Monthly column: Bedford Disability Awareness Week does Purple Tuesday

BDAW at The Harpur Centre for Purple Tuesday. Image: James Grugeon

We’re very pleased to welcome Laura Peggs from Bedford Disability Awareness Week (BDAW), who will be writing a monthly column to raise awareness of disability matters and the barriers faced by disabled communities.

Laura’s articles will appear each month and focus on the work to support disabled people in Bedford while also highlighting areas that need more focus.

Between 21 to 25 September, Bedford Disability Awareness Week (BDAW) was held at The Higgin’s. The week was a long time in the planning and considering the challenges of Covid-19 it was all that the organisers could have hoped for.

Read: Paralympian Stephen Cooper to join Bedford Disability Awareness Week

BDAW was the idea of Jessica Grugeon and myself, we both live with physical and sensory disabilities and were inspired to try and raise awareness of issues that we have talked about for years but have never been resolved.

During the week we provided several activities for people to find out more about barriers faced by disabled communities and those that help to support us. There was

  • space for charities to advertise their work
  • an information table to signpost individuals to services and groups
  • artwork by individuals within the disabled community and our own art project on display

There was also an experience table by FLAG’s, a social group for people with physical, sensory and/or learning disabilities and their carers, where people could try on glasses that simulate different sight problems, try to change batteries with one hand, or experience being pushed or try to manoeuvre a wheelchair.

Jess and I discussed our ideas with Bedford Inclusive Town (BIT) to get our project off the ground.

BIT has representatives from the council, the Harpur Shopping Centre, and many charities that later came to take part in the week.

Many enthusiastically received our plans but in particular by Sam Laycock from the Harpur Shopping Centre, who offered to do the printing for us, and we soon struck up a friendship.

Purple Tuesday

Disability awareness is a subject that needs to be broached constantly and not just in one week a year. It is important we look for opportunities to raise that awareness and our next opportunity presented itself in Purple Tuesday.

Purple Tuesday is held in early November and is an initiative to promote disability awareness within the retail sector.

Sam Laycock invited the BDAW/FLAG team to bring the disability awareness table to the Harpur Centre. We had a prime position and it was great to have some of the old team back together. We took photos, two of which made the national Purple Tuesday video.

Since our event a lot has developed, it was so well received we are now planning BDAW 2022 and Bedford Independent, who were kind enough to interview us before the event, offered us a regular column which is how I find myself writing this now.

I hope to use this space to discuss issues that are relevant to our community and provide some insight of the day-to-day challenges of disability.

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