About Spokz People

About Spokz People

We set up Spokz People in 2009, after we discovered that many disabled people would prefer to speak to a therapist with disability knowledge and experience.

We are also a Social Enterprise, a Community Interest Company, and a founding member of Kandu, a network of ethical disability organisations, as well as the non-profit arm of Spokz, a provider of wheelchairs, sports accessories and lifestyle equipment.

Meet our team

We thought it would be helpful to include a few pictures and short bios so you can see who we are are why we are here:

mel

Mel

Director, Supervisor & Therapist (MBACP Accred)
“My partner, Steve, has a physical impairment (spinal injury) which affects us all as a family. I experience associated stigma as the partner of a disabled person and have experienced childhood difference and trauma due to being from a religeous and cultural minority. Impairment and disability are complex things. It’s as much about relationships and identity as it is dealing with healthcare professionals, members of the public, and so much more. Talking is one of the best cures for stress, isolation, fatigue, even for pain and trauma. If you can find a way to use the support you already have around you, it can really help your wellbeing and change your life.”

Mel is a qualified HE level 5 therapist and an accredited members of BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy), meaning that we all follow their ethical framework. She has additional training in trauma (EMDR and Rewind), working online and disability. She is insured, has regular supervision and an enhanced DBS check.

Steve Headshot

Steve

Director and Chairman
“I’ve had a spinal injury for over 30 years now and have worked as both a group leader and mentor. I set up our sister company Spokz in 2008, selling wheelchairs, accessories and sporting goods and came into contact with so many people who needed more than just wheelchairs and equipment in their life. Since my partner, Mel, was already a qualified therapist, I suggested she set up the non-profit services of Spokz People to provide a more holistic approach to helping people cope with being disabled.”

Brian Ditchburn

Brian Ditchburn

Moderator
“Living with Autism has shaped every part of my life in ways I am still discovering – both for better and worse. My own journey with mental health and understanding myself has been affected by people who couldn’t understand what life with disability is like. It has been helped greatly by therapists who were sympathetic and understanding of these issues. I was intrigued by Spokz People’s approach toward therapy and their focus on disabled people. I am proud to be playing a part in what they do.”

A word or two on disability

Disability language is a hot topic! ‘Disabled people’, ‘people with disabilities’ or ‘people with an impairment’? Looking at disability from a social model perspective ‘impairment’ refers to the individual effects of an impairment and ‘disabled’ refers to the difficulties of being disabled in a society that does not accommodate different needs and abilities. Confusingly though, ‘disability’/‘disabled’ and ‘impairment’ are used interchangeable by most of us.

There are so many ways to describe disability out there and we understand different people like different words. Some people (us included) do not really like any of these words, because of their negative associations. However, since we have to use a term so that people can find us online and just because we have to use something, we generally use ‘diability’/’disabled’ as that’s what most people seem to prefer.

We know this term will not work for everyone and that the language we use impacts on our wellbeing. So whatever language or terms you like to use, just let us know in your first session and we will be happy to use them for the duration of our work together.

Purple Therapy

Most of us know the term ‘Purple Pound’ – the spending power of disabled people, which recognises their contribution to the economic cycle in society. The ‘Purple Pound’ also recognises the growing demand for services that meet their needs and, as our population ages, this will only grow.

Unfortunately, at present, studies show that therapeutic support often fails to meet the needs of disabled people. Many clients report feeling as oppressed and not listened to in therapy, as they are in society. Some examples of this are when therapists see their anger as denial of impairment, or when therapists express disbelief at the refusal to have medical treatment to improve impairment. Many clients report paying for therapy whilst educating the therapist about what being disabled is like, or putting up with poor therapy because that therapist was the only one with an accessible office.

How Purple Therapy differs: Our values

Purple Therapy is about using our knowledge of disability to empower disabled people, by recognising that there are many forces at work in society which aim to reduce their control and power, including, unfortunately, some health and social care processes and systems.

We respect that clients have many skills and are the expert, not we, at their lives. Our role is to help hone or bring out those skills.

We collaborate and plan sessions together, review regularly and work outside the usual boundaries if necessary so clients can make progress (boundaries such as session timing, location, touch and personal disclosure).

We work holistically. We draw on coaching, psychoeducation, self-disclosure, advocacy and body, trauma and touch therapy when appropriate.

We spend more time in self-reflection. As disability affirming therapists, we explore our own relationship, bias and prejudices towards impairment and disability and how this can impact on client work. Disability is usually seen as a medical issue on therapy training courses, rarely is it seen as a societal and political issue. This, in our view, is one of the key reasons for the negative therapy experiences many clients report.