Beyond Disability: Adventures of A Blue Badger
By Nikki Fox:
My name’s Nikki Fox and I’m the presenter of 5 live’s Adventures of a Blue Badger. I was born with muscular dystrophy, which means my muscles are all much weaker than they should be. As a result, by my mid-20s I had to start using a mobility scooter to get around. I now look like a young version of Madge from Benidorm with much more hair and less of a tan - and I’m actually disabled!
In Blue Badger I set out to see what it’s really like to be disabled in the UK in 2012. I think it’s pretty darn good, but just in case I’m slightly delusional (let’s bear in mind that as a wobbling disabled child that couldn’t climb stairs, I told everyone that I was going to be a prima ballerina) I thought I’d better check it out with a few other disabled people. So, off I scooted to meet the great and the good of the disabled world.
Along the way I took my scooter on the train for the first time - an exciting experience for both me and for the passengers who didn’t need tickets after the conductor couldn’t get to them because I was blocking the aisle.
Stuck on a train at Paddington
I also braved the London Underground for the first time ever in my scooter. It was, shall we say, a bit of a challenge. Basically, when they say “step free access” they don’t really mean step “free”; they mean the step is anything from nought to 12 inches…on my scooter I can only do the nought! But I did get to my destination eventually with the help of a muscly producer Neil, who had to carry me - scooter and all - on and off the tube.
I spoke to Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson, who’s now become my disabled idol. When I grow up I want to be a Baroness! Some of her stories of blatant rudeness and discrimination really shocked me - listen to the doc if you want to find out how a disabled Baronesss goes to the loo when there’s no disabled toilet.
I also met with the BBC’s Security Correspondent Frank Gardner, who stories of how he’s been treated as a disabled man in other countries around the world was really interesting. I quote: “I wish I’d learnt the Thai phrase for ‘back off’”. But my most challenging interview was being grilled by a bunch of non-disabled 8 year olds, who were mostly interested in finding out whether I could bungey jump or sky dive (not surprisingly I can do neither).
Through the disability access gates on the Underground
I went into this project curious to find out whether I was just too positive about being disabled in the UK; whether I really didn’t pay enough attention to the issues that other disabled people face. I must admit, I heard stories that made me think I should perhaps be more assertive or maybe get a bit more angry when I can’t get into a building or when I find there’s no disabled toilet. But, in general, I think I’ve got it pretty good. I like my attitude to life and, being disabled and often needing help, I really do get to see the best in people.
Nikki Fox presents Beyond Disability: Adventures of a Blue Badger tonight at 10pm on 5 live.
Click here to view a gallery of Nikki’s journey across London.
You can follow Nikki on Twitter at @FoxNikkiFox.