In a very special video podcast episode, Lorraine had the opportunity to interview her friend, Isaac Harvey, who was named the most influential disabled person in the UK 2021. This is part of our new Lessons Learned series of podcasts and video interviews.
Isaac talks about his experience of being a disability-awareness advocate, public speaker, content creator, video editor and President of Wheels and Wheelchairs. You can connect with Isaac through LinkedIn.
Don’t forget to subscribe so that you can catch more of these amazing personal stories from inspiring people around the world.
You can find the video and full transcript below.
Lorraine Venables 00:00
Hi, Isaac, how you doing?
Isaac Harvey 00:02
I’m doing great. Thank you. How are you?
Lorraine Venables 00:04
I’m really, really good, especially because we’ve just sat giggling at each other for the last ten minutes. I’m in a very good mood to now. Thank you. So how’s your day going?
Isaac Harvey 00:19
Yeah, I mean, it’s not doing too bad. But now we’re laughing, it feels a lot better.
Lorraine Venables 00:23
Yes. Great. Great. I’m happy to oblige. Oh, fab. So I’ve met you up. Well, I met you on LinkedIn a few months ago, now, I guess. Time flies, doesn’t it? But yeah, how did I… How did I first get to know you? I think you posted something and I was just like, “Oh my god, I relate so much and I want to hear more about this.” So I got in touch with you. And we started chatting. And then I was straight into the voice notes. Because I love a voice note. Yeah, the rest is history. So would you like to start by sort of introducing yourself and just give us a little summary about yourself?
Isaac Harvey 01:05
Oh, gosh, how long do we have? An hour and a half? Oh, wow. Two hours? Yeah. Yeah. So, my name is Isaac Harvey. I was born with a disability called limb pelvic hypoplasia, which means I have no arms and short legs. I have a weak pelvis. So I’m not able to walk. And I have scoliosis, which is the curvature of the spine. And that’s been corrected by metalwork. And I have grown up in East London, where I’ve had very supportive friends and family who have always encouraged me to be the best version of myself. And they never really told me, “No, you can’t do this.” or “We want you to do this.” And if I have a crazy idea, like skydiving, they’re all for it. So yeah, that’s really helped me have this mindset that I find it easy to overcome obstacles with my disability. But the biggest challenge I had was dealing with my mental health. Because I was known as ‘Isaac who’s gone skiing’ or ‘Isaac who’s done a skydive’ as I’ve mentioned. And because of the persona, which was given to me, I kind of had to, I felt that I had to live up to that level, and never really showed that I wasn’t feeling great. So I was always putting this mask on saying I’m happy all the time, and was never really honest with my audience, which meant I wasn’t really being honest with myself, and had that really vicious cycle. And it just got to a breaking point where I took a step back and wanted to learn about the minds…, and mindset and mental health and things like that. And that’s when I started learning about the law of attraction, how we think, feel and speak; it’s the reality that we create. And that can completely change my perception on things. And here, we are still smiling and getting on with life, really, so…
Lorraine Venables 03:23
That’s amazing. You totally reframed things for yourself then. Yeah, and what, just out of interest, what age were you when you had this realisation when everything changed?
Isaac Harvey 03:35
Three years ago when I was 23. So, recently.
Lorraine Venables 03:39
Wow. Yeah, that’s so there’s so much for me to unpack in what you’ve just said,
Isaac Harvey 03:44
Oh, yeah, there’s a lot more…
Lorraine Venables 03:45
I’ve got so many questions. But yeah, it’s, um, I think that what you’ve just mentioned, there is something that that the mental health side of things that a lot of people can really, really relate to. And I really, really admire the way that you sort of took control of it. And were like, right, I need to take a step back, I need to control things I need to have more of an active role in my own mental health going forward. That’s something that a lot of people can relate to, I think, maybe not the breaking point. Although a lot of people have experienced that during the pandemic, but it, it takes a lot of courage to be so open about this. Because there’s still such a taboo, especially for a young man. There’s still such a taboo about mental health and, you know, getting therapy and admitting that you maybe need some help. That’s really difficult for a lot of people to do, isn’t it?
Isaac Harvey 04:50
I mean, it’s one of those things where, you know, a lot of people like I would, I will take it online and show like, I was upset and things, which again, wasn’t good, like I was putting out negativity to the world, which is what was coming back to me. And I would have lots of friends and family who would try and support me and help me but I was kind of blinded by their positivity. Because I was so, like, negative “Oh, what you’re telling me is wrong, I don’t need to be hearing this positive nonsense”. And I feel the real change was when I made the… wanted to make the change. And I think that’s kind of, you know, when I finally turned around my mindset about things, I had a friend, contact me who was going through the same thing. And, you know, it’s quite relatable of everything that she was going through. It was a totally different situation. But, you know, it’s kind of like the same principles of, she didn’t want to listen to me, and I was stubborn like she was and stuff like that. So, yeah, I think it’s for you to make that step to make the change.
