Last week I was given the incredible opportunity to appear on a Mumsnet panel, in London with some of Britain's most fabulous Mummy Bloggers for the #ExpectingChange campaign by the Mama Mio Skincare Brand. The awareness campaign was launched after a study by the brand revealed that a disheartening -
60% of Brits believe it's necessary to offer their seat on public transport to a pregnant woman.
This shocking figure comes with a shift in attitude with people having their minds fixated on catching up on social media, becoming totally emmersed in their mobile phones that they are far less aware of the people around them. Next time you take the bus/train, make a mental note of how many people have headphones in or otherwise staring at a screen. Many people don't even talk to each other on public transport now days. It's an awful shame.
So when I was asked to partner with Mama Mio, I jumped at the chance to be involved in such an important campaign. This is something if we don't get a handle on now, could be detrimental down the line to expectant mothers and their babies. Miscarriage rates are highest in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy than at any other time. As Mum's-to-be sometimes don't even show until near 20 weeks, especially first-time Mum's, they're not offered a seat on public transport because people just aren't aware they have a baby on board or if passengers do suspect, they don't offer for fear of offending incase they've got the wrong end of the stick!
We went down to London with the littles in tow, which is always an adventure. I quite like travelling on Virgin Trains as their wheelchair spaces and JourneyCare Assistance for people with mobility impairments like myself has always been on par. Once we landed in London Euston from Manchester, we dropped our overnight bags off at a nearby Premier Inn (accessibility review to follow!) and waited for the Accessible taxi Mumsnet had kindly organised.
We arrived at Lewis Cubbit Park just in time to meet fellow Mumsnet Bloggers off the 'Afternoon Tea' bus hired for the event. This being my first time as a panelist at such an event, I was undoubtably nervous but I need not have been as the team at Mumsnet and the Mama Mio Skincare Brand were very friendly and welcoming. The girls had time to explore the park, filled with beach loungers and cute haystack benches for the audience before I was asked to go be fitted with a microphone. At which point I met the fellow panelists.
On the panel with me was the famous Anna Whitehouse of Mother Pukka, Candice Braithwaite of the #MakeMotherhoodDiverse movement and Alison Perry of 'Not Another Mummy Blog' and popular podcast host. All of which are such incredible women and are just as lovely in real-life as we all imagine they are by their social media presence. Which was refreshing!
You can re-watch the panel discussion here as it was broadcast via Facebook *LIVE* at the time of the event.
It was a very diverse discussion on priority seating, not just from the perspective of pregnant women but looking at it from all sides. That's why I was asked to go on this, incase you're wondering as you may of thought. "Wait, doesn't Fi take her own seat?" Yes I do, but I'm also not just a wheelchair user who uses public transport almost every single day, I'm a disabled Mum of two young child who are almost always with me on it! So in that respect I have a very unique experience of having issues with public transport because of misuse of the priority wheelchair space, but also as a Mother who's youngest still uses a buggy. I board with both. Up until this point when you think of public transport for wheelchair users, the media has primarily highlighted the divide of wheelchairs vs buggys for the wheelchair space, nobody has thought about the minority group of disabled parents who fall into both categories.
The main things I wanted to gain from my participation in the #ExpectingChange campaign were;
- Increase awareness of parents with disabilities. That yes disabled women have the same wants and desires to start a family and do so!
- That any argument over priority seating on public transport can be rectified by being adults about it. Speaking up when you're pregnant or have an invisible disability (as neither are always obvious) to express your need for a seat. If there's many people equally in need, a compromise can still be met as long as we remain respectful of each other and compassionate for each others circumstances.
We are all trying to accomplish the same thing at the end of the day, which is just to get from A to B.
I want to say a big Thank You to Mumsnet and Mama Mio Skincare for wanting diversity on their panel and asking me to represent disabled parents on public transport. For accomedating my travel and accommodation needs as a direct result of my disability, aswell as covering expenses.
I have no doubt in my mind what the comments will reveal when I ask this question because I know my audience very well. But for the campaigns sake.... Would you give up Your seat on public transport to a pregnant woman? Either by noticing she is or if she asked you directly?