Amanda Heenan (EaRN Individual (Citizen) Member) talks with Caroline Gibb (EaRN Development Worker).
Caroline: What does equality mean to you?
Amanda: Equality to me means a society where people can access services, opportunities, and reach their potential. It means striving to take barriers away for people to be able to reach their potential. Lots of people think equality is treating everybody the same, but really it goes beyond that. It’s about having an accessible and inclusive society that’s fair. That’s really what it’s about in an abstract way.
In a practical way, as someone with a disability and limited mobility, access is really important. As I live near Loch Lomond whilst working and volunteering in Edinburgh, access is really, really important. Mainly I come into Edinburgh by the train, and access is generally pretty good, except sometimes, when the wobbly streets and the roadworks are very challenging – it is something you only really think about when you’re trundling along in your wheels, in a different way from when you’re on your pins! So having people think proactively and consciously about access is really important. It’s moving away from the concept of treating everyone the same, it goes beyond that to really see things through the eyes of other people – and I think that you can only really do that by talking to people and looking beyond the difference, looking beyond the wheels, looking beyond an accent or skin colour and touching with that bit that makes us all similar: our humanity , our shared needs of access to employment opportunities, access to education, keeping safe, being in good housing – these are things that it doesn’t matter who you are and what your difference, we have in common. To me, that’s what equality means.