Lorraine Venables 06:02
Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I think there can be many, many different ways in our lives that we, we, we lack the, the tools that we need, until you actually get real with yourself. And you say, right, okay, I need to address this. But you know, the, the negativity, the not listening to people being stubborn. These are all coping mechanisms that people use when they’re scared of what’s the other side of the change the big change. But I think that, it’s, it’s not necessarily a good thing to compare yourself with other people. But really, just to try and improve in yourself, day by day, and just sort of move forward in that way. But having said that, having gone through it, having been there, understanding how difficult it can be, and understanding the highs and lows of going through your own mental health journey, it does enable you to be there for other people in a way that you wouldn’t be otherwise. So fair play to you for being there for your friend.
Isaac Harvey 07:10
Yeah. I mean, it’s one of those things where it’s good that we have like doctors who talk about it, but a lived experience is much more powerful than reading a textbook and stuff like that. I feel.
Lorraine Venables 07:22
Yeah, I mean, I’ve read quite a lot of books about mindset and about things such as healing your inner child or other things like that. Some things I’ve related, related to more than others. But when you get the thing that works for you, when you go, “Yes, okay, that’s really helping.” then it’s, it’s, you know, completely whatever that is, whether it’s the law of attraction, or whether it’s, it’s something else entirely, then explore it, go through it. It may be comforting in that moment. But you’ll normally learn a lot from it. For me, the author who has just been the most amazing influence on me is Brene Brown. She’s absolutely incredible. I don’t know, have you read anything by Brene Brown?
Isaac Harvey 08:12
No, I haven’t. I’m more of a visual and listening, rather than reading.
Lorraine Venables 08:19
Hmm. Okay, cool. So, yeah, I’ll recommend a TED talk of hers, for you to watch if you want it.
Isaac Harvey 08:26
Lorraine Venables 08:28
So there’s one thing that is central to who I am as an English teacher, and it’s something that all of our team members actually have in common. And that’s that we believe in a growth mindset. So wherever you are right now, is fine. You know, if you want to improve, you don’t have to be so hard on yourself in order to move forward step by step. There are a lot of elements to growth mindset that really are quite difficult in today’s world with the internet, you know, comparing yourself with other people and maybe feeling a bit jealous, what they’ve got going on. Yeah, how much do we all struggle with that social media? Hello. But yeah, if you if you try and sort of focus on yourself on your own growth, rather than comparing yourself with other people, that’s really fundamental to learning anything really. That sounds like something you’ve you’ve got a lot of experience in.
Isaac Harvey 09:25
Yeah, I mean, I could give an example of me comparing myself so I am also a video editor. So I have been doing that for about 9 or 10 years now. Where I use a computer with my feet to edit videos. And when I left school, I made sure I said, I said to myself, you know, I’m going to be doing my own thing. So I didn’t want to go down like TV production routes or anything like mainstream media. I wanted to just create my own content. So I started making YouTube vlogs showcasing all the things I would get up to and behind the scenes of things, and I’d go really silly with the edits and make music and silly memes would be added. It was a whole load of craziness. If you watch back at them, it’s kind of cringe worthy…
Lorraine Venables 10:21
I’ve seen a couple of them. They’re brilliant. They’re absolutely brilliant.
Isaac Harvey 10:24
But have the really old ones? (laughter)
Lorraine Venables 10:26
Not the really old one, no. a couple of months (years) ago. But I’m going to now go into the back catalogue.
Isaac Harvey 10:35
Good luck with that. (laughter)
Lorraine Venables 10:38
I’ll give you some feedback. (laughter)
Isaac Harvey 10:40
That’s fine… (laughter) And I just loved it. Because it was like, I could be creative and showing people what I can do. And then people would say, “Oh, I feel the videos be more powerful for you, to talk about disability.” And I would always say, “Oh, I don’t really want to talk about my disability, because I just want to show, I’m having a good time. Like, why should I mentioned that?” But it was when I started doing talks in places, the impact I was giving people about disability and overcoming challenges and things. So I kind of started incorporating it in the video still with the memes and things to make it engaging and funny. And then I, I don’t know what happened, but I kind of started comparing myself to other famous people, because I would spend like two weeks on a video. And I would only get like 20 to 40 views and I thought “I’m spending all this time and I’m not getting much viewership.” So I’d kind of take a lot of inspiration from other YouTubers, and it wouldn’t work and it was just kind of unmotivating me a lot. Which was a bit of a shame, because, you know, I started out doing it because I loved it. And then eventually, I kind of stopped making YouTube videos and went down the route of what I didn’t want to do and start doing freelance and doing videos for people, which I wanted to just kind of get a different take on video editing and get my mind out, which I did enjoy. But it was much later down the line, I think 2019 or the end of 2018, I saw a video on YouTube of a guy basically saying, you know, “Everyone in the world is unique and what they put out into the world is, yeah, whatever I’m putting out into the world is unique. And it’s your content. So if one person sees it, that’s one out of a million people have seen your content and the million have missed out on it.” Just kind of seeing it the other way around. And then when I heard that, I was like, “Oh, yeah, gosh, that’s really, that’s really, and I feel more… It makes more sense to see it that way.” Well, by then I kind of lost motivation for YouTube. So I kind of just kept that mindset into just doing content online and once I started forgetting about the views, that’s when they started to come and geting engagement and things.
