About Spokz People
We set up Spokz People in 2009, after we discovered that many people with disabilities would prefer to speak to a therapist with disability knowledge and experience.
All our therapists have personal experience with disability in some way. They are all qualified to HE level 5 and are members of BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy), meaning that we all follow their ethical framework. Our therapists are also fully insured and supervised and have undergone full DBS checks.
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.
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 extensive 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 are humble. One of the key factors of our additional training, which is rarely included in generic therapy training, is about self-reflection with regards to disability: helping therapists to uncover their 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 courses, rarely is it seen as a societal and political issue and this, in our view, is one of the reasons for the negative therapy experiences many clients report.
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.
Meet our team
We thought it would be helpful to include a few pictures and short bios so you can see what a friendly bunch we are.
Founder, Clinical Director, Supervisor and Therapist
“My partner, Steve D, has a physical impairment (spinal injury) which affects us all as a family, myself included. 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.”
New Referrals and Staff Manager
“I'm usually the first person you'll speak to when you contact us. I’ve had MS for years and use a wheelchair when my legs go on strike. Like most people, I have good and bad days. I understand the mountain disabled people have to climb on a daily basis. From the fear of dependency to the loss of autonomy and health and all the other things that come with living with an impairment, I’m passionate about helping people find their own way and helping them along that path.”
“I was an unpaid carer for many years for two of my children who have impairments and I also worked with disabled people in other therapy settings. I retrained as a therapist six years ago and have been privileged to experience and witness the changes clients have been able to make for themselves. I believe therapy is a process that works and my work with Spokz People has only reinforced this belief.”
Finance and Admin Manager
“I joined the team in March 2013 and am responsible for making sure all data is collated anonymously and securely. If you pay for your sessions via bank transfer, you’ll receive receipts from me. I also work for our sister company Spokz and enjoy providing support in a background capacity.”
Director and Chairman
“I’ve had a spinal injury for 25 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 a state-of-the-art wheelchair 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.”
“After a career in independent finance and senior management, I retired and retrained as a therapist. I am passionate about working with people who are not able to access the services that organisations such as Spokz People offer. My family has a history of Downs Syndrome and Diabetes Type 1, so I’ve seen first hand how much impairment and chronic illness can impact on families and how therapy and support can radically improve this."
Supporting Spokz People
See how you can get involved
As a non-profit organisation, we are always looking for ways you can get involved with Spokz People. The more people who know about us, the more people we can support.
Can you spare an hour or two a week? Would you be up for distributing leaflets in your local area? Do you have IT, marketing or PR skills? Are you a student therapist with disability experience looking to increase your practice hours? Whatever skills and time you have to give, we would love to hear from you. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what you would like to do.
If you have a disability and have some cool pictures of yourself that you would not mind us featuring on our website, we would love to hear from you. We want to use real people wherever possible and replace our current stock imagery.
Press, radio and TV
We love talking about what Spokz People do and are very up for sharing information and commenting on disability topics relating to mental health, wellbeing and therapy. You can download our press kit here or if you would like Mel or any of our team to appear or speak on your programme or to comment on your article, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com
As a non-profit organisation, we are always looking for donations to fund the running costs of our free helpline and online forum. Anything you can spare would really help. Wellbeing for disabled people is a massively underfunded area and most disabled people are on low incomes, so we always struggle to find suitable grants we can apply for which affects what service we can offer people. We do not make a profit from the services we offer. The fees we charge merely cover the cost of sessions, so we are always looking to raise money to support the work we are doing and to expand our services wherever possible. We really believe that what we have developed can help transform the lives of people with disabilities and our aim is to make our service accessible and affordable (hopefully one day for free) to as many people as possible.
If you have a spare fiver or fifty to donate, we promise to make every penny go the extra mile.