Sunday 16th October

Over the last few months I have been working with the Guernsey Disability Alliance to deliver an awareness raising campaign centering around video interviews with islanders with hidden disabilities.

When I was originally contacted in November last year I was only more than happy to help. To be offered the change to help drive a campaign that would aim to change perceptions, and hopefully allow people to live easier lives was an honour. The previous We All Matter Eh? Campaign was so successful this served as a logical extension.

However it wasn’t all plane sailing, as each video had to be accessible to the wider community. This meant some of my typical features of a upbeat promotion film I would normally include had to be limited. This meant basic transitions between clips, clear and bright interview subjects and subtitles on the main compilation videos and other social media clips.

I was happy to have filmed 100% of the #HiddenDisabilites videos to date and was privileged to have met so many inspirational people who were happy to share their story with us on camera.

It was enlightening to hear first hand how islanders here in the Bailiwick cope day to day with different disabilities. Whilst it was disheartening to hear some of their stores and how they used to struggle day to day, this was contrasted by the support they have gleamed from friends and family and the generosity of Guernsey public to overcome the small challenges, possessing a hidden disability presents every day.

The Hidden Disabilities we raised awareness of included Brain Injury, Hard of Hearing, Dementia, Cystic Fibrosis, Fibromyalgia, Macula Degeneration & Asperger’s Syndrome.

I myself have made a few changes to the way I live my life in response to what the subjects we have filmed have said:

  • Sandra, who has Asperger’s Syndrome gets irritated by people who leave their brake lights on at traffic lights as it irritates some of her senses, so I make a conscious effort to use the handbrake where possible.
  • I was amazed by the sophistication behind technology some islanders with hidden disabilities make use of day to day. It was eye opening to film subjects talking about their experiences with various coping mechanisms. Hearing dog for example, know when to wake up their ownersin the morning, alerts them to loud noises such as fire alarms and was very affectionate to us but very well behaved whilst filming the short clips in one of the subjects residence.
  • I now notice the variety of background noise in public places and am more conscious to find quiet spaces when meeting anyone who is hard of hearing and endeavour, where possible, to speak clearly so they can lipread if necessary.
  • I am less quick to judge without knowing the full story, as speaking to those who live with Fibromyalgia outlined, their physical state can change daily meaning they may need walking aids some days whilst some days they can walk freely.

Overall the subjects I have filmed as part of this campaign do do lead normal lives, and the best thing is, there are practical ways in which we can support them. I have been very happy to have been involved with the production and promotion of this GDA campaign. I hope that it has demonstrated to the public in a light hearted and in a way that is easy to understand, and I hope the Guernsey public can aim to make one small change that will enable those with hidden disabilities to lead easier lives.

I hope the videos help to raise awareness, stop and make people think, change attitudes and help bring about behaviour change. They have certainly made me stop and think about how I live my life. I have included one of the clips we used on social media from our Cystic Fibrosis series of videos for you to see below. Read more about the #HiddenDisabilities campaign on their website.