The Way We Roll

From Croissants to Controversies: Phil & Simon's Tasty Take on Disability Classics

May 05, 2023
From Croissants to Controversies: Phil & Simon's Tasty Take on Disability Classics
The Way We Roll
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The Way We Roll
From Croissants to Controversies: Phil & Simon's Tasty Take on Disability Classics
May 05, 2023

Three disability classics in this months show. It’s Phil and Simon debating and exploring. 

Firstly an independent American short film highlights how to ask for help as a disabled person and how best other people can offer it. Called ‘Act of God’, the film explores different strategies and responses in a witty and thoughtful way. It gets us talking and Simon gets moody whilst Phil stays calm and polite.

Language is next: Prof. Amanda Kirby, who is neurodivergent herself wonders how language changes and it’s impact. Her example, ‘awe’ is both good and bad when it becomes the words awkward, awful and awesome, which are three words often attached to neurodiversity.

Lastly, a survey of 3000 disabled people found 75% had never heard of the social model. This somehow doesn’t surprise us. Does it matter? That said, we wonder if something is lost by not knowing about it. Sophie Morgan gets mentioned about five times by Phil for some reason.


Act of God article and film 

Prof. Amanda Kirby’s blog Neurodiversity is awesome 

Evenbreak survey showing 75% of disabled peeps haven’t heard of the social model.      

Article by Liam O’Dell about the survey

Sophie Morgan on Instagram

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Three disability classics in this months show. It’s Phil and Simon debating and exploring. 

Firstly an independent American short film highlights how to ask for help as a disabled person and how best other people can offer it. Called ‘Act of God’, the film explores different strategies and responses in a witty and thoughtful way. It gets us talking and Simon gets moody whilst Phil stays calm and polite.

Language is next: Prof. Amanda Kirby, who is neurodivergent herself wonders how language changes and it’s impact. Her example, ‘awe’ is both good and bad when it becomes the words awkward, awful and awesome, which are three words often attached to neurodiversity.

Lastly, a survey of 3000 disabled people found 75% had never heard of the social model. This somehow doesn’t surprise us. Does it matter? That said, we wonder if something is lost by not knowing about it. Sophie Morgan gets mentioned about five times by Phil for some reason.


Act of God article and film 

Prof. Amanda Kirby’s blog Neurodiversity is awesome 

Evenbreak survey showing 75% of disabled peeps haven’t heard of the social model.      

Article by Liam O’Dell about the survey

Sophie Morgan on Instagram

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  
It is just the two of us this month.

Phil Friend  0:25  
There's a song I can't remember. Is

Simon Minty  0:26  
anyone just the two of us now you started singing? Sorry, listener? Are you well?

Phil Friend  0:33  
I am very well indeed. I'm very well indeed. Yes, I am. I am actually. And a you well.

Simon Minty  0:46  
This is an electric start. Right, we got three topics for you listeners. The first one is about a short film, but more about the topics. It's called Act of God, then we're gonna go and talk about language. And neurodiversity being awesome. And the final one is the report couple of months ago saying that 75% of disabled people have never heard of the social model. That's it, what a lineup.

Phil Friend  1:12  
And I muddled that by calling it the social muddle, which might be quite useful,

Simon Minty  1:16  
I was sent a link to a film, it's in the New Yorker, I will share this or we will share this in the notes afterwards, the title of the article, a tale of stubbornness and disability and the name of the film Act of God. an artful short film asks why it's so hard to offer help and to accept it as film by Spencer Cook, and Parker Smith. This is a wheelchair using person and his PA or support worker. The essence of the film is the character chasing this $100 bill that is being blown along the street. And he is a wheelchair user with limited mobility and he can't reach it to pick it up. And a whole load of things happen. I think it's a lovely film. Did you enjoy the film?

Phil Friend  2:07  
I did. I did. I mean, you and I, I think some of our listeners too. I've watched lots of videos and stuff on disability. And I'm very often disappointed, because they're not. But I wasn't with this. I thought it was a really clever, a very well put together. I mean, very professionally edited and everything else. It's a good watch. And anybody could watch it and think that yes, interest

Simon Minty  2:32  
At the end is all credits with all crowdfunders. So they've clearly got money that it was written by the wheelchair user chap. I can't remember which, way round, and his support worker. And so this is real insight. It's not, you know, someone trying to create it or make it up. There was it is this perennial balance of if you have some form of disability, neuro divergence, deafness, any sort of condition, from time to time, you might need help. And it's the negotiation of it. And how would you approach it? And how would you keep your dignity and how would you put up with all the corny things that people say sometimes or how do you defend it when you don't want that help? There was a piece in the film where he's he's at work and he drops his pencil and by chance they have another wheelchair user that's joined the company of neither of them can pick it up. Now wheelchair use A says that it just stays on the floor I'll carry on. Other fella calls his colleague, he comes down, picks it up and hands it to him. Later on, we see other fellow with six of his colleagues and he's telling stories and they're all laughing and they're loving Him and He's entertaining. And wheelchair user A trundles off into the distance in a huff. I thought this was great because I can do both of them. I can regale and tell witty stories and be the centre of attention and there's other times I'm like, screw you lot I don't want to engage. Did you get that? Did you feel that?

