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  • Writer's pictureEmma Vogelmann

A day in the life of The Wheelchair Activist

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

I always find it interesting learning about people’s routines and day to day life. I have seen lots of YouTube videos of people bringing viewers along a typical day in their life so I decided to do the same on this blog.

This was my day on March 15, balancing my 9-5 job at Scope and recording the podcast. Here goes nothing!

A bird's eye view of a laptop on a desk. There are books to the right and a phone, plant and coffee on the left.
Photo by Chris O'Donovan

I wake up at 7:30 am. My carer comes in and does my initial personal-care before going to make me a double espresso. I have started every day with a double espresso since I was 17 – says a lot about me doesn't it? While she's making it I check my phone for emails and do a quick scroll of social media. Once I've had my coffee, I start the marathon that is my full morning personal care.

By 9 am I am ready to start work for the day. I get set up with my laptop and take a look at my schedule for today. I am the Lead Policy Adviser for Children and Young people at Scope. We are in the process of creating a really exciting piece of work which unfortunately I cannot tell you about just yet. Make sure that you follow Scope on social media so you are the first to know when this goes live.

From 9:30 am to 1 pm I attend an online event for work. It was about the importance of play for children and the impact Covid has had on play. I learnt that 1 in 3 children incorporate the pandemic into their play. Some children pretended to be scientists creating the vaccine. I don't know how I feel about that statistic but I suppose it makes sense.

During a break of the event around 11 am, I have to take some pain medication for my back. I wasn't sure if this was worth mentioning, but I decided it was because this is what life with a disability is really like. There are days when disabled people experience physical pain for so many reasons and to gloss over that feels disingenuous. I don't have to take pain medication every day but this day was one of them.

After the event ends at 1 pm, I spend about half an hour answering some emails before lunch. At the moment I am trialling a nine day fortnight. This means that I do 10 days of work in 9. I take half an hours lunch break instead of an hour and add another 15 minutes to my working day in order to have one day off every other week. I am only in my second week of doing this but I am looking forward to having a bit more free time in the working week to devote to the podcast and this website.

At 2 pm I have lunch which hasn't changed for over 20 years. Yes you read that correctly, I have had the same lunch every day since I was five years old. It is a cheese sandwich, no crusts, and a bag of crisps - cheese and onion to be specific! This may sound strange but I have learned that a lot of disabled people tend to eat the same things every day. I don't know if this comes from a feeling of no control over other areas of my life so I need to exercise great control over my lunch, or if I just really like cheese sandwiches and never get tired of it. I think it's the latter personally!

By 2:30 I am back on my laptop and start my afternoon's work. This is usually doing emails and writing policy recommendations on whatever area I am focusing on. Today is taken up by planning for that exciting piece of work I mentioned.

Every Tuesday Scope has a broadcast for all employees - it is every Tuesday morning but as I was listening to the event I caught up with it around 2:40 pm. Sometimes it is our CEO telling us about interesting projects and initiatives going on in different parts of the organisation. This week our Director of Partnerships, Paul Fuller, was hosting the broadcast. At the end of his broadcast he gave my podcast a shout out which was completely unexpected and so kind of him to do. Paul is one of my favourite people at Scope and I am hoping he will be a guest on the podcast very soon.

Around 3:40 I checked my personal email and got distracted by an email from Wood Green, an animal shelter that I support. The email said that Pet Parents Day is coming up on March 27 and proceeded to show me items you can buy for yourself and your pet. On my desk I have a sign that says "I work hard so that my dog can have a better life" (image below). So when I saw that email I really had no choice but to buy a pet bundle for my two beautiful dogs and a T-shirt for myself. My carer convinced me I did not need 2 t-shirts so I only bought one (reluctantly!).

A desk sign that reads "I work hard so my dog can have a better life".

I then carry on with my afternoon's work until I clock off at 5:15. The next day is my first nonworking day as part of the nine day fortnight, so I turn on my out of office before I sign off.

At 6 pm I record a podcast, or rather I re-record a podcast. The first time I recorded with this guest the audio on their side didn't work so they kindly agreed to re-record with me. I am now using Zoom pro to record The Wheelchair Activist after too many failed attempts with a flashy online podcast recording platform. The recording goes really well. I'm not sure when the episode will be finished by but I am really looking forward to people listening to it.

It is 7:30 by the time I have finished everything I need to do for Scope and for The Wheelchair Activist and I am definitely tired from the day. That evening I catch up on Peaky Blinders and have pasta for dinner.

In true Emma fashion, I end up sending one more work email at 8:15 because I didn't want to leave someone waiting until I was back on Thursday. I should stress that there is absolutely no pressure from my manager or colleagues to do this, it is completely my choice to work outside of my normal hours. I have been guilty of doing this too much in the past so I try not to do it too much.

At 9:15 I start my night time personal care which takes about an hour and a half. Once I am settled in bed and my night carer has arrived, I fall asleep pretty quickly after a busy day and look forward to recording two podcast episodes the next day.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Let me know if you'd like me to do another one of these on a podcast recording day or a weekend or another work day!

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