By Ayesha Khan (she/her)
My name is Ayesha I am from South Wales and I am 24 years old. I am an art and design student, I go to college 4 days a week but during the middle, I give my time to those in need. I do this by linking up with charities and fundraise with them, as a result, I have raised over £1,000. Not only that I have also been involved with TV appeals such as ‘Text Santa’ and have done this since I was 8 years old. When I turned 19 I wanted to give back to the charities as a thank you as if it wasn’t for them I would not have grown into the confident person I am today. I do this in a variety of ways; for example, in 2015 I participated in the Cardiff Half Marathon on behalf of the charity Whizz-Kidz (which provide wheelchairs and other mobility equipment to young disabled people), from doing Cardiff Half Marathon and doing bake sales towards my race I managed to raise £1,652!!! Then in 2018, I participated in the Newport 10k for the same charity.
n 2016 with the help of the Whizz-Kidz staff and ambassadors I lead a campaign to ensure that disabled people had access to public transport when required without having to plan 24 hours in advance. I presented the campaign and petition to the Welsh Assembly (Senedd).
I have always had an interest in campaigning and fundraising since I was 8 years old, but the main things I would say which motivated me to get involved in all of this was my own experience. I have been through physical, verbal abuse and also suffered whiplash and so because of all this, I wanted to get up and be that strong person with a disability who makes a change and put a stop to all that nasty stuff so no one has to experience what I have.
I used to be a very quiet person; I never said a word when unjust things happened to me, but now as I have gotten older I have realised that things will only get worse, so I speak up now and have realised there are people willing to support you in any way they can once you’re vocal about your needs and wants. Now, when I get the negative comments sent to me through my social media inbox I just block the person straight away.
As I have gotten older, I don’t really get the physical and verbal abuse; it was always when I was younger, and I think this comes down to being a Person of Colour. Not many people from the same background as me support what I do, they do not come to any events nor donate to the causes I fundraise for. They are very negative, they always say that I shouldn’t be doing what I do and that when it comes to my wheelchair the NHS should provide me with me. They don’t understand that I cannot always rely on the NHS as I am no longer in paediatrics, there are some things I have to fundraise for myself, I don’t receive the same support as I did when I was under 16. Even though I get all of this negativity from people from my background I don’t allow it to weigh me down, as some of them do support me, I carry on doing what I love.
In 2019 I was approached by a local photographer from Newport who was in the middle of organising an exhibition which looked at honouring local women in the area. He asked me if I would be interested in being a part of it as she was impressed with the work I do, I said yes and took part, in that same year I also decided to explore different charities and fundraise for them.
I saw a sponsored walk for dementia advertised and so I signed up and did it. I started to gain attention and people read about the work I do. People started to come up to me in the streets and tell me how proud and impressed they are of me and that they would love to know more about me and what I do. I decided to create a page to inform people about the work I do and keep people up to date with my fundraising and campaigning. To promote my work I use Facebook and Twitter, out of both social media platforms I have found that Twitter has been the most positive platform for me – I can promote the work I do to a larger audience. I mainly focus on raising awareness about my disability on social media. I create content surrounding my Spina Bifida, Hydrocephalus & Mental Health and it is also a place where I share my fundraising and campaigning journey, sometimes this is advertised through a photo and a video form.
People who follow me on my account are very supportive, they constantly encourage me and motivate me to continue posting. My followers always share, like and comment on the content that I post and always get interact with my account. They always respond to my polls and always tweet me new ideas of what to post on my page if I ask as there can be times where I’m lost on ideas of what to post on my page. I do also use Instagram and Facebook which people support me on but not many, I don’t interact with many followers on there.
I feel it has had a big impact, it has given me confidence in connecting with different groups of people and allowed me to share my ability and also support others who may not be as confident. Recently I have had a lot of people from different fields contacting me saying they love my page, some have even contacted me to ask if I would be interested in writing a blog for their website and invited me on a zoom call so they can find out a bit more about me and talk about ways in which I could get involved with their projects. Because of this I think it is very important for disabled activists to use social media. Social media is like the answer to everything – it can connect you to lots of different people, open the gate to lots of opportunities to you but also can be bad in the way that you won’t be able to please everyone.
At the moment there is lockdown so it means no college for me I am doing college work from home, we are doing a lot of team calls and my hospital appointments have been put on hold but the good thing is this lockdown has made me think about a lot of things; it’s made me realise how much I do for the community on a normal day as I am always one for saying I don’t do much with my life. But it’s not all bad.. it does mean I have a lot more time on my hands now to start giving my page a bit more attention! I have a few videos coming up on my page soo of me discussing different things and doing different things and a few videos of me being interviewed by different people.
Before I go I would recommend that you go and follow @PositiveLifeUK, @feednewport247, @MegsNewshound, @DogFriendlyTrav and @ScribblePug on Twitter.
I recommend you follow @PositiveLifeUK because their page is similar to The LUNA Project, they share different stories about people.
I recommend you follow @MegsNewshound because it’s an interesting account, the account is controlled by a wonderful human being but puts posts up in a dogs perspective about topics such as weather, local news and more!
@DogFriendlyTrav is also a good account to follow if you love dogs and love travel! A lady is behind the account but uses her dogs and travels different places to show people the different hotels around the world which allow dogs in their hotels.
@ScribblePug is advisable for anyone pug lovers like me
@feednewport247 account is very informative, the account shows what the incredible volunteers of
Feed Newport charity is doing to support homeless, refugees and the vulnerable in Newport.
You can follow me on:
(Originally published 6/12/21)