Phil Friend  4:06  
I did. I did get it and and right at the very beginning of the film we join our wheelchair user A in bed asleep with a respirator mask on. And a support worker sitting in his wheelchair waiting for him to wake up and he's brand new, never been near this subject whatever has no idea what to do. So this sets the scene for wheelchair use A to be coming over as a guy who instructs people what he wants, but he doesn't do it on a social level. He's not very friendly. He seems a bit a bit hardcore really is not very likeable, in a sense. At that point. I felt whereas the wheelchair user he was engaging with other people and doing all that stuff. He was life and soul of the party. But your point I think is interesting because the guy's life and soul of the party isn't asking for any help. At that point, he's the centre of the conversation.

Simon Minty  5:08  
But there's this point where you have to put extra energy into get help and be polite and be friendly. When I don't want to be, I want to be wheelchair user A. I'm like, why don't we do this then f..... off, I don't want to get involved and I and he's not likeable, but he just says, Turn me over, take the respirator off. I need to go to the loo. Oh, by the way, you're gonna have to wipe you know exactly where you're at with it. I mean, he's, it's functional. Rather than that sometimes I question the costs of me. I'm really getting grumpy old man aren't I. The cost of me having to be able, so the other day I was in Sainsbury's and I was really hungry. I badly timed it, but I had a croissant. So I climbed up on my scooter got the tongs and was putting the croissant in my bag. two people. I had my headphones in. Two people came up while I was standing there. Do you want some help? I'm like, well, now I'm okay. Thanks. Because I am. I'm doing it. The third person I could sense they were behind me. And I feel a bit bad but I just ignored them. I knew they were talking to me, but I just pretended I couldn't hear them because I had my headphones on. clever person walked all the way round to the front of me so I couldn't avoid her. Said do you want some help? Third person I got the croissant in the bag by now. So it's me kind of and I went No, I'm alright. I wasn't rude. But I wanted to be you don't go out enough anymore do you, you need to get to Sainsbury's?

Phil Friend  6:37  
Well, I think before we started the podcast, I said to you, I rarely go out. I think what's interesting. Now let's go back all the listeners will have listened to Peter, on our last podcast. Peter Torres Fremlin, his "disability, is messy" stuff. Really interesting guy. Very interesting issue. Now, at some point in our conversation with him, there was this thing about being carried into restaurants, you might remember it. And when he was travelling abroad, it was the default position was everybody helps you. And I said maybe I should change my stance on this and just ask everybody for help all the time, because it seems to work. I'm trying to distinguish what the film was kind of trying to say about this issue from you being a grumpy old man. Because it's natural for people to I think what's good about this thing is that human beings are by and large, quite kind in my experience they try you know, so they see you struggling you don't actually need any help. Or see what they think is you struggling like that. Sorry, I wasn't gonna say you were gonna correct me. Yeah. You getting grumpy with me now because I'm, anyway,

Simon Minty  7:57  
I'm struggling. But not to get the croissant!.

Phil Friend  8:00  
It's difficult. It's difficult. I get the point that when this is happening all the time, it gets very wearing when you're asked 50 times a day whether you need any help. I do get that because that used to happen to me too. But I don't know. I think politeness is my default. It will be no, no, thank you very much. And

Simon Minty  8:21  
which is I mean, even me being what you do. Yeah. And just it started to creep in other way someone the other day, I was leaving the flat and they opened the door for me. That's really helpful. On my scooter really helped me to get out. So I said, thank you. And as I was going across the threshold, he says "just make sure you don't get a speeding ticket". Oh, here we go. Ah, and then carried on. And that was a rebuke. I mean, that's a really strong rebuke. For me. I didn't go any further. But and it's that it's, I think the film is brilliant. It's about asking for help. And being offered help, and the negotiation of it, which is immensely complex for both parties. And it shouldn't be and I agree politeness. Also when I'm doing my training, I would say to someone, yeah, the default is to say, do they does someone needs some help? Can I offer help? However, I'm modify it always now and say, There's got to be something extra. You don't just see a wheelchair user going along, go, Oh, I'll go and offer them help. They need to be in a position where it looks like they need something more. There was a guy who worked at a local theatre and he said we get loads of disabled people or crutches whatever it might be blind people. He said, I don't go up until I see that there's something extra that there. It may look different or they're a bit lost or they don't know where to go. That's when I offer the help. I don't just do it by default.

Phil Friend  9:49  
No, and I get an I agree with that. I think that you know, if I'm trundling along on my own along the embankment. I don't want people to say you all right. Do you want to put your scarf on bit cold? Do you want to cuddle? Oh, I don't need any of that stuff. If I'm trying to reach for something in a supermarket, which is sometimes quite difficult. And a member of the public rather than member of staff stops and says you are, you know, I appreciate that. Because I've got a choice I can say no, I'm not a grumpy old man like  you most of the time anyway.

Simon Minty  10:19  
I'm curious because I think it's gonna change each generation. I think your default polite. I'm half polite half getting a bit moody. And I reckon a 25 year olds like, Get stuffed.

