Last year, we interviewed three amazing disabled women, all with very different professions, about times in their life where they've felt broken. They told us how they overcame these moments and shared their views on the idea of perfection.
This is the first set of a series of videos we will be creating to amplify the voices of disabled people. The campaign is titled #Unbroken, tying in with the ethos behind kintsugi - the Japanese art form of mending broken pottery with gold, rendering it more valuable, not less.
By now, you may have seen the first of these videos, featuring comedian, playwright and activist Jackie Hagan, who lost her leg after suffering blood clots and life-threatening infections. I wanted to write this blog post to share a little more about the day we interviewed Jackie at her Fallowfield home.
I asked Jackie to get involved in the #Unbroken campaign as I had seen one of her stand-up sets some years ago and was struck by her dark sense of humour and the honesty she brought with her onto the stage.
Pom poms and glitter
Jackie's place, as you can see from the video, is like the little mermaid's secret treasure trove! Both of the camera crew, from Manchester-based Fraggell Productions, hit their heads on a gigantic planet hanging from the ceiling (the benefits of being short quickly became apparent to me).
The floor was covered with little crafting pom poms and glitter and the walls were adorned with posters for shows, art, and phrases that were both funny and inspirational. We shot the video in the front room after Jackie had rooted around in a suitcase for her cigarettes and chatted to us about a recent night out.
People and perfection
Some of her answers to our questions were too NSFW to make the final cut, but there was plenty of great stuff that did. One of my highlights, personally, was when Jackie spoke about perfection and how it forces people to neglect their own needs. She talked about how the opposite of perfection is people and people being like cups with a bit broken out of them - which echoes the ethos of kintsugi.
It was also really refreshing to hear someone speaking so unapologetically and unreservedly about their mental health. It didn't matter who we were; Jackie was never going to sugar coat anything she said. I found parallels in both of our experiences with mental illness in that creativity and words played a big part in the recovery process.
The final cuts of the video - one short, one long - are packed with powerful insights and advice, and I hope that, in watching them, you gain something from them.
The #Unbroken campaign is not inspiration porn. It serves up inspiration in different forms to benefit disabled and non-disabled people alike, but it exists predominantly to open up discussions around disability, inclusion, mental and physical health, resilience and the beauty and power of imperfection.