By Dawn M. Sanders

Last week witnessed the unleashing of, not only a budget and economic pledges or predictions we all feared, it was laced with the all-too-familiar ideologies embraced by the Tories.

Dawn Sanders at home
Dawn Sanders at home

We have a complex housing bill not yet understood by many, the rush to make every school (primary or secondary) an academy and most noteworthy, the further cuts to welfare benefits – adding to the despair of austerity.

So, focusing on the ‘dis-ability cuts as they are inevitably coined, I’m taking this opportunity to turn it all on its head by trumpeting my passions for equality, empowerment and true dignity…

Take note: I won’t be placing that all-prevailing, crippling label the main stay in this country insist on preceding before us as ‘people first’!

I have argued this point of contention time and again – mostly with ‘people’ with additional needs themselves and, I’m sticking to my guns!

My visual impairment is of course an integral part of my identity, but certainly not the first among equals in being a woman, mother or journalist…

A ‘dis-abled computer mouse is one that doesn’t work, ditto for toilets, cars etc.

Is it overly PC nit-picking? I think not…

As a journalist and writer, words, the connotations behind them and what they represent are hugely meaningful – especially when you’re on the receiving end of those negative connotations, such as lesser than, subordinate, weak – I could go on, but you get the gist.

The point is, just because I and others are visually impaired (or otherwise) doesn’t mean I can’t raise my son single-handedly as I’ve done; I still cook clean and maintain my home; I still have relationships with people in the human way most would expect and, I even enjoy some of life’s more clandestine pleasures…

This all isn’t to say for a second, that I and others don’t get blatant discrimination, especially in looking for work, social environments or on an equal playing field in the game of meeting a possible partner – in fact, being visually impaired, hearing impaired, wheelchair user, with learning/cognitive  difficulties, is often an extremely isolating place to be.

However, the argument of the so-called “social model” which dictates all of these social/practical constraints should dub us as ‘dis-abled to the tune of how society sees myself and others is simply backwards.

It all hinges on, what one cannot do, rather than, what one can do…

Enough said, so when people go out in force – protesting their benefits are being taken away against a backdrop of: “Is This Any Way to Treat ‘dis-abled People” as the banner read, I’m insulted at being considered inherently vulnerable or fragile.

These people who, insist on milking an entrenched victim culture, one I have to fight against every day to “prove myself” a capable parent, employable or dare I say it, a sexual being, are ‘not doing me any favours’!

I’m forever infuriated at being lumped in a category of the “sick and ‘dis-abled” as people with long term illnesses have their own specific circumstances and anyone with severe/complex needs, is an individual – there’s never a one-size-fits-all…

Ultimately, do we not have the right ‘not to be impoverished’?

Why aren’t the likes of Dis-abled People Against the Cuts crying out for more equality in the workplace, employment or closing the loopholes within the so-called anti-discrimination act.

Yes, this government and its ideologies have handed us a double-edged cross to bear: on one hand, because we are rarely taken for our hard earned merits and qualifications when job hunting. For example,  when employers take one look at me I get: “’Uh, how would you manage the stairs, finding the toilets – all delivered with an uncomfortable demeanour…

On the other hand, we’re told we’re scroungers if we’re not working in an environment which doesn’t give us half a chance and, supposedly the government is trying to get us into work?

So, what are they, the ideologists, doing to close the gap of discrimination for those of us who want to use our skills?


The DPAC (‘Dis-abled People Against the Cuts) movement is a short-sighted reactionary group – not offering solutions to the poverty trap most people with additional needs find themselves in – clinging onto the benefits system like a life raft.

In milking the victim culture, they don’t place us on an equal footing when the perfectionist bandits – standing outside nightclubs refusing to let us in under the guise of, health & safety or, we just couldn’t cope with a rough & ready mosh crowd.

By insisting to maintain the lowered status within society’s pecking order, those protesting against benefit cuts really should be protesting on why we are sentenced to a life absent of the same opportunities, most people simply take for granted.

Yes, the benefits we rely on help with added expenses: such as increased taxi fares, holistic therapies managing specific conditions or mobility equipment; (all of which should be secured) but being on state benefits is not an independent or dignified path and one which leaves us wide open to the shenanigans of the state.

Granted, there are those who cannot work due to their conditions, be it mental or physical, yet that should never be the thrust of what is perceived to be living “dignified lives?”

No, in my book of cross-cultural experience, dignity hinges on what I ‘can do’ and making it possible!

I want an empowering campaign which says: yes, I have limitations and additional employment/educational/support needs, but can still contribute to society in a meaningful way.