Phil Friend  10:32  
Well, hang about because I used to be 25. Yeah. And I didn't quite go this far. But I was part of the PIss on Pity brigade. Yeah, great placards up saying piss off, leave me alone. I think what's happened is actually that we've moved from that position. Because I think while we've been doing what we've been doing, the non disabled world has been changing, too. They're beginning to understand actually, we don't all need help. I don't see that little boy outside the news agents anymore with a slot in his head. You know, that's gone. So I think we can't just sit here go, uh, you bastards. I think non disabled people kind of got some of the messages. But there will be a proportion to be fair, who are just not very bright, or whatever it is. And they just keep getting it wrong. 

Simon Minty  11:19  
I mean, most of the people I spoke about, they're nice people. This is the interesting bit. They're not nasty people I'm becoming the villain. But I'm like Well, this is really annoying. 

Phil Friend  11:27  
I'm glad you've finally owned up Simon.

Simon Minty  11:29  
 I know. But this is why it's unfair. Because I've become made out to be this rude, aggressive villain for something that is me saying I don't want this. 

Phil Friend  11:39  
But the point in your croissant on story. Public member number one does some public number two, and the third person has no idea what you were doing two people because she's concerned you clearly remember here what was she wearing?

Simon Minty  12:00  
She was a member of staff, which is even more awkward

Phil Friend  12:05  
I think the fundamental point you're making is fine. Because I think and the film, contrasts these two totally different approaches to thing. One is ruthlessly I am independent. And I will ask for help when I need it. And I'll tell you what help it is. And the other is life and soul of the party, pick me pencils up and do whatever. Yeah, he's almost kind of not bothered by all of that stuff. He's just saying, in order to do X, I need people's help. So 

Simon Minty  12:32  
So here's the fundamental, who, who is the happiest of the two? Do you think

Phil Friend  12:37  
Well, definitely the bloke who gets the pencils picked up? I mean, in the video, to be fair, the answer your question is him. The other guy, the $100 bill, you won't give it away. But the $100 bill thing that he then becomes absolutely obsessed by I suppose when he I mean, the film ends in a fairly positive way. But you kind of think God, what a bloody struggle.

Simon Minty  13:02  
But I this is my my point. And I think if I'm super angry because of the overabundance of interference, and then I get angry because of a result of it. I spend myself in a semi permanent state of anger, whereas jovial life and the soul of the party is living it up. So I think there's a question that yes, I might be inverted commas, right in what I'm saying, but do I feel happier or better for it? .

Phil Friend  13:32  
That's a good point.I think most of the time knowing you as well as I do, most of the time, you are pretty happy, because you do engage in when you need help you ask for it. I think the film, you do get a very strong sense that one is certainly happier than the other. But one is fiercely independent, and the other doesn't care.

Simon Minty  13:53  
One little shout out to the nondisableds blessum recently in the supermarket, I got to the checkout, and the person came over and said, I'm going to leave you because I remember last time you said you're okay, and you can do this all on your own. But I'm just over there if you do need anything. I thought, Oh, I'll give you that because you've actually I mean, didn't have to tell me every time but you've learned and you respected what I've said

Phil Friend  14:20  
you know what it did then oh, she was it. He'll show you that one. She See, they all went a little room beyond the stone and said I've got him this time you know that bloke who comes in on a scooter I wound him up good and proper.

Simon Minty  14:33  
And he can't get moody on this one.

Phil Friend  14:36  
I want on a training course I know how to deal with him now,

Simon Minty  14:39  
to clarify if I'm in a supermarket, I smile at most people I am people are really lovely and friendly. And I love living where I live and I get it is 99 If not 999,000 I'm just happy and people are sweet and I love it.

Phil Friend  14:55  
I think what's interesting about your story, being serious for just a second I know we are being it sounds like you know that you're going in and out of your supermarkets and doing your shopping on a regular basis, people are beginning to kind of get it because you haven't been there a long, long time like you were in your last flat, and the m&s below you in your last flat, they must have known you quite well, because you were in and out that shop all the time they got used to not asking you whether you needed help.

Simon Minty  15:23  
I was a mentor to one of the cashiers in the end. And the other one I was given some work. Yeah,we did a lot of 

Phil Friend  15:29  
Did you run training courses in there was a flip chart and gather the store staff around.

Simon Minty  15:32  
do miss them. I do miss Yeah,

Phil Friend  15:34  
well, but I think that's part of being a community, isn't it? When you get recognised I used to love it when I was younger, and I lived on in a council estate, but it had a pub. And when you went in the pub, after a few years of going in and out that pub, they used to get your mug for you give it and they put a pint of bitter in it because they knew that's what you drank in. There was a sense of belonging  But what in your story, it's the members of the public that are the problem, not the staff, isn't it? Isn't that fair

Simon Minty  16:02  
It's a bit of but it's not really anyone. It's it's I wouldn't say it's an either or it's just that kind of it's really difficult negotiation. And I suppose it's also good day, bad day type thing as well. It's like, three offers of help when I'm really hungry in the supermarket. You can see why I said get lost or wanted to. I didn't. And maybe that's the bit it's about being polite when actually you want to be quite rude. But then that's I think I need to work that 

Announcer  16:33  
You're listening to The Way We Roll with Simon Minty and Phil Friend. 

