CHELSEY JAY STATEMENT REGARDING THE CLOTHES SHOW
disability - Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome
After communicating with the Clothes Show Live directors for over a year, regarding the fact that no models with a disability are employed and used throughout the event, we had finally got to a stage where we thought that the people behind this particular event had started to really understand and appreciate where we were coming from with our pleas for fair inclusion.
They granted us with our wish that they would at least invite models with a disability to the casting process in which they select the models that will feature in the fashion shows at the event. No disabled models were successfully chosen, however we were grateful that the opportunity had been given, a gesture so monumental for us as a campaigning group.
Naturally we were disappointed that again the Clothes Show would have no visible disability presence, however I (Director Of Disability Chelsey Jay) was offered a slot, on the seminar panel, in which I could address the issue of disability inclusion in fashion in front of audience of fashion students.
The day came and I made the grueling 4 hour trip to Birmingham, having to get on 3 different trains from Essex, due to the limitations I constantly faces as a disabled traveller - its always complicated and time consuming. (the fact that I did all this, and the journey back, for the treatment I received, only makes this whole thing worse.)
When I finally arrived, I was lucky enough to have met a Security Guard (Andy Bull) at the lifts, who was so concerned at me pushing myself, as he enlightened me, it was a MILE long from the station through to the NEC that he left his post to aid me.
Andy subsequently stayed with me for the entire time, and I do not know what I would have done without this lovely stranger. He also witnessed the later ordeal. (Andy was so disgusted himself that he offered me his email address if I needed a witness statement)
I notified Frances, from the Clothes Show who came right away to help me with directions and to brief me on the seminar.
We went into the VIP room to wait and I chatted with Frances who was generally talking me through everything and did mention that there was 'a bit of a step' and that she had organised a ramp if i needed it.
To which I said that 'if the step was a kerb height, I can pop my front wheels up' and nothing more was said.
Little did I know the 'step' was not a 'step' at all but literally a 15 odd inch high, full on stage set up.
She asked me to go to the seminar room at 3.00 - as it started at 3:15.
That seemed perfect to me, as it gave assessment and set up time, something I always have to have when I go to a place I have never been, because walking into a room and walking onto a stage, is easy. Having wheels and being seated the entire time, is not! Quite the opposite!
We got to the room at 3 and students were piling in - it was chaos
And the people on the panel already, Caryn Franklin among two others had already started speaking by 3:05, 10 minutes early.
I was not happy that I hadn't been notified that they were starting early and that now I would be interrupting a room full of strangers and they would all be sat in silence seeing me pushed up a ramp onto the stage - I thought I was going to have a panic attack.
Then it dawned on both me and Andy. There was no ramp.
We both left the room saying, this must be the wrong room, or the last seminar booking has over run, something else must be going on.
We went in and out, and the students were looking at me like, what is going on here?
But this was the right room, the right seminar.
I felt sick. I couldn't believe it. I took a photo of the stage to show to my CEO Angel Sinclair and left before I burst into tears in front of everyone.
I instantly texted Frances to say I had left and how upset I was.
I was expecting her to have been at the seminar to meet me, but she was no where to be seen.
She instantly rung and texted me, but I was in no fit state to talk to her at this point, I just wanted to leave. She has emailed and texted apologies to which I have not responded.
I am so humiliated and feel like a fool.
I thought the Clothes Show was genuine in their intentions for wanting to reach out to Models Of Diversity but they was not.
It all makes sense now. The casting was just to keep us quite, they had no intention of employing any disabled models and the seminar talk - well the people on the panel didn't even act as if they were aware someone was missing on the panel, so my hunch is, I was a complete after thought.
The fact that I was there to talk about disability inclusion in fashion, at a fashion event that excluded me, is laughable, but is not a joke, its real life, and reality to so many disabled people every single day.
I had a bag full of leaflets about my Government Petition to discuss the inclusion of disability in the fashion industry yet didn't even get the opportunity to hand them out because this fashion event was exclusive of me and my rights, exactly what the petition is based upon! The point of the petition is to gain respect and represent disabled people yet was that how I was treated?!
I have been campaigning with Models Of Diversity for disability rights in fashion since I suddenly become disabled 4 years ago with a condition called POTs, I have to use a wheelchair as cannot mobilise upright on my feet without going unconscious.
I have a close relationships with both MP Kate Green Spokesperson for Disability and Shadow Minister for Disabled People Debbie Abrahams - whom have both shared twitter disgust for ordeal.
* both myself and Models Of Diversity have received an overwhelming amount of Twitter disgust and support regarding the event and we must thank the public for continued support in our fight for disability fashion rights.
PLEASE INCLUDE IF COVERING STORY >
PLEASE SIGN the #DISABILITYFIGHT4FASHIONRIGHT petition here = https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/109259