Lorraine Venables 13:35
Because I bet you were being more authentic then when that happened, werent’ you?
Isaac Harvey 13:39
Yes. Yeah, that’s when I started seeing the growth and people really engaging with my content, again.
Lorraine Venables 13:48
Yeah, I think that’s a bit of a rite of passage, you know, when you, when you start out in a new field, you’ve got to really… you learn from other people. And to a certain extent, maybe you’re copying them, or you’re emulating them in order to figure out what is you and what is them. So I think that’s that’s a natural part of the process. And that’s why you often see a lot of people putting out the same content as other people, because they haven’t yet found their own voice. But the ones who are successful are the ones who find a way to find their voice and, and be themselves. When you’re being yourself. People are really drawn to that authenticity, aren’t they? And that’s when you start to find your tribe and attract people who genuinely are a good influence in your life. And I think that that’s that’s the process I’ve been on in the last year as well, because I focus mainly on LinkedIn. Yeah, but I remember many years ago, everyone’s had this experience, but many years ago, you know, uploading my CV to LinkedIn and just being like, ‘This is you know the most boring thing in the world.’ But then, a little while ago, about just over a year ago, someone said to me, you know LinkedIn is different now, you know, you should probably give it another try and I was like yeah, maybe. So I went on there and I think the first person I saw was Lea Turner. And she’s like, covered in tattoos, blonde hair, just like 100% sass. And I was like, Oh, this is cool. Totally different than what I was doing before. So yeah, then I saw Luke Manton, who’s just the most amazing person ever. And just a load of people who I was like, I want to be in a pub with these guys. I want to just sit and chat with these guys. I want them to be my friends, you know? So yeah, I started to get into it then. But I had the same experience that you were talking about there. It was like, Okay, well, that’s working for them. Maybe I’ll try a little bit that. No, that didn’t work, tumbleweed. And then I’ll try something else. No, still no one’s responding. But then I took a course actually from Lea Turner and she was talking about being yourself and being authentic and everything. So I was like, just gonna do that just gonna just be me and I did. And then people were like, ‘Hi Lorraine, how you doing?’ (laughter) It’s true.
Isaac Harvey 16:17
I know gosh.
Lorraine Venables 16:18
So good. So yeah, and I think that’s how you meet people that you really want to talk to.
Isaac Harvey 16:24
I mean, I have a funny LinkedIn story, kind of how you kind of started. So for years, people would say, I need to join LinkedIn, and I would always say, “Why do I need a professional Facebook?” You know, why do I, why do I need to go on there it doesn’t make sense, because I had been on Facebook and Instagram, for many, many years. They would have highs and lows of engagement, but it never really, there’s nothing really genuine about it and, you know, most people dislike it or just do fire emojis, because of a good image, nothing to do with the caption.
Lorraine Venables 17:03
Thanks for sharing.
Isaac Harvey 17:06
Yeah, exactly. It was after a while I like a lot of people were saying, “Yeah, you need to join LinkedIn.” So I thought, okay, I’ll just do it. But my main focus was, because I’d been doing Wheels and Wheelchairs for three years and became the president in 2020. I thought, okay, I’m just gonna join and share, mainly Wheels in Wheelchairs. So I started doing that and then I started to see quite a lot of engagement. And then I started talking about my life. And that’s when it kind of just blew up really like loads of engagement. People wanted to connect with me. First time, well, three times that I’ve gone viral on LinkedIn, which is crazy, compared to other platforms. And I’ve done this in just over a year on LinkedIn, and even some of the connections I’ve made now. It’s like, when I told them I’ve only been on for like, a short period of time, they say, “How did you do it?” And I say, “I don’t know.”
Lorraine Venables 18:18
What ever it is it’s working.
Isaac Harvey 18:20
Now it’s my main platform, I don’t really post on the others now.
Lorraine Venables 18:23
Yeah, yeah. I mean, the ROI. I mean, sorry to be your business for a second, but the ROI on LinkedIn is just like insane. It’s only like second to Tik Tok. I’m not really into Tick Tok. I mean, I’ll look at it, you know, from time to time, if I’m like, having a lazy day in bed. It’s like, I just, I, I mean, I’m not really that, well, I’ll get there it just takes me a while. But I think the most important thing is that if you’re sharing stuff online, it’s gonna add value for people, right? If you just, if you’re just sort of saying what you’re thinking, then that will get you so far, but it’s not really going to be attracting your tribe kind of thing much as far as I know. But yeah, if you’re adding value to people, you’re bringing them something really useful or funny or you know, something engaging like you say, then that’s, that’s how you do it. That’s the way I’m trying to do it anyway.
Isaac Harvey 19:18
And also with LinkedIn, you know, before LinkedIn I thought I’d been living in a bubble because the amount I’ve learned from people and especially the disability community, what people are doing adaptive fashion world, I didn’t even know about adaptive fashion before joining LinkedIn. I didn’t know about DEI people within the workplace I’ll be honest I didn’t know anything like that. I just my eyes just were opened to a whole new world of people and things have been done. It’s like wow, where have I been living.