Simon Minty  16:37  
Topic two is over to you, Mr. Friend.

Phil Friend  16:41  
Yes, topic two's interesting. It's one of our favourites. It's the kind of language thing and we've got the good old standards, haven't we about language things like, am I handicapped? Or am I disabled? Or am I a person with a disability or disabled, you know, all that stuff, which has been done and done and done, but there is a really, I follow somebody called professor, Amanda Kirby, who's on LinkedIn. And we will put links to this in the show notes for you all. But she's a CEO, at Do It Profiler. She's a neuro diversity campaigner parent, with neurodiverse children and so on and so forth. And she writes a lot of stuff in neuro diversity. 101 is her kind of standard LinkedIn stuff. She wrote something fairly recently where she talks about language mattering. And she then came up with three she said, let's look at three words. Aweful, Awkward and Awesome. And then she gets into derivations of the word so awful, for example, is circa 1300. worthy of respect or fear striking with awe: Awkward is coined apparently in the 1300s in Scotland, Northern England, where it meant turned in the wrong direction. And she says that she's particularly interested in this as had been associated with Developmental Coordination Disorder, also known as dyspraxia, so Awkward, clumsy, that kind of thing. And then she looks at Awesome, which came in and around the 16th century, and the word had the meaning of filled with or the root word Awe meaning terror, dread or wonder is much older. And she's become become interested in what's going on in sort of our brains. When we are in Awe. I'll stop in a second, she talks about Awe is typically as elicited when we are confronted with perceptually, vast natural objects, such as mountains, VISTAs and oceans, that can also be elicited by powerful and engaging music. And then she asks us, when did you When have you experienced Awe and she uses examples of mountains and being in the middle of mountains, and so on and so forth. But she then posits this question, which is, in terms of well being, is there a way in whereby we could simply have an Awe walk, where we go, and we do things that fill us with Awe, and stuff like that? So I don't know Simon, where you where you sit with this, but I just thought it was. It's a very interesting little piece in its own right. But I thought, the way language has changed and these three particular words, and how they relate to neurodiversity is quite interesting. What's your take?

Simon Minty  19:44  
I I struggled a little bit with it. It may be a bit like you with the film had this massive impact on me and not so much on you. And maybe this article is similar. I kind of read it and I went, Yeah, but what was she trying to actually say the fact There's three words that begin with Aw. And they mean different things. And like we'll Yeah, go on. I couldn't, I couldn't, she didn't lift off for me. Now when it's titled with neuro, neuro diversity is awesome. I thought it was gonna go down a whole other road of you know, it's a super skill or it's a superpower and all that stuff. It's not that it's not that at all it is, as you say, and I mean, I did recognise the fact that they will begin with aw... and awesome awful go one way and, and I got her bit about an Awer walk, aw e hyphen walk. And that can be and I think you can be in awe of somebody, you know, someone who has got power or charisma, you can be in awe of them. So there's, I just didn't, it felt I feel I'm either being simplistic, or she was I couldn't work out where I'm like, where's the magic bullet? Like, Oh, I see what she's saying.

Phil Friend  20:55  
I think some of that, no, I think that's fair enough. I think where I kind of locked onto it was where she says that. Awesome comes in in the late 16th century. So awesome. Absolutely. in common. Yeah. Oh, that's awesome. That's awesome. But actually, the derivation for that word, is meaning terror, Dread, or wonder, right? If you're, if you're kind of neurodiverse if you have autism, for example, and there's a likely that that's going to be interpreted rather than it being awesome. It's frightening, horrible, dreaded, that kind of side. I mean, part most of her article is about how language changes because she kicks off with words like spastic and how that became a term of abuse, and so on. So I think it's that bit that gripped my attention. It was this idea that a word that used to mean, Dread terror, so on in some neurodiverse territory may still mean that rather than the more common. I always think awesome is Americanism in some some so many ways, because I think Americans use it an awful lot. That's where I was coming on it, I think,

Simon Minty  22:12  
and if she is alluding to it, which I do get and constantly sort of debate with people is how much is the word and how much is the sort of the stigma or meaning behind it? So you know, in our time, we've had handicaps and we've had disabled and there is words kicking around at the moment that may well change, and we have something new. But does that fundamentally change how people are viewed who have different types of conditions, and that's the bit you know, we can call it pineapple for all I care. But if you haven't moved on the stigma and the baggage that attached to it, so she's saying there was this word that meant something negative, and over the years has now become something positive. I totally get that, that's a really powerful, the only thing is she's sort of used three different words. Anyway. So she didn't say awesome, was horrible once and then became positive, did she?

Phil Friend  23:06  
Well, she says the derivation was horrible. But she doesn't use that word. But I mean, I think the awkward and the awesome. And the awful, awful and awkward are words that do have negative connotations, and could be used in a neurodiverse context. Yeah. awesomes become very positive. When actually it started off as an I think her piece, her article is really saying that language is changing all the time. And these three words, if I just chosen randomly, are also no longer used in quite the same way. They used to be. 