I want a campaign which says, I have to work harder, so deserve EQUAL PAY, OPPORTUNITIES promoting me as a social/sexual being. Not a campaign/culture of downtrodden, institutionalised oppression…







The more sound I sleep the more wild and disturbing my dreams.

Last night I had:


By Dawn M. Sanders


Tornado destroying a house
Tornado destroying a house


I probably think too damn much, which is reflected in my dreams, but tortured soul that I am – I rarely have a sound night’s sleep and when I do – what my subconscious mirrors are my worst fears and darkest inner demons…

But they’re not just demons, they’re the lifelong emotions I’ve carried around like a part of my physical person all my life.

I’m talking of mainly the rejection, the loneliness – the things I live with like my living room furniture and the dreams always come back to these two entities…

So, onto the dream… I was just dwelling in my little sanctuary of a home – my home within the city that will ‘never’ be home.

It had become really dark outside in the middle of the day as I stood in the middle of the kitchen.

The rain started to poor outside, but it was mainly the wind.

It quickly took on hurricane strength, as if it had come from right off the sea – rocking my solid little brick house and completely spooking me out, as it howled like an on-coming freight train.

The back door kept flying open as the wind pushed from behind my house and I naively put my all-medal braille machine in front of the back door – thinking it would stop it from flying open.

It was all in vein. I tried locking the door, but then the force of the wind ripped off the entire back wall of my house.

I screamed a long curdling psycho-in-the-shower scream, which resonated through the doorway of my subconscious echoing into the empty chamber of my conscious head, as the menacing black/grey was revealed from the volatile elements attacking. My whole world and sanctuary crashed all around me.

Then it was over, with my scream fading and thankfully, I woke up, in my bed – empty of only the soft purring cat curled next to me under the duvet – I’m still here.




By Dawn M. Sanders

I’m in two minds about whether or not I believe in angels. On one hand, they could be considered some Christian ideal of escorting the lucky up to the gates of heaven – on the other, they might be the deities who fly throughout the outer realms of the cosmos or maybe there’s really no such thing at all…

Despite my son’s teenaged angst, frustration with communication barriers and how the frustration comes out – underneath it all he’s my angel – the one who came and saved me, when I was begging for beer money in London’s Camden Town, when I had nothing and nowhere to go and when I was around a lot of people who were just out to get what they could from wherever.

An illustration of a pair of beautiful white spread wings.
Angel Wings

He came to me among the craziest chaos…

At birth he was so tiny, but strong and full of Sagittarian fire and calm contented earth energy.

He was my gift from the goddess and gods.

He had such a shaky start: the feeding trouble, the fact his eyes were opaque when he opened them – trying to see what was around him, the fact I had no money and no legal status – it was all pretty scary.

As a new mum with a severe visual impairment, I was sure the vulture authorities would try to take him from me, but they didn’t and we both weathered the storm in determined resilience.

As he grew, our journey together, especially in the early, happy days of Brighton, was fulfilling, hard and soft and one big learning curve, since I had the extra worries of: how to teach him about the world around him, how he would communicate, the diagnosis of his hearing loss, the hospital stays at Great Ormand Street; I don’t know where my strength came from.

There were several moves: to Wales, then the specialist/residential school, another move.

The separation from my little boy was pain-staking and I always felt I was abandoning him.

It was an emotional yet momentous occasion when he finally came back to start college closer to home.

Yet, the move to Sheffield has been fraught with harassment from the vultures – he has no idea of how much I’ve had to fight fight fight for him and he never will, because he’s always deserved anything I fought for.

When he came of age last year, crossing that all important threshold into adulthood, he took the natural turn that any lad his age would take.

His special needs aside, he became a man, having his first crush on a girl who is deaf at college – my heart went out to him.

The run up to him becoming desperate to spread his wings and fly, was gradual but obvious.

Then the destruction in the house got unbearable. He would often take out his anger, frustrations or just sensory urges out on tearing apart something, flooding the house, ripping up mattresses with his bare steel hands.

I knew what he wanted and what I needed, but he wouldn’t/couldn’t communicate it.

But then he finally did; when I asked/signed ‘why did you do it’ as he was determine to get the entire carpet up from his bedroom floor – I cried as I had spent hundreds of pounds on making the house nice when we moved in.

He finally signed: ‘move out’ ‘move out’.

So there it was and, I could take no more.

Predictably, there have been meetings upon meetings, the usual pushing pushing to be heard and advocating his perspective.

Fucking exhausting – all in the throes of my course assignments at uni etc.

I’ve been sad, edgy and angry all at once.

Yet, when it was settled upon, the flat that was coming up for grabs and even the date he could move in was set, I already started to miss my lad.