Lorraine Venables 19:56
Yeah. That’s wonderful, isn’t it that you get to learn so much. Yeah, I’ve learned so much from LinkedIn as well. Yeah, I, I met someone called Spencer through LinkedIn. I don’t know if you know Spencer Collins, but he’s, he’s, he’s really vocal in in all kinds of disability circles. And he’s absolutely fantastic guy. He was born deaf. And he’s lived his whole life, doing so many different jobs, so many roles. Even he was a DJ, you know, he’s been in DNI for ages. And he reached out to me, because on my little profile video, it had subtitles on it. And he was just like, “Lorraine. Thank you!” What, what did I do? And he was like, thank you for putting subtitles on it because it’s amazing how many people do not do that. And I was like, I didn’t even I didn’t even really think about it every video I make I put subtitles on it. You know, thanks to my teacher Lida she’s the Director of Studies, she’s all about accessibility. She’s always making sure our website is as accessible as possible, and all of that stuff. It’s something that brings us all together as a team. We’re all interested in diversity and inclusion, we’ve got a diverse team of people, you know, it’s a right mixed bag, and it’s lovely. And we’re much much better for it. So a couple of years ago, we created a course about diversity and inclusion for English learners, so that they could learn the lingo. And it’s, that’s been very eye opening. But I’ve met so many more people through LinkedIn that have taught me a lot about it as well. The inspiration behind that course was that I had a student who was talking to me one day, and he was telling me about somebody in the office, who’s transgender. And this student of mine didn’t want to start a conversation in case he said something wrong. And I get it right before we’ve all been there not not knowing what to say or what not wanting to make a mistake not wanting to offend someone, really. But it was such a shame that he wasn’t able to talk with his teammate, because he was so worried about this. So, you know, we were working on the different language to use and generally it’s all about asking questions like, what do you want to be referred to as? And, you know, tell me about your experience or something? And what pronouns do you use, that kind of thing. So it was a huge relief for my student to be able to have the language to have a chat with this person, because he, he realised he wasn’t talking because he was didn’t want to offend them. But then not talking to them was offending them. So he was like, “Oh, I’m stuck.” So yeah, after that, I had a, I did a podcast with a friend of mine called Alyssa, who’s in London, she’s a DNI, consultant. And it was like, one of those podcasts where after two hours, you’re still like, but I’ve got so many more questions to ask you. Like, let’s talk about this, let’s talk about that. So, yeah, I think that it’s great that the language is, is is evolving, it’s great that people are learning so much more about it now. From your point of view, as a 26 year old, you know, how, how have you noticed the landscape changing recently in the way that people can, can talk to you about your disability or about or not talking to you about your disability, this is, this is the main thing, because so much of it is about what you can’t do. But I’m sure you want to focus on what you can do. So yeah, talk to us a little bit about that. And from your perspective, how would you like people to talk to you and what questions would you like them to ask and things like that?
Isaac Harvey 23:43
Well, I’m one thing I’ve realised is, you know, everyone’s different, and everyone sees it differently. Because, you know, I prefer language such as person with disability, I was like, disabled, was one of those things where everyone’s going to be different and language is going to be different for everybody. So we just have to ask what people prefer, and not say, l ook, this is how you refer to people with disabilities by having this one category, or people within the LGBT community, you know, we just respect the individual and what they want to be called. And it’s one after what you’re saying, I was gonna say, you know, it’s one of those things where I believe where us as individuals, so for example, like people within the disability community, we have as much responsibility as the people who are wanting to learn because there’s people in probably every community where they get it wrong. Oh, I hate you. I don’t want to speak to you and they tell the people off and it’s like, how can you tell someone off if they genuinely don’t know? You know, we got to educate people in a constructive way.
Lorraine Venables 25:03
Meet them where they are, and help them to improve.
Isaac Harvey 25:06
Yeah and be nice about it because, you know, I, I always say the story where I was in Waterloo station to get to the lift to the platform. And I get in the lift and a woman comes in this was before the pandemic and things and she comes in and she says to me, “Oh, excuse me, you know, do you mind if I come in the lift with with you?” And I thought this is really weird question. Well, why are you asking this? Because it yeah, of course. And she said always, because the person before in a wheelchair, said, oh, no, he doesn’t allow anyone else to share lift with him. And you could see, by the way, she was talking, it was like, I guess a bit of a rude encounter. And so that’s not how you teach people. And that’s not how you speak to people. Because, you know, that woman might have been scared to even speak to me, because of that one experience. You know,
Lorraine Venables 26:07
Isaac Harvey 26:08
I’ve feel that’s with anyone, in any community, if you have one bad experience, you feel like the whole or subconsciously at least you might feel everyone’s like that. And therefore, you know, we have the responsibility to help others by helping us.