Simon Minty  23:40  
It is a wash, I'm trying to think of aw is now slightly awkward. It is ought to autism. But that's a u rather than in which case, I do agree with her. And of course, we know it changes and moves. And she's picked those specific words or the derivation, as you say they've taken a bit and moved it somewhere else. I do think she says something about neurodiversity being the word of right now and I, what she means by that is that is the term we are using. I think she also for me was alluding to, this is something that is so hot as a topic. It's beyond anything that I remember in the last 10 years on disability. And people aren't even calling neurodiversity disability. So it'll be really interesting. In 10 years where neurodiversity is, you know, what do we see as I think there's a very big difference as well. This reminds me of mental health or mental health conditions and mental illnesses. For so long. We just had a group of people that had very complex conditions and needed significant support. And then we started talking about it and loads of people say, oh, yeah, I've got depression. I've got this it became it is very natural. Lots of people talk about anxiety and depression is a very part of life. And I get the same with neuro diversity, when we talked about people with autism, we thought about people who had very severe conditions, people who needed a lot of help with nonverbal all of the things. And now we're looking at the whole range. In the end, there's lots of people who are just getting on with it in society. So I do think there's a sort of it's not softening, it's a broadening. And so these what we thought were very difficult conditions, are now being shown as being part of society, and lots of people have got it.

Phil Friend  25:31  
Yeah, I think I think the other way I read some of what she was saying in this was, if you apply this label or this word to yourself, and this goes back to you and I and our personal development courses, is using words to frame, how others might see you so so to use the word awesome. In the current context, is different from, you know, explaining that awesome means brilliant, right, as opposed to terrifying? Because I, you know, we know that if you say to somebody, I've got a bad back, that conjures up an image that's different than if you say, I've got a painful back. You know, it's, how do you want to be seen? And I think some of what her messaging in this particular article and actually I've read quite a lot by Professor Kirby, and she's often trying the article sometimes written for people who are neurodiverse, saying, Look at yourselves more positively. positioning it as people having real skills, which are in demand. And I don't mean necessarily work. I mean, you know, the fact that the way they see the world negotiate with the world, because of their neuro diversity issues, is a bonus rather than a deficit. Is that kind of conversation, I think,

Simon Minty  26:54  
well, we'd be good for the listener to read it and see what they draw from it. Absolutely. And whether they're in awe of it, or whether they just think it's awful. Yeah. Good. That could be awkward! 

Announcer  27:10  
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  27:18  
Our third and final topic. We've definitely got a theme here I feel we do in the real solid basics of disability we've done help, no help. We've done language. And now we're coming on to the blimmin social model, how much more disability 101 Can we be? And this was an article, Liam Odell, who is I believe he's a journalist who has a disability. Actually, I'm sure I've come across Liam before. Anyway, nearly three quarters of disabled people in the UK have not heard of the social model of disability. This was a YouGov survey, commissioned by the social enterprise Evenbreak we know Evenbreak their lovely organisation. And if you've never come across this the social model, is it people are disabled by barriers in society, as opposed to the medical model of disability, which says someone is disabled by their impairment or their difference. So Simon has dwarfism Yes, we know that he can't walk very far uses mobility scooter, great, no disability, but then the steps stopped me because I can't get passed. So the point of this, Mr. Friend is three quarters of our fellow people have never even heard of a fundamental tenet of the disability rights campaign for the last 30/40 years. Rather than debate the actual specific merits of the model just in itself is the fact that it's well it's not very well known or it's not accepted as approach. Are we saying we need something new. Is that Is that what's happening?

Phil Friend  28:55  
I'm gonna go back to our last guest, Peter Torres Fremlin who's getting loads of name checks. But he talks about this, doesn't he? He says, it's not enough. In our conversation with Peter, he, you know, talked about disability being messy. It's much more than that flight of steps. It's about all sorts of other things. So maybe, I mean, I'm not I'm not surprised by those findings. Because I think, I think for the great mass of disabled people, they're not in the millieau. They're not interested. Yeah. You know, you're going back to your earlier thing about the help and younger people, you know, being furious and whatever. I kind of get the feeling that younger, disabled people are just too busy getting on with stuff for all this and actually, particularly when you look at for example, students, universities and college isn't stuff got so much better at dealing with barriers. I'm not saying it's perfect by any means. And I know that that will cause outrage if I do. But there is a principle established that if you're disabled in a university, we will do stuff to help you kind of thing. It's in statute, it's there. And we have access to work we have reasonable adjustments at work and all this kind of stuff. So things are moved a bit. So maybe the barriers are less prevalent, so people have less reason to get angry, I think where the big stuff sits. And we've always said, this is the attitudinal ones. And they take much, much longer to move for all of us, really. So I don't know, I just I think it's a bit like the Westminster bubble. You know, in Westminster, everybody's talking about, I don't know Nicholas Sturgeons, husband or whatever else they're talking about, and the rest of the world is going I can't pay my bills. They're not interested.

