I’ve a lot to be thankful for this festive season...

Oxford Mail: Niall Strawson Niall Strawson

WELL, Christmas is fast approaching and it’s often a time to think about friends – old and new. Every year I take a photo and make my own Christmas cards. It’s become a tradition and one that seems to go down with friends and help me keep in touch with them.

As an Oxford resident and as someone who works at the University I have noticed that Oxford is a transient place. A lot of my friends come here for a year or two then move on to to pastures new.

I have mentioned in previous columns that often I have to socialise at my house as it has the best access – level entrance, a toilet I can use and no level changes. But in the festive period it’s mince pie party here, mulled wine party there.

I enjoy this but it can be challenging to get in and out of houses and being static in the corner at a party.

This time of year is also synonymous with Thanksgiving for those with American heritage or simply those who love two turkeys in quick succession. This weekend I was in Bristol visiting friends for just such a feast.

My friend Dan lives in an old house but he had bought a small folding aluminium ramp that is portable so I can get in and out of the house easily and independently. Whilst in Bristol I met up with another ex-Oxford person who again chose a flat that was fully wheelchair accessible.

When I got back to Oxford I saw a friend, visiting from Sweden, who is getting married soon and has chosen a venue that is fully wheelchair accessible. Another friend, who is leaving Oxford for a new job in London, is only looking at flats that are wheelchair accessible. Suddenly it dawned on me that people are going out of their way to choose houses that suit their needs but with my needs in mind too. Then I started thinking back. One of my friends even called me to see how many iPhones wide my wheelchair is as he wanted to rent a house and check all the door widths.

It seems that my prior moaning about only socialising at home is actually not a realistic view of the effort my friends and family have put in to include me.

I like the festive season as it’s a social time spent with people I love. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to give thanks to all my friends that go out of their way to make decisions that allow me to spend time with them in their homes whether it is over a turkey or any time of year.

e: disabledspace@oxfordmail.co.uk

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