In the week before the move, tears were never far from the surface in wading through the everyday mud of life.

Now it’s been two days in his new home and he was ‘so excited’ to go.

He even reassured me when I was signing to him about the increase in responsibilities, hard work – he pointed to himself and then signed ‘fine.

He was telling me he would be fine.

When I signed to him: you’re still gonna be my baby?

A voice inside my head said: “always” as he signed it and turned to sleep on his cushions on the hard wooden bedroom floor.

In his secure new flat with all the support he needs and his new found freedom – well, as free as his life design will allow.

I was tearful yet with an underlying since of relief.

He turns 19 on Saturday and will have a low key but special celebration in his own new home.

My angel, with his baby smooth skin, thick chestnut brown hair, big brown eyes and brightly burning fiery spirit, has unfurled his wings and flown…

A mother loses so much of herself and identity when any child, especially the first, comes along.

They grow, you make sacrifice after sacrifice – always placing them first.

Then, before you know it, they fly…

He’s just on the other side of this big city, and, with his network of support and protection – where do ‘I go’ from here?

He’s hearing impaired/partially sighted. I never in a thousand years imagined life would ever be this complex surrounding my lad.

The compromising isn’t finished. Who will be there to speak on his behalf, make sure he is understood and heard?

I feel like I’m grieving, not only that he’s not here anymore, but because he has chosen to take root in a backward-thinking place, where single mums with visual impairments have no credibility or respect…

The worries haven’t ended, but my lad has started a new journey and so will I…



By Dawn M. Sanders

Right! This rant is long overdue and fully justified!
So here I fucking go…

Yesterday was blighted with stress – not that modern life isn’t, but the sheer amount of stress and agonising irritation I get from people that: just can’t ‘listen’ is incalculable.

I could see it was gonna be hard work strait away.
On the way to the university library, I told the taxi driver at least ten times, the name of the building I was going to.
He hadn’t heard of it and it wasn’t an obvious one that stood out, so I even spelt it for him and he wrote it down.
Yet, it still didn’t matter; the guy drove up and down, back and bloody forth while I was later and later for my meeting with a research assistant.
I was losing patience, because he got onto his control, which I demanded he did, and, unbelievably said something like: “She don’t know where she going.”
By this time I’m half an hour late and my blood is boiling.
I rang the damn taxi company myself and the operator reassured me he was in fact finally going to the right building.
Right, so he was, but only after a stressed out ordeal.

At the shop to get groceries, when looking for the bottle of wine I wanted, I told the shop assistant: “Just a light red, a shiraz/cab sab around £5.”
His response was: “So would you like a rosé?”
FUCK! I had just said, ‘red! – which was now probably the colour of my face.

angry woman giving thumb down gesture
angry woman giving thumb down gesture

Again, I had to repeat the right variation of soya milk about 5 to 6 times, and I get exactly the same kind as I regularly go into this same Co-op…
So, by the time I left the shop I’m thinking, ya know what, forget going ‘anywhere’ this week end, I’m hiding from the world – what’s the point.

People just really don’t listen. And, I won’t even go into trying to get anything sorted over the phone – it’s exhausting!


By Dawn M. Sanders

After Jasper went off with Graham (his main support worker) I set about getting my own ass in gear.

Life had been too full on and stressed for far too long and I was at breaking point – I mean, reaeaeally ‘losing it’!

I had looked forward to just striking out on my own after the botched trip to Wichita in May, hassle free, with only “my needs” to think about and not surrounded with Jasper havoc…

So, got to London and, had the usual night of setting the world to rights with Maryanne and Lawrence – it pisses me off that, they always walk away without me in conversation though.

Maryanne and I surprisingly stayed up till 2 something in the morning, just gabbing – was great.

The next day I had to jump start from a sleepless night.

I was on the train though, clunky bag and all – on my way to Brighton – the city by the sea and my place of Pagan roots.

The hostel I checked into, was cramped and, the gay pride party outside, even at 5 in the afternoon, was already mounting.

I took a taxi to what was supposedly the nearest Co-op shop to get a few provisions and, on the way back, the uncaged animals in the street, really were like headless chickens – throwing themselves in front of the taxi, without an inkling.

The taxi driver bleeped and swore.

I was too tired to really go out. I just wanted to eat something, get somehow reenergised and then maybe…

After the curry and a couple of glasses of red, I walked the lanes I had so many years ago.

There was a funky street band playing and the pavement was thronged with people; sitting at tables, walking stridently in couples or packs or dancing in front of clubs.

The party was fully underway.

It wasn’t just Pride, it was bloody Saturday night in Brighton, mild and with every horney bastard out on the streets, gay or straight.