Lorraine Venables 26:24
But then equally, you know, you can understand why that person, maybe, if that person’s had a bad day, with people being inconsiderate, and just, you know, it’s understandable that that he or she was just a little bit aggressive. I always think, you know, we, obviously it would be great if we could all speak to one another with respect and consideration. But that’s not the way the world works, unfortunately, sadly, I completely relay I completely agree. You should, you should explain things nicely and calmly. But we’ve all had those days where we’re just like, I don’t want to have to explain this for the 57th time today, you know, can you just leave me alone? We all have bad days. But someone once said to me, how did it go? Don’t attribute something to malice, when you can attribute it to stupidity or ignorance or something like that, because a lot of people there they are the way they are. They’re aggressive, they’re rude to other people. But most of the time, it’s not because they’re trying to upset you. It’s because often they’re a bit ignorant or a bit insecure, or they’re having a bad day or, you know, they they just don’t understand things and they don’t want to understand things, you know. And once I understood that concept, I was like, oh, these people who like always commenting on your, on your posts, like trying to bring you down or telling you what to do or just attacking you in general. Sometimes it’s so vicious. But I just think to myself, wow, that person is having a really bad day and try not to take it personally.
Isaac Harvey 28:08
I think is one of those things where well I believe is something going on in their life for them to do that. And usually, what people say into the world is a reflection on themselves. And it’s you know, it’s it’s very difficult to have that reasoning mind, especially if it’s like a split second thing, like someone’s rude to you like, okay, I’m going to react to that in without thinking. I think as humans we need to start responding, rather than reacting. Which is not always easy, but you know, I think it’s one of those things where you have to train yourself to learn how to do I’ve been doing a lot of learning, about this kind of stuff.
Lorraine Venables 28:55
I can tell that was a really nice way of explaining there, we need to start responding instead of reacting. Yes Issac, sound bite (laughter)
Isaac Harvey 29:04
Yeah that’s it yeah, I don’t need to do anymore now.
Lorraine Venables 29:06
Yeah exactly (laughter) There’s my clip for LinkedIn tomorrow, yeah, nailed it (laughter) thank you. (laughter)… Ah brilliant so earlier you were talking about Wheels and Wheelchairs, I want you to tell us more about that, because I know you’ve got a really exciting event coming up very soon. So firstly, what it is because I’ve seen some amazing 360 videos of this and I just I’m gonna share this with the with the episode, what is it and what have you got coming up?
Isaac Harvey 29:41
So it’s wheelchair users getting pushed by roller skaters or rollerbladers, at sometimes high speed, and we do that in London, Battersea Park every Saturday. And then on a Sunday, we do it on the streets of London. With a marshalled skate with about 200 other skaters.
Lorraine Venables 30:05
That’s brilliant, that’s amazing.
Isaac Harvey 30:07
Yeah, so that’s a load of fun, really. And as it’s leading up to Easter Sunday, we’re going to be doing an Easter skate, where people dress up in bunny outfits and anything to do with Easter, which actually was my first ever streetscape all the way back in 2019.
Lorraine Venables 30:28
Isaac Harvey 30:28
When I joined, yeah.
Lorraine Venables 30:30
Amazing, so, what are you going to dress up as?
Isaac Harvey 30:36
Dressing up with a pink, bunny top, that has ears on it.
Lorraine Venables 30:42
Amazing. Absolutely brilliant. I can just imagine that feeling of belonging to not only to an amazing team, like it’s always really lovely to be in a team of people who are all you know, really passionate and enthusiastic. But moving at high speed through the streets of London. That’s so badass. It’s amazing who thought of this? Is this your creation, or did you come in as a president later?
Isaac Harvey 31:09
So lots of people think I’m the founder whenever I say that I’m the president. And it’s like, I can’t take that credit. It wasn’t me. So the story goes all the way back to 2012. When a French group who had been doing this for 10 years prior to 2012, and for the 10th anniversary, they wanted to rollerskate from Paris all the way to London for the opening of the Paralympic Games.
Lorraine Venables 31:38
Isaac Harvey 31:38
So they knew how to get to the boarder of France, but from the board of England to get to the Olympic Park. They needed help. So they contacted London skaters who wanted, well, gave help to how to do it. And when they had arrived, all the skaters are like, well, we need to do something here. And that’s when Wheels and Wheelchairs was born. And then I was introduced to it at the end of 2018. Where have you had a winter wonderland in Hyde Park?
Lorraine Venables 32:13
Yeah, I’ve heard of that. Yeah.
Isaac Harvey 32:16
So I went there and I went on the ice rink with my wheelchair and one of the ice marshals came up to me. And we just started chatting. And he said, Oh, would you be interested in wheelchair roller skating? I thought I’ve never heard of this before. But yes, please,
Lorraine Venables 32:32
But yeah sign me up, that sounds amazing.
Isaac Harvey 32:36
It just sounded really out there because you know, prior to this, I’ve done skiing and tall ship sailing and other adventure activities. So, you know, roller skating was something that I just never thought was possible. And yeah, I ended up going for my first time and I absolutely loved it. I went to week after which is then when I did the Easter skate. And then I just went every week really, and really enjoyed it. And then I went to France, I did it with the Paris skaters. He took part in the Paris marathon.
Lorraine Venables 33:15
Isaac Harvey 33:17
Before we started recording went to Istanbul as well and did the half marathon.
