Liz is a crip activist and actor, now trying to gain experience as a stand-up comedian. Originally from the North West, she recently moved to London, lured by the bright lights and the promise of fame and fortune. She's still waiting.
Holidays with help
20th May 2010
During those heady hospital summers, I would dream of traveling the world or even just going to Ibiza with my gang from school - but couldn’t imagine how this would ever be achieved.
How could someone like me travel the world? I used a wheelchair. What about access? I needed 24/7 personal assistance. Who could come away with me? I was a student. How could I afford it? I had so many questions and with a lack of information and no internet to help me out, very few answers.
I decided to get around the problem of not having my own personal assistants, or funding to pay for them to accompany me, by going away on a ‘special’ group holiday for disabled people.
By the time we were all up and dressed in the morning, lunch had arrived. We didn’t get out very much that week but did play a lot of bingo. I decided that I wasn’t a group holiday kinda gal.
She was an early riser ... I wanted to lie in. She drank sangria ... I preferred lemonade, she liked the barman ... I was the gooseberry. We were both young and hadn’t learnt the language of compromise.
By the end of the week, I wasn’t asking for what I wanted or needed and both of us were miserable. At least it was sunny.
At university, a team of volunteers provided me with my daily assistance. I took one of them, Anna, with me when I stayed with my relatives in Canada in the summer of 1991. This worked out well; Anna helped me out and, although I had to find the money for both our flights, my cousin was providing bed and board which really helped to keep the costs down.
What do you do, for example, when the person who’s meant to be there to help you seems to be having more fun than you are? There were times that summer when Anna would go off for a walk along the beach, for a dip in the pool or for a game of volleyball whilst I sat there on the sidelines going nowhere with my wheels wedged in the sand. When we went to Niagara Falls, Anna wanted to stop to take pictures every few metres and to visit every single souvenir shop. I didn’t. Should I have said something to her or should I have been more tolerant? Would it have made a difference if I’d been paying her? Twenty years on, I still don’t know all the answers.
Sometimes, the only solution has been to save up, though it is a little bit hard to escape those feelings of resentment when you are forced to pay for a holiday for two because of your access needs. And it's the expense that might explain why this summer, I’ve decided to take a camping holiday in the Lake District .
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