Martin Weller, @2012DaytoDay Challenge

I am a wheelchair user. I haven’t always used a wheelchair, but since April 2010, it has been the best way for me to get around outside, minimising pain and fatigue.

Becoming a wheelchair user is a process, rather like any loss process or a bereavement. One experiences different emotions; from grief and anger, to despair and acceptance. But it’s not a linear process; we might be fine for a while then plunge back through another layer of anger and despair when we realise another plan has to be changed, another holiday cancelled.

It’s not easy for the family of people using wheelchairs, either, because they have to deal with the process the wheelchair user is going through, whilst also following their own loss process. My children have had to adapt to the physical limitations I now have. I can’t pick them up very easily, and I can’t sit with them on my knee for a cuddle as I used to. I’m not able to do the school run.

My partner has had to adapt to becoming a carer, and to being charged with doing a far greater share of helping at home to compensate for my limitations.

Making a decision to plan for the future in a wheelchair is hard emotionally, but it can be hard practically, too. It is often not possible to stay in one’s job, if they cannot make “reasonable adjustments” and this can have a serious impact on the family’s finances (I’m speaking from bitter experience, here!) People are often unaware of how little equipment and adaptations are actually available on the NHS, and how much have to be funded out of the family’s resources.  Lots of activities, favorite holiday venues or meetings with friends have to be changed or cancelled because the venues have poor access.

Recently, I bought a second hand mobility scooter, because self-propelling a wheelchair takes considerable energy, and my energy stocks are very limited.

Despite my initial concern about how it would look to others, this addition to my life has been transformational. Thanks to the scooter, I can now independantly get up and down the hill outside my house, without the need for a push from a strong person! I can now imagine going with my family on a holiday, and being relatively independent to get from place to place without a push.

We still face the problem of a lack of accessible, affordable holiday accommodation. Common to many families with a disabled member, finding a place that we can afford, that I can access, so that our kids can have a summer holiday like any other kids is very difficult.

During the @2012DaytoDay Challenge, Martin Weller, the CEO of a local Charity called Disability Action Yorkshire is hoping to raise funds towards the provision of accessible holiday accommodation for people who use wheelchairs- this kind of accommodation is in very short supply.

Martin will be using his scooter to get from DAY HQ, Harrogate, to DAY Holiday Cottage, Louth between 30th June to 1st July, 2012. This is a journey of 125 miles and he has just 48 hours to complete the challenge!

He’s fundraising for families like mine to have holidays in accessible accommodation that doesn’t cost the earth. Please support him if you can, and follow his progress on Twitter!

For more information about Disability Action Yorkshire, please see http://www.disabilityactionyorkshire.org.uk/ or follow them on Twitter @DisActYorks, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/disabilityactionyorkshire

Follow Martin on Twitter, at @2012DaytoDay. Donate to help Martin reach his £10000 target at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=DAYtoDAYChallenge

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