I packed it in after the dishevelled atmosphere at the White Rabbit pub fight, where the guy kicking off spoke right in my direction after I shouted for him to shut the fuck up.

“Come with me you fucking pussy!” he said directly at me, several times.

I went back to the hostel, the kitchen was locked and,

I was surprised to find two guys in the dorm where I was sleeping – they hadn’t told me it was mixed.

Needless to say, the next day I changed hostels back to where Jasper, Josie and I had stayed last December.

Met my first assistant, Pippa and had a blissful day.

She’s a warm down-to-earth lass and we got on instantly.

I took my stuff to the 2nd place and then we just lunched out on the beach.

I spent the next several days looking at areas, had a massage at the Dolphin clinic where I used to take Jasper as a toddler.

The same receptionist still worked there and remembered me – sweet.

I ate lunch at the unemployed centre – again a blast from the past and there were only a few from when I knew it before.

I walked through the lanes several times, but this time I was determined to check out other areas out of town.

The hostel was just as I knew it would be; full of good natured Europeans, but all they do is eat – constantly in the kitchen, so I didn’t have a chance cooking, fucking no chance!

I spent far too much on eating out, because of the kitchen situation, but c’est la vie…

The most striking thing about being down there was how much they’ve whitewashed the place into some corporate capital.

I really knew this to be what was going on when I visited with Jasper and my mate last December for Jasper’s 18th, but I think I was trying not to notice.

It’s hard not to notice though, you can ‘smell the affluence’ – bouncing from the pavement like the summer sun and sea air itself…

I was shocked to discover the old café, the Brighton Bi Standard near the train station, hadn’t been turned into a Costa coffee joint.

They’re building a tower to look out onto the sea and I was told families would be charged just under £40 – just to look out to sea from a bird’s eye view?


The woman I spoke to about it in the pub said: “It’s getting bigger and uglier by the day.”

The tourist trap mentality has gotten more blatant and, I was put right off how much the place has out priced itself (and the poor).

It really does now live right up to its name, little London by the sea, just now stylishly sports London prices, from everything to pub drinks to taxi fares.

So am I moving there after my Master’s is finished?

Well, I will if I can get a transfer within social housing to one of the nice suburbs I saw.

I’ll have to learn all the cut throughs and back streets to avoid the unruly, sheer numbers of people out on the streets every day.

The last day I was there I did some walking on my own (or tried) and the old familiar yet infuriating knocking my stick out of my hand happened – which used to happen all the time.

I’ll have to make a case that: my son isn’t getting the right support here and I’m struggling to get around Sheffield, because it’s true.

But, Sheffield has many things going for it – despite its crazy layout, incompetent local authority and somewhat backward/macho-ness.

It’s gritty, down-to-earth and has good universities.

The main thing is, it’s affordable and hasn’t been taken over by young urban professionals.

It celebrates its working-class heritage with pride and has preserved its industrial history, again with pride and in good taste.

While life is full of big dilemmas, this will certainly be one of those…

The age old tug-of-war between north and south, just manifesting in mine and Jasper’s own choices – weighing up the pros and cons.

Me and a smartly dressed Brighton busker
Me and a smartly dressed Brighton busker




Josie (my closest mate) got here just before mid-day and, w – kitchen stuff packed into two bags, camp stove and bedding slung into her treasured transit van, she calls Trevor, then we hit the road.

I thought we made such amazing time, but then I found out she was going 80 MPH down the motor way – wouldn’t expect anything less from a fast moving, quick thinking lass…

Tickets checked at the gate and, the usual Green gathering chaos glimmered, but only a little, as there was a mix up with mine and Debbie’s crewing codes – got her in as my PA.

We set about setting up and people were welcoming and warm – was such a relief to be back in the field, away from Babylon and all its trappings.

Eventually Jasper, that strapping lad of mine, Josie and I went out to play and check out the music – it was all of course happening and fully underway.

Predictably, we got back late and collapsed.

Then the rain came, down in sheets; everybody knew it was threatening, as menacing black clouds hung overhead and the humidity closed in on us all.

So Friday was slow-paced, but fine. I was already knackered by the end of the day, but couldn’t pull myself away from the fire.

There was no space for me to do my massage, so Carole, the main coordinator of the assisted camping, tried to rig up the accessible shower as a space, but as long as I had takers.

Well, I wasn’t going to stay tied to the place, so we left it until the full threat of rain went.

Somehow I knew it wouldn’t happen and, it didn’t – next year I’ll just bring my own space via a bigger walk-in two roomed tent.

