I you know, wheelchair users. It's been long the case I find it difficult to watch wheelchair users dancing. I've never liked it. It just makes me Oh God. But but the I and I've certainly watched in awe of wheelchair users dancing with non wheelchair user partners, doing all sorts of extraordinary things, people on crutches dancing in most phenomenal ways. I kind of that I admire that. It all goes back to me feeling. I it was paternal. I was feeling oh, God, I hope she's not, you know, I'm kind of awful ringer here.

Simon Minty  36:17  
The catch with that. And I have that questioning myself. Because if I go to the shops, I will get put through the wringer by 12 to 16 year old boys. Yeah. Now what do I do stay in, don't get deliveries, I can't I you know, I get some drunken idiot who gets excited. I can't not do this. And I upsets me that some people feel that they have to, or that we still got this daft people in the population. I hope it is a challenge what Ellie's doing in terms of the pure dance, she has a different shaped body. And that presents its own challenges. I need to give a shout out to Stop Gap Dance, who I'm part of they are an inclusive Dance Company. And they have all sorts of different types of disabilities and people with different conditions, as well as non disabled dancing alongside. They do this so beautifully. They do it so amazingly, they do it so creatively. And I you said a strong thing. And I think that whole mirror image that we have if you're not used to seeing wheelchair users dance, if you're not used to seeing people with dwarfism move around a dance floor, and you have that it can make you flinch a bit because it reminds you of what everybody else sees. And half of us proud and the other half of us wincing a little bit, because you're like, I don't know where to go with this. It doesn't. And I think like not disabled person occasionally. So it's, it's a challenge. I totally get that. I think lots of have had that. I think lots of us when we're faced with the same thing in our bases, it challenges us. But I am more of the it's enlightening. And it's amazing. And I you know, if I am a bit old school, I like being challenged on that.

Phil Friend  37:58  
I think I don't disagree with that. I think there is a need, we do need to have our comfort zones, pushed and probed. There are many people I think if Ellie is by doing what she's doing is lessening the chances of 16 year olds sitting in newsagent shops, baiting small people, then she's done a tremendous thing, if that's what happens, by showing a light on things, exposing things like that, I think. And do you know the audience is watching their comfort zones are being pushed a little further, they are a little bit more tolerant than they were before because they actually like Ellie. She's brilliant at what she's doing. And that in itself is a good thing. So my my initial feeling and to some degree still is that I was feeling a bit protective rather than the desire for Strictly to put different people in front of us, because that they'd been doing for a while I do accept that. And some of that's great. I mean, gay men dancing try doing that 15 years ago.

Simon Minty  39:03  
And it's interesting that protective bit because is that ally ship that you care, or is it misplaced? And you know, if someone starts protecting you when you're out and about in the car park, you'd go ballistic

Phil Friend  39:13  
it's about several things. One is I've met her and I like her she's great. I'm old enough to be your granddad. So some of its granddad. Some of it is that I know when you put your head above certain parapet people shoot it off, and you've experienced that yourself. So I feel protective in that way. That's not parental that's. That's ally. Yeah, that's ally. I don't want to get smashed up because it's trying to change the way we think and things.

Simon Minty  39:44  
Their word on the street. She has been asked several times. She has turned them down until now until she's retired so this isn't Strictly suddenly going let's go whiz bang wacky. This is she's been asked loads of times. One last little surprise for you. I hadn't mentioned it before, but I did speak to the people who make Strictly and they've said Ah, next year you and I could be a couple. So what a lovely moment. This is for all the listeners.

Phil Friend  40:09  
I think I think visibly disabled people need exposure on that show. I'm getting a bit annoyed.

Simon Minty  40:14  
My fear is the exposure and the ridicule that you're gonna get from me. I'll be tweeting, Phil can't dance for toffee!

Phil Friend  40:25  
I can't wait to try and lift you and chuck you across a couple of rooms. That might be fun.

