World Day of Social Justice – Cheryl’s story

By Elisa
Posted: 20/02/2024

At Headway East London we often reflect on the lack of reliable, quick and easy access to public spaces for those who have mobility impairments. 

For World Day of Social Justice, we are sharing the story of our member Cheryl, who dedicated her life as a civil servant to the community and took action to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

“My name is Cheryl and I am a member of Headway East London. 

I had a stroke in September 2019. Before my brain injury, I used to be an Estate Site Manager for the local authority. I am still looking at how to find some kind of new norm. I know I’ll never get back to my working life because my job was very hectic. 

My job was about improving living standards, safety and accessibility of the community areas, not just for the residents, but for all the people that were using that space as a shortcut. I was checking out how to make things better for people with disabilities. 

Every now and again, I’d get called up to work as a presiding officer at the polling stations. Sometimes, I’d find no ramp for people in wheelchairs to access the polling stations. That really got to me because everyone should be entitled to vote.

Once I found a board in one of the blocks and used it as a ramp. There was a girl who wanted to vote, and she trusted me to push her up that makeshift ramp I made.  

Now that I am myself on a wheelchair, I understand how difficult it is. It is true that not everything is levelled up. Sometimes things are too high. Every shop seems to have a gap or a step, and sometimes doorways are not wide enough. Train and tube stations are a no-no, sometimes there are no lifts, or they don’t work. Many places are accessible, but it’s still not good enough. I hardly go out now and only when my daughter drives me around with the car.  

I think people should be educated on these issues, and there should be more compassion and understanding. I used to be able to walk and run and live a very hectic life. You don’t know what’s going to happen to you tomorrow.  

I am proud of what I did at work, and I think I left a mark because people are still asking about me and my staff is still calling me. They give me updates on what they’re doing. They tell me that my work is still being admired and they gave me a plaque with my name.”

In summer 2023, we brought a temporary ramp in the Curve Gallery of the Barbican as part of our differently various exhibition. We hope for equal access to be a permanent feature in the Curve and all public spaces and cultural institutions.
In summer 2023, we brought a temporary ramp in the Curve Gallery of the Barbican as part of our differently various exhibition. We hope for equal access to be a permanent feature in the Curve and all public spaces and cultural institutions.

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Posted: 16/04/2024

If you would like any additional accessibility options that are not featured please contact info@headwayeastlondon.org