Little Cogs Make Big Things Turn
My colleague Lucy and I attended an event recently. Little Cog, a disability arts organisation, hosted Love and Hate in the Tees Valley: Champions of Change. The event was the culmination of a project aimed at raising the profile of disability hate crime. The project involved workshops in schools and with statutory bodies designed to raise awareness, challenge perceptions, create art and inspire champions of change – people willing to work with Little Cog on continuing to highlight this issue and ultimately bring it to a stop.
Little Cog founder Vici Wreford-Sinnott introduced the event by discussing how she, like many disabled people, had almost come to accept abuse as a fact of life. The aim of the project, Vici said, was to highlight that not only is any abuse unacceptable but to target the ‘drip drip effect’ of low level discriminatory behaviour that, for some people, is a daily occurrence. Vici showed that hate crime constitutes not only big cases that make news headlines, such as the deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter Francesca, but also much wider discriminatory attitudes in society that continue to have a pervasive effect.
The event saw performances from singer and disability campaigner Karen Sheader, a presentation from advocacy group Independent Voices, along with poetry and film screenings. Falling Through the Cracks, a documentary by Shoot Your Mouth Off films, told the story of two partially sighted sisters on Tyneside who had experienced continued abuse and attacks on their home for many years. The abuse had lessened with the introduction of Community Support Officers and one sister said she was willing to “march all the way to Downing Street” if the austerity cuts threatened to take that support away.
There was much talk last year of the success of the Paralympics marking a shift in societal attitudes to disability. Whilst that may be the case to an extent, the work of organisations such as Little Cog continue to show that despite the glow of the Olympics there is still a long way to go.
If that all sounds very worthy, I must say the overall mood of the Little Cog event was one of fun, encouragement and optimism. Vici closed the event by saying that they chose the name Little Cog for their organisation as “little cogs can make big things turn.”
Recent TV programmes such as Channel 4’s ‘Born to be Different‘, which follows six children and their families, have demonstrated the struggles of growing up with a disability and the strengths needed to cope. This is another little cog that can help tackle and stop disability hate crime.
by Michael Edwards