Simon Minty  40:30  
Oh my life. I think that will be the last Strictly 

Phil Friend  40:33  
I like it.

Simon Minty  40:35  
It will be the last series Phil and Simon closing the show. Can you imagine?

Phil Friend  40:45  
Anyway, good luck to Ellie. I so hope she wins.

Announcer  40:49  
If you enjoy The Way We Roll please do like and subscribe.

Phil Friend  40:52  
I've got a quick before we close the show. We got one or two other things still to do. I just wanted to give a mention to somebody that I talked with yesterday. It's very quick. We all know about the Grenfell fire which caused extraordinary upset well, everything, it was just awful. This chap works for HSE Health and Safety Executive. And they're putting together as part of the regulatory body. They're bringing together people who live in high rise properties, who are tenants not owners, but who have a disability. And they're finding it a real struggle to get anybody or people with disabilities to come on to this group to help advise how things are going. So just want to give a shout out. We'll put this in the notes show notes. And this comes from one of our listeners really Paul Willgoss who's also works with the HSE.

Simon Minty  41:57  
Paul famously listens to our show in the bath. Yes, he does. Yes, he's a fire safety things, not health and safety. He just likes

Phil Friend  42:04  
this more. Or he should never have told us that he's never lived it down.

Simon Minty  42:08  
 I've worked with Sarah Rennie, who is part of the campaign because I know the government who said we stay in place, we're not going to be evacuated, if you have a disability in the high rise. And they're trying to challenge that. And maybe this is, you know, it's great if we can get more disabled people to say, look, this is the impact on me and what should be done. So we can put the link up there sounds really important. You are going to create a new badge, I believe.

Phil Friend  42:37  
You're determined to get me lynched aren't you? First of all, there's the Ellie thing. Now, you want me if you would over joshing around, and I just came out of my mouth came. I can't remember what I said actually

Simon Minty  42:53  
we were sitting talking with Geoff about his wedding. And we are best mens at our friend's wedding. And we said we could be marshals and guide everybody in the right direction. And then you came up with this line that made us roar. Because you're gonna have a badge that said,

Phil Friend  43:11  
Not all disabled people are invisible.

Simon Minty  43:19  
No, oh, disabilities are invisible.

Phil Friend  43:22  
Oh, that's what it was. Not all disabilities are invisible. This is my great age. I can't remember what I said 10 minutes ago.

Simon Minty  43:29  
That's almost 80% of our non visible condition listeners.

Phil Friend  43:36  
If you'd be interested in merchandise that says, Whatever I said, then please let us know. Yeah, I don't know. I just, it just occurred to me that everywhere I go, I see people wearing badges that say, I mean, I'm not joking somewhere. I'm deaf, you know, or I have not all disabilities are visible. All that kind of stuff is all adds to the rich tapestry of life. But I just suddenly that What about me?

Simon Minty  44:09  
It's a Tanni Lee joke. Tanni Lee has dwarfism like me, and she used to come on stage and go look, I do know everyone I do know, you know, it's not a surprise to me. I'm a ginger. And then I think there's two things you say there's people who have there's like the sunflower Yeah, land yard. And then there's, you know, please give up your seat because I have a non visible all those stuff. That was great because it encouraged people to talk and open up. I know, there's a flip side of that. And this is a whole nother show where it does bring its own potential and stigma and not everyone wants to wear it because it gets his own baggage as it were. But your general genuine point is and I think I say this a lot anyway, in training. It is fabulous that we're focusing on non physical conditions because we haven't, and there's a lot of people that don't come forward. However, this is never about them and us. It's all about all of us. rising. So you're right it, there are still inaccessible buildings, there are still very bad treatment for people with visible conditions. So it's just the way the world works. Sometimes you focus on something and forget the other, but

Phil Friend  45:14  
But anyway, manufacturing mugs and pens and T shirts. There's a market for it. Okay? Are you gonna do listeners corner? 

