News-022017-(44)

During 2016's UK Disability History Month (UKDHM), we launched our hugely successful social media campaign called #SeeMeNotDisability. This was developed by The Disabilities Trust communications team to highlight a core belief that people should not be defined by their disability.

The theme for UK Disability History Month, (which ran from 22nd November to 22nd December), was centred on “language used to describe people with disabilities and the language people with disabilities use to describe themselves.”

This theme inspired the month long campaign to give service users a platform to tell the world something unique about themselves. The #SeeMeNotDisability hashtag was devised to capture this message and used throughout the campaign.

Service users from across the Trust were involved, which numbers over 1,100 individuals across the UK. People were asked to take part in the #SeeMeNotDisability campaign by telling us something about themselves to share with the public to demonstrate the meaning behind the hashtag. The response was fantastic and the photos of the service users along with their quote were shared throughout the month, to raise awareness about the importance of looking beyond someone’s disability to see the person that they are.

These photos were posted on Twitter and, where possible, relevant links were made to celebrities or organisations, which lead to some high profile retweets and engagement, including Monty Don (BBC Gardeners World presenter), Nadiya Hussain (Great British Bake Off 2015 winner), as well as Russell Grant (British astrologer and media personality), much to the delight of the service users who were featured.

Service user Jason from the centre Jane Percy House in Northumberland, was thrilled when his photo, with the caption ‘I am a skaterboy’ (pictured) was retweeted by skateboard shop ‘Wight Trash’, based on the Isle of Wight. They, like us, are passionate about ensuring people are not discriminated against because of disability and help people of all abilities learn to skate. They were so enthused by the campaign they offered to send out a new hat and t-shirt to Jason as an early Christmas present, which he was over the moon to receive and is modelling in the photo to the right of his original #SeeMeNotDisability picture.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) also retweeted a photo of Steve, who lives at physical disabilities centre Shinewater Court, Eastbourne. He used to be a member of the RNLI, as his caption said ‘I was a lifeboat man’, and as a result of his photo being shared a visit has been arranged for him to go and meet the local RNLI crew and for them to make a trip to the Trust’s centre at Shinewater Court to deliver a talk about the incredible life saving work they do. This has been amazingly positive for both Steve and his fellow service users.

The #SeeMeNotDisability was extremely positive and received good interaction. The hashtag will continue to be used on our Twitter page throughout 2017, so watch this space.