When you don’t fit the labels

It’s been several months since I write my last blog post, and in that time I’ve come back to work after maternity leave and started teaching at MMU again. So it’s been a busy time but I feel I’m getting back into a balance with work again.

Lat weekend this interview I wrote with Ally was published in The Guardian’s Weekend magazine. Ally shared her story so openly and honestly about what it’s like to be the parent of a non-binary teenager – someone who doesn’t identify as either male or female.

Everything from pronouns to changing rooms are geared up for people who know exactly what gender they are, so Ally feels she has to really fight for her child Caleb to be able to have an education, access to healthcare and a lot of other things on the same terms as everyone else.

Ally has been helped along the way by the charity Mermaids who provide advice and support for children and young people who are questioning their gender, along with their families and friends.

 

Eyewitness reporting of Manchester Arena attack

After a break from work for almost nine months for maternity leave, I started back at my job at the university last week, the day after the suicide bomb attack at the Manchester Arena.

Several of our students had been at the gig and one wrote a brave, articulate and emotional account of the immediate aftermath of the attack for the Northern Quota, the MMU student journalism website, which was then picked up by the Manchester Evening News.

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You can read the account here:

http://thenorthernquota.org/news/there-were-kids-screaming-ive-lost-my-mummy-man-met-journalism-student-caught-manchester-arena

She was then interviewed on Sky News and for a magazine, and did a brilliantly professional job in very difficult circumstances.

 

Mum shares her story after asthma attack kills her son

Mum Vicky Maley shared her story with me about losing her son Isaac when he was just 10 years old to asthma.

Like millions of children in the UK Isaac was diagnosed with asthma when he was four and used his inhaler before playing sport. He’d never had an asthma attack and at his last check up was told he’d almost grown out of the condition. So when he complained about his chest getting tight last summer, then lost consciousness and died later in hospital his family were stunned and devastated.

Vicky, 41, from Trafford in Greater Manchester has gone on to raise more than £50,000 for the charity Once Upon A Smile who help families dealing with bereavement.

Her story was published in Me, The Sun’s health and wellbeing section, on 28 June, and it was a pleasure to work with such a strong, inspiring lady.

Vicky Maley's story in The Sun
Vicky Maley’s story in The Sun

Transgender charity Mermaids relaunch website

I’ve been known Susie Green, the CEO of Mermaids, a charity helping children who identify as transgender, for several years after I wrote her daughter Jackie’s story for The Sun.

When the charity decided to relauch their website following a huge rise in the number of enquiries they receive I wanted to help, and so I interviewed several parents who have been supported by the charity.

Mermaids
Parents’ voices section on the new Mermaids website

The interviews were very emotional, and the mums I spoke to bravely opened up about the issues their children have faced since coming out as trans, including bullying at school, self harm and suicide attempts.

Their stories are extremely powerful, and they shared them in the hope of showing other parents that this isn’t the end of the road for a child, just the start of a new journey.

If you’d like to read some of the interviews, they are here.

Beating postnatal depression

It was a pleasure to speak to Marie Carr and help her share her incredible story of beating severe postnatal depression in both Take A Break magazine and the Daily Mirror.

Marie had IVF in the Czech Republic and found out she was pregnant with twins a few days after her 50th birthday. But severe pre and postnatal depression meant she considered a termination, couldn’t bond with her baby girls – who were born 12 weeks early weighing just 1lb 11oz each – and even considered giving them up for adoption.

Marie bravely shared her story first in February:

Marie's story in Take a Break
Marie’s story in Take a Break

Her story was then featured in the Daily Mirror on Saturday 23 April.

Marie Carr Daily Mirror
Marie’s story in the Daily Mirror

Marie and her daughters are now doing well, and I’m sure her story will have helped many other women in a similar position.

Derian House: thank you

After the Sun on Sunday’s Christmas campaign to raise money for children and their families using hospices over Christmas more than £10,000 was donated, which bought lots of presents for kids across the country.

I visited Derian House in Chorley, Lancs to meet children and their parents there as part of the campaign, and this has to be the sweetest thank you card I’ve ever received!

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It was a great experience to visit Derian House and I hope to work with them again in the future.

Derian House: Christmas campaign

It was a pleasure to visit Derian House with Coronation Street actress Tina O’Brien as part of the Sun on Sunday’s Christmas campaign to raise money for children and their families who would be using hospices over the festive period.

As well as the fantastic staff we also got to meet two-year-old Tyler, who was so chilled out while having his picture taken. Tina was really moved by everything that Derian House do to help kids, young adults and their families who are facing life-limiting conditions (as was I), and thanks to everyone there for being so helpful and friendly during our visit.

derianhouse