Feb. 16th, 2017

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Yesterday I was on local radio with a couple of my fellow WI members talking about what we're up to (especially an event we're proud to have gotten funding to do as part of Transport for Greater Manchester's Women on Wheels initiative in March.

Then I caught up with a friend I hadn't seen in a while, who's also on the WI committee so that's one of the things we chatted about.

Then it was our WI committee meeting that evening. And then I stayed on after with a few of the others to have another drink and talk about all sorts of lovely things and stay out until other people's spouses texted them to ask what on earth had happened to them or to say that they'd gone to bed.

So I suppose it's no surprise after a day like that I ended up dreaming about the WI!
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I took this picture on Tuesday night, for the #loveknowsnoborders campaign, started by [twitter.com profile] ZoeJardiniere, which you can read about. It's close to my heart because while obviously I was able to move to the UK to be with my spouse, his income only barely exceeded the requirement at that time, £15,000. The current income requirement to bring a foreign (non-EU...for now, anyway) spouse to the UK is £18,600, which might not sound like much but that would've kept me out of the country for all but a few years of our marriage so far.

It's especially unfair if the British partner is a woman, a person of color, young (in your 20s, ages at which many people including us get married), or otherwise on the wrong side of a pay gap, which makes it even harder to reach that arbitrary income. (Part of the reason we ended up here rather than in the U.S. is that Andrew is more able to earn a good income than I am, which is basically just down to the patriarchy.) It's the same threshold all over the country, too, so it'd be much harder for people living outside London to clear that income threshold.

It's also infuriatingly inconsistent, not that we can expect better of our governments of course. This income is supposed to guarantee that neither the foreigner nor their British spouse need to resort to state funds -- which they're not allowed to do. But years later when I couldn't work and was allowed to apply for benefits, I found that I wasn't entitled to any income-related benefits because my partner worked more than 24 hours a week. It could be 24 minimum-wage hours a week and yet this was expected to be enough for us to live on? Even though it'd be a damn sight less than £18,600 a year. (A tweet I saw yesterday said that working full time on £7.20 an hour isn't enough.)

#loveknowsnoborders made for interesting reading yesterday, for all those who were able to celebrate thoroughly multinational backgrounds, raltionships, addresses and children, there were also people saying "my valentine hasn't been able to bring me to live with her in the UK for four years" or whatever, which my brain just rebels from being able to even imagine.

Clearly the hashtag is an aspiration and not a reality so far, but reading it gave me all kinds of feelings and I wanted to be a part of it. I didn't have the brains or energy to of a video, even if Andrew would've tolerated it which I don't think likely. So I just took a picture, where you can't hear the low in-your-throat growl he's doing, like a dog who isn't barking yet but is warning you, and tweeted it.
My husband hates having his photo taken but he hates systemic xenophobia towards me more! That's how bad it is, folks.
A decision is expected next week on what's known as the MM case, a judgment that will affect thousands of families affected by the Family Migration Rules. There's a good explanation of that case here, from last year.

Scope

Feb. 16th, 2017 07:15 pm
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Almost as soon as I'd posted that tweet, I remembered that the nice man from Scope, the disability charity, had asked for a landscape picture to go with the blog post he was doing about me.

Unsurprisingly, I've done everything back-to-front because I was on TV first, and signed up to tell my story and be a media volunteer (someone they could call if someone asks for registered blind people or people in Manchester or whatever other category I might fall into) only afterwards.

So after Christmas the guy I've been chatting to from Scope, a friendly dude called Phil, called me up and asked me a bunch of questions and then was left with the unenviable tasks of typing that all up and writing it into a linear narrative. We went all through me emigrating here, the Shoe-Tying Occy Health Cowbag story that the BBC people had liked so much, trying to claim benefits, the intersection of disability and immigration status, all kinds of things.

Last night I saw they'd posted this...with the picture I'd just taken, and a couple more I'd sent (the bottom one is me showing off the NASA t-shirt JT got me for Christmas, so it's no fair them cropping it as viciously as they did!).

It's pretty good -- a few quibbles with the narrativd but they're most likely down to me not being as clear as I'd like to. And I'm kind of annoyed that all my terrible speech mannerisms have survived intact -- I appreciate that most people will find it easier to tell than write their stories, but I'd much prefer to write.

But when I said this on Facebook, a friend said "I was just thinking how like you it sounds -- in a good way. I like your way of framing things. It's a good article, pointing out what you weren't sure of, and how awkward it is to challenge fail when it is you in a vulnerable position employment and power wise." And this coming from someone whose disability activism I admire and which had among other things personally helped me very much, this is especially nice to hear.

The day before the Scope people asked if I'd talk on LBC (a radio version of tabloids, though of course that isn't how they described it to me!). I only had a minute, literally, so it wasn't that interesting except that the presenter told me they'd also asked people to call in with positive stories about employment while disabled and not. one. person. did. Afterward the nice Scope lady called me back, said I'd been brilliant, and finished with "national radio! that's pretty good!" and I was nice and didn't say "dear, I was on Woman's Hour once, that's better than talking to Iain Dale."

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