5th April was the launch of the NAS self advocacy booklet, rather early morning bleary eyed I made my way to Bristol Temple Meads station to make my way over to London for the day. Assistance onto the train was arranged for the way there and went smoothly, I got a wheelchair spot for my powerchair and my friends and the others were seated around it. The journey itself was fine, although having to lift my powerchair out of the car was rather painful. On the London side was rather more interesting, trying to get a powerwheelchair and 4 passengers into a taxi was a challenge and a half, in the end we had to take it apart and put it in the front of the cab, but we managed it.
The launch itself was rather posh being held at the Wellcome Trust near Euston station. We had a spot of lunch before the main event started. The food that was provided was very tasty, I had some roasted red pepper houmous and potato wedges.
The gathering was in the basement of the building and was in a room that wasn't too brightly lit and was rather nice and quiet considering the amount of people there. There were people from autism organisations, the police, and some learning disability organisations too. There was supposed to be some press there but that didn't happen in the end.
When the event started the authors (myself being one of them) sat at the front of the room. The booklet was introduced, what it's intended use was and such. After the introduction each of the authors gave a small speech, this was the part that I was most nervous about. I gave my speech and while I was rather nervous inside apparently it didn't show. I got lots of congratulations on my speech and was asked if I wanted to do more public speaking!! The few days after I was getting emails saying how natural and relaxed I was doing my speech, it couldn't have been any further from the truth.
Getting back was rather interesting though. First there was the issue of how we were going to get back to Paddington, we thought we would get the bus but we missed the one going to Paddington and the next bus with the same number didn't go as far as Paddington. It was hit and miss as to wether the next one was going to be the correct one so we had to get a taxi in the end using the same method as on the way there. There was a mix up with the seating on the train on the way back which meant that the wheelchair spaces were double booked on the train we wanted to get. When we went to the assistance place we asked if the assistance could be changed because of that fact, to get off at Bristol Parkway instead of Temple Meads, I thought they would say no as it was only 15mins before the train. Instead they were rather receptive and took us straight to the train, the person was rather nice and understanding. It made my journey home that much easier as I could just chair from the station rather than having to get a 45min bus ride then chair at the other end.
I am rather glad to have been able to take part in the self advocacy project and will be willing to take part in more projects ran by the NAS.