A Picture of 2021

It’s New Year’s Eve, a time when we take stock of the year that’s been and look ahead to the next. Usually, I write a post about everything that’s happened, but this year I decided to represent it as a drawing instead. So here’s a visual record of what’s stood out for me in the last twelve months. Rather than writing an image description in the alt text so it’s only picked up by screen reader users, I’ve decided to make the whole post the image description. Here goes:

A colourful digitally drawn image made up of a circle divided into twelve equal slices. The months of the year are written around the outside.   January is in the bottom left corner and includes a drawing of David, a smiling black man with one arm slightly raised in an open gesture. Stars stretch out from his hand towards the centre of the circle alongside his name.   The start of 2021 was extremely difficult because we lost our friend and colleague David to Covid. Losing David has echoed through the year, but thankfully we were able to come together and celebrate his life in September.   February sits above January on the circle. On a background of deep purple, bold lettering spells out YADP, which stands for the Young Artists Development Programme, a pilot programme we launched in February that commissioned ten young disabled artists to explore an idea – you can read about the projects in our guest posts section. This was one of the many our Solidarity Worker Katie brought together.   March is bright bule and is the month of PIF, our Practical Intervention Fund, which provided small items for 55 people to improve their individual or family wellbeing. The image shows off some of things we funded: sensory toys, noise cancelling headphones, trampolines and adaptive cutlery as well as weighted blankets and massage mats.   For April I drew a red-faced Boris Johnson, flanked by Union Jacks, with a speech bubble coming out of his mouth that reads “Blah, blah, blah, lie, lie, wash your hands”, which to me sums up his leadership. While April saw COVID restrictions begin to lift, for me this wasn’t the case and my life has continued to be very limited in many ways.   May’s segment is the cover of The Right Way To Rock a book by children’s author Nat Amoore. I was a sensitivity reader for this story and I loved supporting Nat to craft a joyful authentic character with Tourettes who’s right at the heart of a great adventure. The cover shows a child with a guitar rocking out.   June has a bright green background on which is one of the four designs for our Solidarity Stickers which launched that month. The sticker features a blue cloud with a rainbow arcing above it and the text reads: ‘There’s more than one Touretteshero’.   July saw the end of the Touretteshero Delivery Service – a small scale delivery round we’d been running across London since the start of the pandemic. We used the Touretteshero van to deliver food to disabled and chronically ill people and elders who were experiencing access and or financial barriers to food and other essentials. There’s a drawing of the van laden with food. The real van doesn’t have wings, but my drawing of it does!     August shares a tiny bit of an image I created for a mural to celebrate the Paralympics. You can find the full image and audio description here. The text reads “Together We Rise”, which sums up how I’ve felt about Disability Culture and solidarity this year.   September’s slice has a rich yellow background, the logo for our Future Scribers project squiggles across it with a white pen jutting out at jaunty angle. Future Scribers was a creative collaboration between us, our live scriber Amber Anderson, and six disabled illustrators, to explore live scribing – the art of creating visual records of conversations and ideas.   In October I got a new power wheel that attaches to the front of my chair. It’s given me new freedoms despite the continuing need to shield from COVID. The image shows me in my bright blue wheelchair with the neat electric wheel attached to the front. I am clearly very pleased with it!  In November a process that had started in January and taken up a lot of energy finally came to a successful end when my social care support at home transferred to an NHS personal health budget. This is represented in the image by two interconnected hands which are stretched into the air in mutual support and solidarity.   For December I’ve used an early version of the snow globe image that became our Christmas Card. The globe is held up by love, which is represented by hundreds of bright red hearts. Above it, snowflakes made from lateral flow tests float towards the centre of the circle. This is to acknowledge the continued impact that COVID is having on all our lives.

A colourful digitally drawn image made up of a circle divided into twelve equal slices. The months of the year are written around the outside.

January is in the bottom left corner and includes a drawing of David, a smiling black man with one arm slightly raised in an open gesture. Stars stretch out from his hand towards the centre of the circle alongside his name.

The start of 2021 was extremely difficult because we lost our friend and colleague David to Covid. Losing David has echoed through the year, but thankfully we were able to come together and celebrate his life in September.

February sits above January on the circle. On a background of deep purple, bold lettering spells out YADP, which stands for the Young Artists Development Programme, a pilot programme we launched in February that commissioned ten young disabled artists to explore an idea – you can read about the projects in our guest posts section. This was one of the many our Solidarity Worker Katie brought together.

March is bright bule and is the month of PIF, our Practical Intervention Fund, which provided small items for 55 people to improve their individual or family wellbeing. The image shows off some of things we funded: sensory toys, noise cancelling headphones, trampolines and adaptive cutlery as well as weighted blankets and massage mats.

For April I drew a red-faced Boris Johnson, flanked by Union Jacks, with a speech bubble coming out of his mouth that reads “Blah, blah, blah, lie, lie, wash your hands”, which to me sums up his leadership. While April saw COVID restrictions begin to lift, for me this wasn’t the case and my life has continued to be very limited in many ways.

May’s segment is the cover of The Right Way To Rock a book by children’s author Nat Amoore. I was a sensitivity reader for this story and I loved supporting Nat to craft a joyful authentic character with Tourettes who’s right at the heart of a great adventure. The cover shows a child with a guitar rocking out.

June has a bright green background on which is one of the four designs for our Solidarity Stickers which launched that month. The sticker features a blue cloud with a rainbow arcing above it and the text reads: ‘There’s more than one Touretteshero’.

July saw the end of the Touretteshero Delivery Service – a small scale delivery round we’d been running across London since the start of the pandemic. We used the Touretteshero van to deliver food to disabled and chronically ill people and elders who were experiencing access and or financial barriers to food and other essentials. There’s a drawing of the van laden with food. The real van doesn’t have wings, but my drawing of it does!

August shares a tiny bit of an image I created for a mural to celebrate the Paralympics. You can find the full image and audio description here. The text reads “Together We Rise”, which sums up how I’ve felt about Disability Culture and solidarity this year.

September’s slice has a rich yellow background, the logo for our Future Scribers project squiggles across it with a white pen jutting out at jaunty angle. Future Scribers was a creative collaboration between us, our live scriber Amber Anderson, and six disabled illustrators, to explore live scribing – the art of creating visual records of conversations and ideas.

In October I got a new power wheel that attaches to the front of my chair. It’s given me new freedoms despite the continuing need to shield from COVID. The image shows me in my bright blue wheelchair with the neat electric wheel attached to the front. I am clearly very pleased with it!

In November a process that had started in January and taken up a lot of energy finally came to a successful end when my social care support at home transferred to an NHS personal health budget. This is represented in the image by two interconnected hands which are stretched into the air in mutual support and solidarity.

For December I’ve used an early version of the snow globe image that became our Christmas Card. The globe is held up by love, which is represented by hundreds of bright red hearts. Above it, snowflakes made from lateral flow tests float towards the centre of the circle. This is to acknowledge the continued impact that COVID is having on all our lives.

Plenty of other things happened this year that haven’t made it into this image, and there have been many seeds sown for new creative work that make me feel hopeful and excited for the coming months. 2021 has been a year of sadness, solidarity, shielding, and for me, sausages – when baby Sausage joined our family in August.

I’m going into 2022 open to whatever comes my way and ready to advocate for myself and others as necessary. Whatever your plans tonight, or your hopes for the New Year, I wish you a joyful and safe start.

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