As I’m beginning to write this post, it’s been a few days since I was at the NEC in Birmingham, and I am still on quite a high from The Occupational Therapy Show. I cannot wait to get into this blog, and ‘re-live’ the experience.
Like many of us, I have had a lot fewer exciting days than usual since March 2020. So, The Occupational Therapy Show has certainly been the highlight of my year. Of course, my graduation was amazing and still beyond my wildest dreams but the #TheOTShow was really something else and this is why…
Back in April, I got contacted by The OT Show saying that they had been following my work, and would love for me to come to Birmingham, and talk at this year’s show. Of course, I said yes, I couldn’t believe they wanted me to talk and the fact that it was happening in person was so exciting. Don’t get me wrong, it was going to be a lot more stressful and certainly would use up more energy but I was up for the challenge.
I asked them exactly what they wanted me to talk about. I knew I was going to discuss some of the work I’d been doing, as I was still a student at the time and so, wasn’t exactly an expert in any area of practice yet. With the conference having set themes I thought they may want me to focus on specific examples like my virtual placement. But when they replied, “Just talk about you.” I was taken back. Did people really just want to hear about me?
A few months had passed, and I hadn’t given it much thought, as I was concentrating on finishing university and that took up enough of my time. Then AbleOTUK gets a message from BAMEOTUK saying that along with LGBTQIA+OTUK we’d been asked to do a joint talk about the importance of the affinity groups.
I had a lot of work to do once finishing my studies preparing for not one but two talks in Birmingham at The OT Show.
The weeks leading up to the show were of course really busy but very exciting. I finally got the program for the conference and receiving that made me so thrilled and fortunate to be going in person to experience the event. Unfortunately, I could only make one day of the show which I was gutted about at the time, yet now that I have been, I am quite glad as I wouldn’t have had the energy to attend both days.
It was a jam packed day!
I was in job-hunting mode my Dad came to support me and was a massive help in singing my praises when networking- thank you, Dad. I on the other hand wasn’t so good at that bit. The combination of a loud environment and a speech impairment don’t quite go hand in hand. Yet, what was interesting was the number of supplier stands that thought I was service user and not an Occupational Therapist… Yes, let’s leave that soapbox for another day.
Talk number 1! This was the affinity talk and what a great talk it was. I learnt so much about both BAMEOTUK and LGBTQIA+OTUK. We discussed intersectionality, and how we are stronger together; but also recognised how much work the individual groups have to do, to improve diversity within the profession. It was an absolute pleasure to meet some of the members of these groups. In case you didn’t know, people do exist in real life and not just on Twitter!! I am still in contact with both Anne-Marie from BAMEOTUK and Rachael from LGBTQIA+OTUK and, I don’t think the collaborations will end there, what a pleasure it was to take the stage with you both.
After the affinity talk, it was almost time for me to take the stage solo, but before I did, I attended Rachel Booth’s talk about her journey with Long-Covid and Cerebral Palsy and how this had made her challenge ableism within practice more as a disabled Occupational Therapist (we have got to represent- #TeamOTCP). Rachel’s talk was beyond powerful and gave me a lot to reflect on, so I would like to say a massive thank you to Rachel for being so vulnerable with us and being such a great advocate.
My solo talk was straight after Rachel’s in the same theatre… Talk about pressure!
After months of planning my talk, it finally came around and there are no words to describe how I felt on that stage. Of course, I was nervous and mindful having it being a controversial talk that highlighted ableism in practice; but having that platform to highlight these issues was just so invigorating. Reflecting on this talk, makes me extremely emotional because I was so vulnerable in my talk, and I just want to say a massive thank you to The OT Show for having me, and a huge thank you to all those that listened to my talk. I had people come up to me afterwards thanking me for my work within virtual placements, and thanking me for highlighting internalised ableism as some didn’t know about this. It was so special!
I loved every second of the day from start to finish. As a blogger, you’d think I’d have more words to describe this day but I don’t, even now 2-weeks later…
Yes, it is now 2-week after the conference and a week after I started writing this post and, what a week it’s been. My inbox and social media have just been full of positive messages and future collaborations that have risen from attending The OT Show. So much so, that I’ve even had to change the title of this blog as originally I was going to talk more about specifically speaking at the conference, yet, it’s taken a different turn.
I’ll say it now The OT Show has changed my life. I was already feeling emotional starting this blog post; but at the moment I am overcome with emotion and I am crying as I type (I’m not ugly crying, just for the record). I can’t yet discuss the opportunities that have risen from The Occupational Therapy Show, the reasons being that nothing is set in stone yet and the other being that I’m already over 1150 words into this post so I need too slowly be bringing it to an end. But, after what has been a busy six months with getting myself registered with the HCPC and finding a job and presenting at The OT Show, I finally feel like I am where I was always meant to be.
Look out for part 2 of this post that should hopefully come out soon, where I can try to begin to explain in more detail the significant impact The OT Show has had on me.
So, I am just want to say a massive thank you for reading my blogs while I have been developing Not So Terrible Palsy and an extra special thank you to everyone who has supported me this year, especially in the past 6 months, it’s made all the difference in the world. I am so lucky to be a part of this community.
I have so much love for both the Occupational Therapy and Disability Communities.
Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays) and Happy New Year! I am all fired up ready for 2022, and cannot wait to see what it holds. I have a feeling that it will be a VERY good year and I am looking forward as ever to take Not So Terrible Palsy with me!
Sending love to all,