Simon Minty  45:26  
I have a few listeners corner. We haven't done it for a little while, which has been lovely. So I had a long chat with James Hill, who is the Comms Manager at Cranfield University, is a younger guy than us. And he said he loves the show. He said what other people have said you discover it, and then you go back and pick up on lots of things. And I think because we do talk broadly, we do talk historically we do our guest sort of thing. He said he really liked it. Disability Horizons, we have to take issue with them. They did their top 11 Why 11 podcasts, we didn't even make it. (Laughter) That's fine. And then a fabulous person I know, Jess, Mabel Jones. She's involved in arts and disability and other various areas. And she said, it just kind of keeps me in touch. And it reminds me It reminds me of certain things that I might have forgotten or, you know, not focused on. So yes, three lovely comments we have.

Phil Friend  46:24  
There's a further one from our old chum, Dave Reese, who many listeners will remember I used to work with I miss Dave, I don't do it with him anymore. But he wrote to us and he said and I'll quote "I just wanted to say to you and Simon how bloody great your latest The Way We Roll is such a fascinating guests, not because of he's in Swansea, Swansea University. Dave, by the way, is Welsh and lives I think Cardiff. So he's given a plug for Swansea University. With so many interesting thoughts and observations. His book is definitely on my 2025 Christmas list his examples of pre social model are really interesting and how the model really pulls together what happened previously, I was just waiting for your question on Dickens. I used to talk about Dickens and Tiny Tim and all that stuff when I worked with Dave.

Simon Minty  47:16  
He was  a friend of yours. Charles Dickens wasn't he?

Phil Friend  47:18  
He and I hung out at school together. 

Simon Minty  47:20  
And when he put Tiny Tim is there's too far for me toofar. You know? No, you look looking for readers.

Phil Friend  47:23  
 I don't want to I don't want to hear about disabled children. Anyway, good. Good. What they call it mailbag. It used to be called a mailbag  yeah by Charles Dickens,

Simon Minty  47:39  
We love hearing from you. And I mean, some of those comments I got verbally so it was it was a mixture of but um, you know, we forget and then we don't forget, we don't know who listens all the time. So it's so lovely when you do say something worked for you or something was good. So thank you. It's nice to have a one to one.

Phil Friend  47:59  
I've enjoyed it. I've enjoyed it. I've been exposed I know that now my Twitter feeds will be leaping off the scale for all the  right reasons but no, it's good fun. We haven't done it for us do it again. Next show it's Kate Nash isn’t it?

Simon Minty  48:14  
Yes Kate Nash talking about her book Positively Purple,  but do go back and listen to Professor David Turner and the history of disability and some of the stories he has they're amazing. 

Phil Friend  48:28  
Yeah, a really good show that was okay so if you want to contact us you can do so in a number of ways which Simon will help you within a minute but my bit is that you can contact us at If you want to email us

Simon Minty  48:43  
I won't be able to read them because Phil put two factor authentication on with his telephone numbers I can't get in to them anymore

Phil Friend  48:55  
Definitely sought out Phil friend out day isn't it!

Simon Minty  48:58  
We will work it out that was a joke and is unnecessary. We also love hearing from you on Instagram on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook we pop up everywhere so yeah, wherever you want to say hello.

Phil Friend  49:13  
Don't forget Beacon normally always mentioned Beacon. 

Simon Minty  49:17  
Thank you, Phil. Yes, Beacon is this one stop where you can go and get all our YouTube video. You can get the most popular show. Join our mailing list. Thank you, Phil.

Phil Friend  49:26  
No problem. Okay, well lovely to see Simon and I'll see you soon.

Simon Minty  49:30  
Take care everyone. Thanks for listening to the end.

Announcer  49:33  
This is The Way We Roll presented by Simon Minty and Phil Friend. You can email us at or just search for minty and friend on social media. We're on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Transcribed by

Blind children
Support Workers
Ellie and Strictly
Grenfell Panel
New Disability Badge
Listener's Corner