Lorraine Venables 33:21
Yeah, I was asking you about that earlier wasn’t I. Missed one of the main points though. (Laughter) Moving swiftly on. Now, how was how was your experience in in Istanbul, though, you mentioned that it was great, but also difficult in some ways.
Isaac Harvey 33:38
I mean, culturally, it’s really interesting. It’s fascinating getting to go to the mosques and seeing the old town and going through the bazaars, where there’s like 4000 shops and people wanting to buy their goods. One guy really wanted to sell me his carpet, I was like, “No, I don’t want any carpet.” But yeah, the it was really good that way. But when it came to accessibility, it wasn’t great, like steps to get into the mosques. And there’s no such thing as an accessible taxi. It was a hail and ride, fold up your wheelchair and get in the cab and go, really. And cobbled streets, pavements being really steep. And as I was saying to you earlier, if I was in my electric wheelchair it would have been a pretty impossible task. But you know, we did it with smiles on our faces.
Lorraine Venables 34:37
Yeah, you did.
Isaac Harvey 34:39
There was a group, there was a group of 11 of us and we just go on with it really? And we enjoyed the experience.
Lorraine Venables 34:45
Yeah. Wonderful. Yeah. I’ve learned a lot about sort of public accessibility through a friend of mine, Scott Whitney. He and I did a challenge in January. Do you know Scott? Yeah. It he and I did the challenge to raise money for the brain charity. I talked to you about the brain charity before, didn’t I? It’s I think it’s in the north of England only though so not down in London near you. But they do so much for so many people. Mainly because in Scott’s case, for example, he, he had a lot of symptoms, he was in a wheelchair. But only recently after many, many, many months was he diagnosed? So because he didn’t have a diagnosis, the brain charity was like, It’s okay, we’ll look after you. So they were like come and join us, it’s fine the more the merrier. So, he was really, really grateful for all the help that they gave him. It’s just such an amazing charity, I think. But yeah, I mean, I know there is a huge lack of a awareness when it comes to accessibility. For example, Scott mentioned, he went to the pharmacy to collect his medication, and he couldn’t get in because, there wasn’t a ramp there, outside of a pharmacy, and you’d be, but for people, like, you know, myself, who I’m able bodied, and I, you know, I hadn’t really thought about it much before I, I started to notice these things everywhere. Notice all of these stairs, when there wasn’t any other way of getting up somewhere and other things like that. And I just thought to myself, you know, more needs to be done. But it’s not just the responsibility of people who need these facilities to do the, the work, it’s the responsibility of all of us to, to make sure that the world is more accessible. Yeah, what’s, what’s your point of view on that?
Isaac Harvey 36:44
I’ve had really bad experiences when it’s come to accessability, and really good experiences. And I feel like it’s one of those things where I am very grateful to where we are, because I remember 20 years ago, I couldn’t even get on the bus. Because those steps onto the bus, trains were huge steps up, it was like climbing Mount Everest. And, you know, I just didn’t use public transport for ages until I was about eight, me and my mum used to take taxis everywhere. Because using public transport was just impossible. And then, because of that when I eventually was able to use the bus, it was such a big, new thing. It was like a big fear. Like, I go onto the bus for the first time and I remember being in my manual chair, because I didn’t have electric for a while. I got on the bus, and my chair would slide all over the place even when the brakes one. And that would scare me so much. I was like gosh, I don’t want to get on the bus anymore. But mum kept having me on and I went on every so often and I got used to it. And then I got my electric chair. And then it was back from square one again. Yeah, where I had to relearn it again, because my electric chair wouldn’t slide and it was actually like, I was kind of independent, being able to go out and things. So I had to take a long time to learn that. But now I can get on the bus myself. And like when I go to Battersea, I get on the bus myself I go to a station and Transport for London are really good. I can speak to them and say, look, I want to get to Victoria, and they call ahead and they call the station, like they call the station ahead where I’m met off the train. And I have assistance all the way and you know, it’s very rare that it messes up, but it’s really good initiative and like said, you know, you got to be grateful for him so that you know, London’s not perfect, but it’s getting there. And it’s a lot better than what it was. Yeah. And I think we really got to be thankful for the London Olympics coming here because that’s when they really made the change.
Lorraine Venables 39:09
A lot of investment then to try and make make it more accessible. Good, good. Yeah. That’s interesting. But you were saying too actually it was the post where I, where I first got to know you, when I first saw that and I was like, oh, I need to talk to him. You were talking about there being a lack of help a lot of facilities available to people. And I wanted to this is the whole inspiration behind you know, getting you on the on the video podcast. And asking you, you know, what do you need? What how do you envisage a solution to to the current challenges that you’re having, and what would you like to be created from this conversation?
