#MoreThanAMutha is all about celebrating the things that women are, as well as being amazing mothers. In a world where many women feel like they lose their identity when they become a mum, it is important to celebrate and shout that we might be mums, but we are not only that and we are still a force to be reckoned with and Laura Rutherford is one hell of a force! As is a passionate campaigner for disability rights, Laura is fighting to make big changes for her son Brody & other disabled people. Here she shares her story.
I’m #MoreThanAMutha, I’m a woman who is passionate about inclusion and human rights.
Like all mums, my world changed when my first born, Brody came along, but because Brody was born with an undiagnosed genetic condition, my world is almost unrecognisable to the one I lived in before becoming a mum. You see, my eyes have been opened to all sorts of things that I used to never think about (not proud).
Things like accessibility issues, the main issue for my family, being toilets, or rather the lack of them.
Did you know disabled toilets aren’t usable by all disabled people?
At six years old, Brody still wears nappies. If your child stopped wearing nappies at a neuro-typical age, you probably don’t know that the world stops caring about how your child is changed when they outgrow a baby changing table. It’s not something I’d ever considered before having Brody.
The truth is, unless a place has what is known as a ‘Changing Places’ toilet – a larger space with an adult sized changing bench and a ceiling track hoist – there is nowhere for us to change Brody when we’re out.
So our options are to stay at home, leave him in a dirty nappy, change him in our car boot or even worse – change him in on a toilet floor.
Pretty dire isn’t it? This isn’t an issue that ever crossed my mind until I had Brody. We don’t tend to think about how others go to the toilet do we? It’s a private thing after all. But now I’m all too aware and I’m determined to change the situation.
My child deserves to access his community and to be able to go the toilet safely, and with dignity – just like you or I. Going to the toilet is a basic human right!
Of course this issue doesn’t just affect us. It affects hundreds of thousands of disabled people in the UK – children and adults. From people with autism and learning disabilities to people with bowel cancer and dementia. There are lots of different users. And of course their families and carers need the facilities too. Because if Brody doesn’t go, we all don’t go. Both Brody and his sister have to miss out on fun days out if there is no toilet available for Brody to use, which isn’t very fair is it?
I’ve made some amazing friends since I started campaigning, one of them is the brilliant Sarah Brisdion, who came up with the idea of taking a selfie on the loo to raise awareness back in December. Her ‘loo advent’ caught the attention of the media and was fantastic publicity for the campaign. She even got the guys on The Last Leg involved and they took a loo selfie on the show!
To keep raising awareness, Sarah came up with the idea of a ‘Looathon’ and on Friday, 11th May campaigners like me will be joining her sitting on a toilet in the window of the Bath Store in Baker Street, London.
In full view of passers by.
Yes it will be humiliating.
Yes we will have very little dignity.
But this is just a fraction of what our kids go through. What so many go through. And we are desperate to keep this issue in the news. Keep it in peoples minds.
Let everyone know that this problem exists – so that maybe one day, it won’t anymore.
One of my wishes is that when Brody is an adult, I won’t be struggling to change him in my car boot. I won’t be afraid to take him somewhere incase he needs the toilet. I won’t have to worry about his dignity, his safety and him being disabled by society.
I’m more than a mutha, I’m a campaigner and I’m getting my #pantsdown4equality. And I hope you will support all of us that do.
One thing I’ve learned in the past six years is that life can change at the drop of a hat. Tomorrow this issue could affect any one of you or someone you love. So let’s fight together to stop it. You can help to raise awareness simply by telling people about this event, explaining the issue and asking them to tell others.
If you’d like to support Laura’s campaigning you sign this petition, or join her at the event at Bath Store, Baker Street, London on 11th May – I’ll be there too!