Terry and Debbie’s kids ran around gleefully, as did all the others – it’s always nice to see, somewhere where they can run around and be free, be like children and breathe fresh air, which they can’t in Babylon…

I needed a topical something for the radio show on Sheffield Live for this week, so caught a couple of good workshops.

The most interesting, was the Reclaim Shakespeare theatre group and their ‘To BP or Not to BP acts – exposing British Petrol and their dirty sponsorship of Shakespearian plays at all the high flying theatres.

I had a much needed massage and Friday seemed to merge into Saturday.

Was seriously spaced when I heard from behind me: “Dawn, its Rona.”

I turned around instantly, because it was the moment I had been waiting for – I had finally ran into the friends of mine from Brighton who I used to hang with and knew really well.

We chatted and hugged – they were really happy to see me and I was chuffed to finally be seeing them.

I eventually got their phone numbers – giving Mike a rundown of the journey I’ve had since leaving Brighton.

He said some encouraging things and I just thought, this is yet another sign, another nudge to maybe move back down?

It could be wishful thinking, but then the tarot card reading I had over the weekend was promising, but it was slightly tricky to tell in which direction it was encouraging.

I think the gist of it though, was I would have to decide, weigh the pros and cons either way, but the cards as per usual, were shockingly accurate to mine and Jasper’s current crossroads in the ongoing journey.

I had the card of compromise, the card of silence (in contemplating my big dilemma); I had a card called ‘we are the world’ directly symbolising my relationship with the world and how it perceives me, my son or anyone who’s “different”.

The reader said something about needing to be more grounded and he’s right.

The most interesting cards I had were of a dove flying out of a cage to join some doves overhead, which were already free, then the letting go card; the one I wasn’t at all surprised to have come up. It nearly made me cry, because I knew it was speaking to me and telling me, I need to learn to ‘let go’; with Jasper and probably so many other things.

Sunday came and, I hastily packed and then got ready for delivering the talk on Sexability.

I stayed in my tent as long as I could, as sleep was intermittent and every inch of me ached or was just exhausted.

There were apparently 8 or 9 people at the talk, with a few stragglers outside – it went okay and the recording came out good apart from Debbie’s reading of the article being a bit too distant from the recorder and laced with a lot of background noise.

In the end though, I was relieved and got good responses.

I hated leaving, but I was exhausted.





21st June 2015


Yesterday I chose to go up to Nine Ladies instead of the anti-austerity demo down in London – not that I could have gone anyway, held back by my son’s bullshit inflexible support agency constricting my life to rigid time slots…

Having said that, I felt: I’d rather celebrate the season, which is just as important to me as standing up for my democratic rights and protecting all the livelihoods this regime is determine to destroy.

Yet, I also feel so damn jaded after the last 5 years of going to demos, sitting in meetings, being a part of organised resistance, yet pounding our heads against a wall of stoney indifference, coupled with fighting utter disempowerment on a personal level, I decided firmly against the demo.

Even the day up at the stone circle had to be cut short just as the party was heating up, because I managed to stretch being out ‘til 7, but then was late anyway…

The other factor of course, was my PA not wanting to stay the night, due to her two small kids and being put off the druggies and crusty vibe of the last time she was there, all fair enough, but it just meant I was held back by people and circumstances I have to rely on, just to supposedly make life function in the way I want it to.

I can understand the need to be sensible, but it doesn’t mean being there, you have to be a part of the bullshit brigade…

I’m still young enough to party and go mad from time to time, but…

As it stands, summer solstice has blustered in, grey and, although not dropping rain just yet, there was spitting-in-the- wind when I went outside to rescue the sofa throw from the washing line.

So today I’ll get some writing done, do my exercise routine I’ve abandoned all week, have a good long bath, make my Sunday omelette and re-pot the lavender plants I bought the other day, but not necessarily all in that order.

I said to my trusty assistant/friend yesterday, as we walked through the woods on Stanton Moore, I just feel stifled and caged in.  It’s been such a bloody horrifically long winter and I feel so hemmed in, held back and constricted.

I want to ‘get out’!  I need to be outside, be among nature, clear my head and reclaim my sanity – well I didn’t go as far as saying that, but she completely got it…

So, we drove back to the concrete jungle of Sheffield, back to my cage and sanctuary, where I made a simple dinner for my son and I and sat outside listening to the pigeons on the roof tops, the synthetic ting ting of the next door neighbour’s mobile phone/murmured conversation.

The chimes tinkled in the gentle breeze as I sat in my back garden, but it was a far cry from connecting with an old tree with a network of trunks and branches, or a rhododendron leisurely spread out amongst neighbouring trees, with it’s bright beautiful lilac, flowers in all their magnificence…