Last October – sponsored by Scope - I spent 6 days at Campaign Bootcamp - learning how to improve my campaigning skills.
Scope are sponsoring two further places at the next Campaign Bootcamp in June, and you can apply now! All the info you need to apply is here: www.campaignbootcamp.org/apply
Campaign Bootcamp is a year long training accelerator for anyone who wants to learn how to campaign effectively. It starts with a week of intensive training, and is followed up with further training, mentoring and support.
I know that you might not be convinced this is for you though, so here’s a bit more about my experience. Lets start with some important facts:
Did you know disabled women are twice as likely as non-disabled women to experience domestic abuse?
Did you know that disabled women are less likely to receive help from domestic violence support services because they are less likely to believed?
Here’s the thing. I did know these facts. And I knew - and still know - a lot of people don’t know about disabled women experiencing domestic violence and the lack of support for them. I also knew I needed to get this information out into the world and change this reality for other women. I was daunted by the size of the challenge and the obstacles in my way.
And that’s where Campaign Bootcamp came in for me – as it’s one thing knowing you need to campaign… and its another actually campaigning.
And then came another factor. Disability. Having an impairment can be a right pain in the arse day-to-day. There is always an extra few steps to think about before you can get on with the task you want to do.
And this was true of disability and campaigning. I needed to know how to campaign and I also needed to work out the life-hacks I can use to make campaigning work alongside the joys of chronic illness.
Disability is caused by the way society is organized – and the obstacles this creates, rather than by a person's impairment or difference.
So, people need to campaign to remove the obstacles. But, for disabled people to do that we need campaigning methods which remove the obstacles.
Enter: Campaign Bootcamp and the Susan Cook Scholarship.
Campaign Bootcamp worked with me to find the best way for me to gain from the programme, develop and integrate my skills and to take this into my campaigning.
But don’t worry, they didn’t only work like this with me - in that awkward way people are drawn to help you because of just seeing disability. Right from the start, Campaign Bootcamp recognised and celebrated all participants as individuals within the group. We built on our strengths, were supported to overcome our weakness and shown that failure happens - and it is something you can learn from and build on.
Like everyone else, I could talk to the organisers and work out how to get the most from each day - where to focus and where I could catch up. I was treated in the same way as everyone else in that my differences were respected and I was seen as a person. There was no awkward ‘displaining’ where people tried to tell me how my disability worked or what I could or couldn’t do. I didn’t have to worry about how to minimise how disabled I seemed - or worry about what other people thought.
I could just get on with what I was there to do: learning how to campaign.
I can’t really explain just HOW MUCH I learnt in that time, but I can say that the effect has been incredible. After Bootcamp, the campaigning rather snowballed… suddenly I had access to a wide network of support and methods to take things forward. And opportunities just kept coming up - whether chairing a meeting in the House of Commons for Operation Disabled Vote or talking at Women of the World festival about disabled women’s experience of rape.
Currently, alongside other Bootcampers, I’ve started the #ICchange campaign to demand government action on ending violence against women. (Nudge, nudge: check out the website/sign the petition here: icchange.co.uk)
My biggest lesson of all though, is I’ve learnt just how much the obstacles I thought of as un-moveable, can be broken down. (Cheesy right?) But, if you want proof - you now know that disabled women are twice as likely as non-disabled women to experience domestic violence… and that you can sign a petition to help create change in support services… so that’s an alright bit of campaigning for me!
If you want to break down some barriers, apply to Campaign Bootcamp today. All the info you need to apply is here: www.campaignbootcamp.org/apply or you can contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.