Isaac Harvey 39:55
It’s one of those things where all of these things are easy. As long as you have the right people who are helping you. So, for example, a social worker is meant to give you the support that you need. But I don’t know why they’ve done this, but now they do duty social workers. So you, before I used to have someone who would know my needs, and you would really get to know them, but now it’s whoever’s on the, in the office that day, which means they don’t know who you are, really. And you get some really funny ones where they’re quite rude. And they’re not very helpful. And, you know, it’s one of those things where I have a friend who’s a wheelchair user. And, you know, he always says, in most of our meetings, it’s a constant fight for people with disabilities, and it shouldn’t really be like that, we should be having the support that we need to live life. So I mean, for me, I’ve got myself in. Well, I’ve got myself a lot of hats. So I do a lot of different things, because my brains, very creative and I like to do different things. But because of that, I’m having to do everything solo. And the help that I really would need is a personal assistant, where I could have that flexibility of, if I’m having an event in London, I could stay in London, rather than coming all the way back home to then sometimes having to go early again, the next day to go somewhere else. That flexibility would make things a whole lot easier. There’s also times where I have the opportunity to go abroad or do an event somewhere and because I’ve most my life, I’ve had to rely on friends and family. They are very helpful. But as you can imagine, most of them work and they don’t always have the free time. So that means if they’re not free, that means I can’t go. Yeah, you want to be independent, make your own decision. Yeah, because like I can do half a day by myself, I can go to London and stuff. But that also means that I can’t drink water, I’m not able to use the toilet, have any food or get off my chair to rest of my legs. So I’m kind of stuck in my chair to do things, which is fine. Because usually, if I’m doing half day, I’m usually going to meet people and whoever meeting is quite helpful. And there’s a lot of people have turned into carers really. Because, you know, I’ve friends who’ve never really done it before, but once they’ve done it once, they’re happy to do it again. So, you know, I do have a pool of people, but you know, I need that constant help.
Lorraine Venables 42:58
Isaac Harvey 43:00
Official and kind of like a long term thing, rather than, Oh, I need to ask five people, if they’re free this weekend or whatever.
Lorraine Venables 43:09
That’s really interesting that the social workers now we’re just sort of like on a, you know, a duty basis. So you don’t get to build a relationship with them. They don’t get to learn your preferences, kind of it’s just, you know, standard care. But I suppose a lot of services have been, have been affected by the pandemic and obviously, funding is short. But there’s also.
Isaac Harvey 43:34
But this was before the pandemic.
Lorraine Venables 43:36
Yeah, I suppose. Yeah. Brexit has also caused a lot of a lot of care workers and other people to to leave the country as well, hasn’t it? Yeah, we’re working on a big project at the moment to try and help healthcare workers who are coming from another country to work in the UK, either in the NHS, or one of the many different care roles in the country to learn English and pass the exam. So because not a lot of people know, but just after Brexit came in, in 2017, they changed the requirements for English language exams to get a visa in the UK, and nurses. Well, all healthcare workers now need to get a band seven. So just to put that in perspective, a lot of native speakers can’t reach that level. And you know, it’s a lot of band seven in the IELTS exam. So that’s the same level to get an MBA in to get on an MBA programme at Warwick University, for example, like it’s, it’s a high level. It doesn’t look like that’s going to be decreased anytime soon. So we’re looking at a solution where we can help those people learn English in a really, you know, achievable or accessible way so that they can get those visas sooner. And hopefully that will have an effect on the amount of resources that are available, not just to people who need urgent care, but for people who who want a more sort of structured routine and and have some help that way. Because there are many, many people who are really keen to come here, valuable, wonderful trained people. So it’s, it’s one of our objectives to help them to get here as much as as much as we can.
Isaac Harvey 45:33
Because it’s a shame, there’s so many barriers to allow skilled people to work and show off their talents. I mean, like, it’s not really the same quite sort of thing. But I mean, you know, why do people have to get a new driving licence? Once they’ve learned it in their own country? I don’t, you know, I know like, the roads are different and stuff, but to do the whole process again, I think it’s just crazy to me, like, if they could drive the car drives, you know.
Lorraine Venables 46:01
Yeah, yeah. That’s, that’s exactly it. I don’t, I don’t understand why it’s so difficult. I mean, a lot of people will be working in their, their own country, whether that’s an Eastern European country and African country, maybe an Asian country, wherever it is. And they’ve worked their way up in their healthcare role, for example, they’re qualified, their experienced, they’re really good at their job. And then if they do eventually get to the UK, then they’re given a really low level job just because they are not from here. And it’s not fair. But where it’s also really silly. It’s short sighted, like they could be doing so much more good in a in a role that suits them and their expertise. But unfortunately, there’s there’s many systematic improvements that need to be made. So yeah, we’re working hard to get that done at the moment. I’ve just applied for a government grant for one particular project that we’re working on it. It’s just, it’s all funding, isn’t it? At the end of the day, it all comes down to money.
Isaac Harvey 47:07
Funding, funding grants. Yeah it’s a lot.
Lorraine Venables 47:11
Yeah. Yeah too much. You mentioned earlier, so we were talking about your 360 videos, how do you make them? How do you, what is it? Is it a drone? Like, how does this work?
