If you have been following my musings for quite some time you may remember that I had the pleasure of attending the Natspec Student Conference way back in December.
Since then Natspec’s campaign to give choice to young disabled people in education has grown into a rather stunning campaign called ‘Right Not a Fight’.
The title (of course) is referring to the battle which many young people have to go through before they can gain funding to get into specialist colleges. I loved the December conference and I was honoured to be a part of the group which coined the phrase ‘Right not a Fight’. On Tuesday I headed out with a group of students from my college to London to take part in a protest with Natspec outside parliament.
The day started bright and early and myself and friend T found ourselves to be the only two students to travel the four hour journey in the car rather than the minibus with the others. The minibus goers said farewell and began their journey, while staff member K was still stuck contemplating where on earth we were going to put the umpteen lunch bags we had been left to transport from the college kitchen. On one of the hottest days of the year and surrounded by egg sandwiches with a distinct absence of cool bags, we were off.
On arriving in London and being presented with our ‘Right not a Fight’ t-shirts we went in search of a cafe and a toilet. To get accessible facilities we ended up going through airport-like security to use the ones in the House of Commons. We felt very privileged, and in the Foyer I met a group of small children who asked me if Noodle the Guide Dog was an MP. “Yes she is” – I replied with a smile. Apologies to the parents who likely later had to explain to their child that dogs, bow-tie wearing or not, cannot be members of parliament.
We were meeting on Old Palace Yard, Westminster and though we were strictly prohibited from using ‘Noise Producing Objects’ myself and T decided to take the risk and bring out our ukulele and Guitar. If I was to be asked previously what I thought the first time I performed in public would be like, I would have never have guessed it would be singing ‘Roar’ along to my ukulele in front of the House of Commons. Several MPs popped over the road to see us, and now that the noise rule had been well and truly demolished the group began to chant too. Other colleges who are members of Natspec were there also and it was lovely to catch up with people from the December conference and meet new friends too. My personal highlight of the day had to be meeting a charming young man called L who I communicated with through Makaton. I have been learning makaton since september, but this was the first time I had used it in real life. He was lovely and even told me about his pet cat.
Many photos, videos, chants and renditions of ‘Roar’ later we were back on the road. It did feel like we had been travelling for an awfully long time for just an hour and a half protest, but it was completely worth it. On the way back myself and T reflected on what our college has done for us, and how close the campaign is to our hearts. L and K joked that they should have had a dictaphone running to take quotes from us. Overall it was a fantastic day and I of course will be supporting Natpsec 100% as this campaign flourishes.