Simon Minty  31:00  
If the survey says 90% of disabled people aren't politicised about the struggle of rights. We know that got to do.  And that was one of the problems of the early movement, which is you either to sign up or you're against us. And you're like, I support you. I just don't want to be part of it. I'm not I'm not like you or I don't think like you put it that way. I am like he but then. So yeah, if I changed it to that question, and then the question would be is the social model part of the politicisation because one of the many points of the social model was to take away the pressure on the individual to struggle to fit in. And to say, look, it's not just about me, it's about the things that can make things very difficult. I want to be me and not have to constantly, you know, hit these barriers, like, I do agree, yes, less barriers, maybe less push. I slightly disagree. And I've said this just the other day to some older disability campaigners. That's because you and I remember how it was. And so well, goodness me look at the progress. But if you're 21, and you're disabled in the broadest sense, you're like, This is terrible. I have to phone up and pre book when I want to get on a plane or trains ridiculous, or I can't get into 60% of the tubes or I've didn't get I got passed over for a job because they were worried about my disability, they think nothing's moved their base camp is our peak. So what that what we think is brilliant changes. They're like, This is rubbish, we need to change it. So I think there's still the push and the anger and the frustration. It's just the social model doesn't seem to be the tool to do it.

Phil Friend  32:51  
Maybe because the tool they use is discrimination. And there's legislation. So if you feel I mean, we did not have rights to sue back when we were doing stuff. Maybe the the what's going on for many disabled people now is not the social model stuff are it's not me, it's them. It's That's discrimination, I'm not putting up with it. So the youngsters are more likely to get very angry back to your help and stuff, get very angry about what they're being subjected to, and take action by raising it through grievances or procedures or something, or just or just go on Twitter, and cause an absolute storm about the lack of access somewhere. Yep. Or, you know, Sophie Morgan on planes is now set up a flight rights type campaign to deal with that. So that you never hear them talking about the social model and saying, Well, it's the bloody aircraft design. It's not me, what they're doing is saying it's not right, and we're going to sue you for it or we're going to make a big fuss or we're going to damage your brand or we're going to you know, that kind of approach. Maybe that's why social model isn't on the radar..

Simon Minty  34:02  
Or the here's the irony, they may be using it. They just don't call it that. But I mean, you're making you're making me think Rose Ailing Ellis, who is a deaf woman she was on Strictly and done all sorts of cool things. She tweeted about a story about some paramedics who couldn't tell the deaf woman that her husband had died. I'm really slightly worried I might got that slightly the wrong way around. And then she addresses all the people. So you know, why can't the children tell the mother about this? As in why isn't the children tell the mother about this? And she's saying no child should ever be put in that position. Why couldn't they just write it down and be like, okay, so you're going through the most traumatic time of your life, and you're going to do pen and paper back and forth. She keeps addressing all of this, the one that I really liked, and it brought me up. So the argument is these paramedics couldn't speak sign language, so couldn't share this devastating news and the pushback was, Well, come on, you got to be realistic here. And she's like, No, we pay our taxes, we have every right to receive the same sort of care. So the the bar is way up, you and I might say, No, there's gonna be times, it might not be practicable. It might not be reasonable. But they're like, no, no, no, every time it must be sorted. So there's still a push. But it's not the same. So maybe you're right is about money and taxes or rights?

Phil Friend  35:34  
Well, once you've established a process in law, that gives you rights to deal with in quotes, unfairness, then you don't worry any more about the theory, do you? I mean, the law got established by us pointing out that the world was full of barriers that should be removed in order for us to be included. Well, that come on, and I know this, I know it isn't perfect. I know it still sucks in all sorts of ways 

Simon Minty  36:05  
Yes you need to get out there. 

Phil Friend  36:07  
At least the laws, I would get out there if it wasn't for the barriers!. But the fact of the matter is that what Rose is doing, what Sophie Morgan is doing, and loads of other disabled people are doing is going case by case we're having you, individual situation. Look at Tanni Grey Thompson on trains, she's always, Frank Gardner talking about train, nobody mentions social model. That's not relevant in one sense. But underpinning it is the idea that I'm not the problem. It's the bloody train. So when Sophie is talking about the planes, she's not saying, Get me off to Lourdes, so I can be cured to get on the plane, I realise I am the problem, because I don't fit the system. She's saying Up yours. Don't think Sophie would ever quite say that not a line Sophie would use but you get my point. So maybe that's what's the interesting. It's not that. I mean, I know Sophie, so do you. And we both know that she does know about the social model. But she doesn't talk about it in that way. 

Simon Minty  37:18  
She does talk about the barriers, she's mentioned everything, but the word the use of it. So maybe we, the point is people are not quoting some theory, people are quoting the application of it. And it was on one little swerve ball, I was asked by a law firm to do an event for them. And there's two people on the call one of them as a wheelchair user. And she started talking and she said, and then there's a social model that will do this and, and then carried on. And instantly, it was like, she just gives me a disability passport and said, I get you I and I knew I immediately got her. And off we went. And by the end of it, when I wrote to her a follow up I had four other things I had to introduce I do think she should have a read of she sharing stuff with me. So there was something it I immediately knew what her politics were, I immediately knew what her approach to disability discrimination and ableism is because she dropped it straight in. She, I'm guessing is early 30s. I know there aren't there's another generation that are using it and like it, but it's clearly not. It is as prevalent, but we're just not phrasing it.