Isaac Harvey 47:24
Um, so I got into 360 editing, actually, from the skating, because I would see a lot of skaters on Instagram, do these really cool videos and I thought, how are they doing that, and then I realised it was a 360 camera. And it’s really interesting how it works because it’s on a like a selfie stick. And then it gets rid of the stick that you’re holding. So then it looks like you are, it looks like a drone, basically. And then within the editing software, you can just choose where you want it to point at that certain moment. And then you just stitch it together really,
Lorraine Venables 48:06
Isaac Harvey 48:06
Because years ago, you would have to have like, six different cameras, and then you’d have to stitch it together. But now it’s like all in the one camera. But yeah, it’s quite fascinating. Takes a long time to edit. And it’s a lot on the computer. But yeah, it’s cool.
Lorraine Venables 48:22
Yeah, brilliant. Brilliant. Yeah, you could teach me a few things.
Isaac Harvey 48:26
I’m happy to.
Lorraine Venables 48:28
Ah thank you Issac. I was doing this challenge with Scott in January. And I got into the habit of doing a little video just on LinkedIn to sort of encourage people to donate to the brain charity and a few people were like, “Hey Lorraine I’m loving the daily sweaty updates” make it sounds so glamorous. But I was like red faced and please donate to this charity. Oh, well it’s been it’s so nice to chat with you Isaac. Is there anything else you want to share before we finish up today?
Isaac Harvey 49:05
Oh I though we’re gonna talk for another 45 minutes.
Lorraine Venables 49:07
Oh yeah (Laughter), you could give us your life story. I was only joking but go ahead. When I was five…(laughter).
Isaac Harvey 49:22
When I was a young boy
Lorraine Venables 49:25
Back in the day (laughter). Maybe we’ll save that for part two.
Isaac Harvey 49:32
Oh yeah, yeah (Laughter)
Lorraine Venables 49:35
It’s a daily thing now Issac, breakfast TV with Lorraine and Issac.
Isaac Harvey 49:43
Same time tomorrow
Lorraine Venables 49:44
Ah Brilliant tune in folks. Oh fab.
Isaac Harvey 49:48
Nah, I think it’s been good getting to finally speak to you and thanks for your help and support and my posts and I feel, I think with LinkedIn, it’s like everyone that I’ve been talking to, it’s just like, a friend out of nowhere. And it’s kind of like that instant friendship that you don’t usually get if it’s done other ways. So, yeah, thank you.
Lorraine Venables 50:16
Oh, thank you. Keep on keep on just being you. I mean, I was I was gonna say keep on inspiring people, but it’s, it’s all of it that matters. It’s yes, it’s inspiring people, but it’s also being real. And, you know, being honest about the challenges and, and the struggles and also the gratitude and, you know, helping other people whilst being helped as well. It’s, it’s, that’s what we need more of like authentic real content that shines a light on an experience that maybe people wouldn’t necessarily have a view on otherwise. So yeah, keep on keep on doing it. And I’m gonna support you in any way I can, Isaac.
Isaac Harvey 50:59
Oh, thank you. And I think that’s the beauty of LinkedIn is people being real on there. You don’t really get on any other social media platforms. You might get on an Instagram post, but who clicks to read more on Instagram anyway? You know?
Lorraine Venables 51:15
Isaac Harvey 51:16
Most people don’t so. I feel yeah, you can really build authentic relationships and there’s a lot more honesty and people wanting to work with each other, which is great. So yeah. Thanks for well, thanks for the people pushing me to get to LinkedIn as well.
Lorraine Venables 51:34
Yeah, and the next step is actually meeting in person. It was a bit weird the first time I met people from LinkedIn in person, but now I love it, it’s amazing. It’s super cool. I love it. So yeah, man, we’ll have to do that next time. I mean, London
Isaac Harvey 51:51
Or if I come up, if I come up to you
Lorraine Venables 51:53
Yeah, if you come up to Edinburgh. Lots of cobbles up here but yeah, I mean it there are, be warned yeah, it’s an absolutely brilliant city Issac you’ll love it. So yeah, come up come on up here and I’ll show you around.
Isaac Harvey 52:07
Yeah, we have to do an in person podcast.
Lorraine Venables 52:09
Yeah man 360 Video, I’ll get my skates on.
Isaac Harvey 52:14
Oh, yeah. We’ll do it all in one go.(Laughter)
Lorraine Venables 52:18
Isaac Harvey 52:19
Oh and an Easter outfit.
Lorraine Venables 52:21
Yeah. Brilliant, that bunny hoodie I can’t wait to see the bunny hoodie.
Isaac Harvey 52:28
Yeah, well you’ll see it. (Laughter).
Lorraine Venables 52:31
Amazing! Thank you so much! Take care my friend. Look after yourself.
Isaac Harvey 52:35
No problem, take care bye bye.
Lorraine Venables 52:42
We’re already, so I, video podcast (laughter) It’s your fault (laughter) right.
Isaac Harvey 52:53
It takes 10,000.
Lorraine Venables 52:53
Yeah (laughter). Right, hi.
Isaac Harvey 52:57
Lorraine Venables 53:01
You keep making me laugh.
Isaac Harvey 53:02
Lorraine Venables 53:09
Oh dear, ok I’m starting
Isaac Harvey 53:10
Lorraine Venables 53:18
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