Phil Friend  38:30  
3000 people that were surveyed, or whatever it was, it'd be interesting to see, you and I have spent many, many, many years as have  others of our ilk, educating organisations. Your example of that woman talking about social model is an example of an employer who says we're a social model employer, we're about barrier removal. That's what we do. We get rid of the barriers to mean our staff can do whatever, whatever, that's not an individual member who's disabled. That's that's the organisation has adopted that mantra. No, no, but I can remember saying to employers, Are you a social model employer, or aren't you? Right? Because if you're a social model employer, you get this stuff, it's about you sorting out the barriers, let me get on the Manage whatever my condition is, that's my problem. And, and, and that became a kind of way of saying to managers, you're in the barrier removal business, that's all you have to do. The rest of it's down to us in a sense. So I'm kind of interested in thinking that there will be an infrastructure perhaps in certain organisations that they get the social model stuff, whereas the individuals are much more focused on is this fair or not? Why am I not getting the same cut as everybody else?

Simon Minty  39:48  
I agree with your principle. I mean, in this occasion, this is an individual who is a disabled person who has gone in and said, This is my belief, and I want the organisation to do it, so she's leading it rather than the organisation After the slight add on, it goes back to Peter's point about the messiness. So, whilst I totally agree and get your point of I'm managing the impairment, employer manages adjustments, but even now, I think that's changing when I do my managing mental health in the workplace, when I'm talking about managing managers are becoming way more involved in the impairment and the condition. Now, we can argue the merits of that. But I think, you know, they're not saying, I think you should take some different medication now, or let's do some counselling this afternoon it's not that. But it isn't just a case of you go away and sort that bit out, I'll sort this out, there is much more overlap, there's a lot more emotional intelligence, there's a lot more share how you're feeling with me, managers are expected to do a lot more. And that is the messiness because we know you or me  just managing my condition isn't as simple as that. It's the impact on us. The fact that knob heads keep trying to give me croissants exhausts me. So I, you know, that affects how I work sometimes.

Phil Friend  41:04  
Yeah, but but that's, that's social model. attitudinal shift. I mean, I think what's going on with the managers is that they're learning how to behave. They're learning how to offer support appropriately, they're learning how to be more sensitive to certain situations. That's barrier removal. That's them. upskilling in how to manage someone very complex, say mental health issues that they're trying to manage. What I'm doing is making the landscape easier for them to do that in. But I'm not You're right. I'm not a doctor. I'm not a counsellor. I can't. And I do think there is a danger here that sometimes we expect an awful lot of managers, you know, they're there to their primary role is to get outputs. 

Simon Minty  41:45  
Yeah it's one thing I'm thinking about. So 75% of disabled people don't know about the social model. My concern might be not so much the theory or knowing it. It was the sense of relief, and stroke pride that when you get it, you go, Oh, that's what I thought. I thought I don't mind being me. Why am I spending my whole life compromising or apologising or struggling when, when I don't, I'm okay being me. And that was the immense power of it. So there's a little bit of me, whatever we use, or whatever we create, or however we develop, is not just the fight, take the good fight and remove, you know, move barriers have my rights is this bit of identity and feeling okay about myself, even when I'm not feeling okay about myself? Still feeling okay. I'm just it's me, kind of the social model was so many things to so many people, which was a strength and a weakness. I just wonder if people have never heard of it has that mean, they've never had that enlightenment moment of? It works for me.

Phil Friend  42:59  
I think there's something in that I do. Because certainly I can remember when I had realisation I wasn't the problem. That was a very important moment. But I think going back to Sophie, Sophie Morgan, I should just say to any listeners who don't know, Sophie Morgan's are very, very connected in woman who wheelchair user who had an accident, spinal cord injured, very glamorous, worked as a model TV presenter, she's had a range of careers. And she's latched on because of all the travelling she does to you know, campaigning, it's up to some degree about that. But when if I was a younger woman, wheelchair user seeing her operating, how much would that be saying to me, I shouldn't feel sorry for myself, because what Sophie does is by just simply being who she is, is, is that classic line, a role model? I know we all have to be a bit careful with that. But there is we're seeing more. This is partly your campaigning, we're seeing more people visibly getting on and doing things who you can identify with and say, that means maybe I could do this, which is a bit different from the social model, kind of revolutionary zeal stuff that perhaps certainly I can remember going through.

Simon Minty  44:15  
So long as we support whether it's Rose Sophie, or whoever it may be, because I think this comes at great personal expense. See, I saw a little message she put up people email her or message her and say, I'm so glad you're in a wheelchair, I hope you spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair, you get sexually, or raped or you get murdered or just unbelievable things. And sadly,

Phil Friend  44:38  
I think that seems to be the case for many women, isn't it? You put your head above the parapet and some idiots there to have a right go

Simon Minty  44:47  
So you got a double whammy of pushing to get the rights of wheelchair users using aeroplanes and then you've got a whole load of weird people being abusive. I mean, that's where I'm just like jeapers we need the support. And that's where you do want the community to come back because it's brilliant, the work that these people are doing. But they need to know there's a whole bundle of people got their back because it's exhausting otherwise. Yeah, I I don't know what the next unifying thing is. If we you know, if the social model is fading, what is the next unifying thing? I did speak to one campaigner about this. And they said, even at the height of the disability rights movement, when people were campaigning chaining themselves, all of that stuff, they still thought 25% of disabled people knew about it and 75% didn't, because it's always been that way. And that's okay.

Phil Friend  45:43  
I think I think what we're seeing now, were back in those days, you know, the biggest demos at about 2000 people on them. I mean, it was crazy. It was tiny, by comparison to say, the poll tax, riots and all that stuff. But what I think's happened is that, that now, what seems to be going on because of social media and other ways of doing things, is a sense of what's right and what's wrong. In real life, because I don't walk doesn't mean I can't. Whereas for us, it was about say, Hello. We're out the institutions, we want to join in. Very different. I mean, the fact we even talk now about disabled people flying, that would have been a joke back in 1969, chunking. I'm in hospital mate we don't fly.

Simon Minty  46:37  
ages ago, we had Abbie Brown, and I do feel that we need a bundle of younger people on again, because I sorry,

Phil Friend  46:47  
I'm getting very old.

Simon Minty  46:47  
I mean, it is that the My point being we won't have our finger on the pulse of what they're doing and what they're up to. And I, when I do speak to younger people, and know that this is happening, I'm doing that and going to this meeting, or I'm talking about that, half of me is devastated. Because obviously I want to go to every meeting and give it to everything because that's who I am. But the flip side of me is bloody right. This is great. This is all going on. There's a whole load of stuff happening. Of course, I'm not going to be over it. It's so broad now.

Phil Friend  47:18  
I just I've got this image of all these young people coming on this podcast to share with us what they're up to. And I'm thinking as a parent, the last thing my kids want to tell me is what they're up to when I'm not with them.

Simon Minty  47:33  
No, no, okay, I'm, we, we are all part of this weird, crazy group have probably done too many offensive words in that whole thing. I hope you know what I mean? We're part of this disability gang, whether we like it or not, whether it's difficult or not. And that's the bit where it's shown, I was asked to do an interview for Enable magazine. And it was a great journalist. And I really liked her questions. And you know I chatted and answered and didn't wish on too much. But occasionally, they were just bored. And I was looking, and I was thinking, Oh, my God, she is bored to tears. She's not going to be completely blankly. And as I Oh, no. And also, maybe because I'm used to talking to you, I was expected to come back. And she didn't she just move on to the next question. And afterwards, as I own my life, I just bought the pants off this person. And then I got an email saying, absolutely loved your insight. Absolutely loved what you were thinking. And thank goodness for that. But there is a bit of I don't I'm trying to say I was bigging myself up. But there's also a bit of that as what we can have that depth and insight. But at the same time next generation social model or not, they're finding their way.

Phil Friend  48:44  
But I mean, it strikes me that that would be an interesting conversation to have, where you've got that data that says, you know, social model, etc. How do 25 year olds say feel about that? What is it still relevant as far as they're concerned? Because I think there's a difference between campaigners, and people just who just pick up a cause and want to do something about the cause. That doesn't mean they're not campaigners, but they're not. I saw myself and the people that I was around hanging around with as trying to change things for everybody. And I think Sophie bless her is doing exactly the same thing, but it's targeting one aspects of what's going on whereas the rights Now campaigns were about schools, you know, jobs, transport, education, all of that stuff.

Simon Minty  49:31  
That you said earlier. It's all sorted we got the law we can relax. Oh, no, it's fine that Yeah, I mean, I think it's time we went on holiday.

Phil Friend  49:39  
I think it's time we went and Sophie took over this podcast

Simon Minty  49:44  
It would probably triple our listenership.

Phil Friend  49:51  
We'll haven to give her a mention in the show notes, won't we.

Simon Minty  49:53  
Yeah. You've been banging on about Sophie a lot in this show. I don't know whether you've just well, it's

Phil Friend  49:58  
being serious. I'll tell you why. Because she is everywhere. And I love it. I think it's brilliant. And that is different. That is different actually, that you know, Sophie and others rose Rosey who you mentioned there, they're everywhere whereas we weren't we were just 

Simon Minty  50:17  
Everywhere in nowhere baby.

Phil Friend  50:21  
We ought to draw this to a conclusion we've been talking for a week.

Simon Minty  50:24  
If you have listened this far, thank you so much. I hope it's been of interest. We gone covered of quite a lot of areas. We would love your thoughts if you agree disagree. Really welcome it and equally if you got some young younger people or if you think you're younger person and want to come on just give us a shout because we could bullish out together and Phil and I will learn it would be lovely.

Phil Friend  50:54  
It would no I'm I'm I support that. I think if you're out there and you'd love to come and talk to us about what how you see things that would be fantastic. And you can do that by contacting us at ,

Simon Minty  51:10  
Nice that was like seamless and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, I'm still pushing that and Beacons where you can find all our recent podcasts our YouTube channel, all the all the gizmos.

Phil Friend  51:23  
Lovely. So we will wait to hear from you take care. 

Simon Minty  51:27  
We will be backm next month. Have a lovely time and you know fight the good fight.

Announcer  51:32  
This is The Way We Roll presented by Simon Minty and Phil Friend. You can email us at or just search for mintyandfriend on social media. We're on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Transcribed by

Act of God
Language Matters
Social Model 101