(logo designed and explained by Frieda Van de Poll)

Explanation of the logo:

The Kolibri or Hummingbird is a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible. For the native Americans, the bird is a symbol of rebirth, and of resurrection. It brings special messages for us, in its capacity of going in any direction; the only creature that can stop while traveling at full speed and the only bird that can fly backwards as well as forwards, up and down.

Frida had a special connection with this bird. She painted her eyebrows in the arc of the wings of the hummingbird, perhaps identifying herself with the extraordinary life skills of this colourful, tiny and vulnerable bird with the heart of an eagle. The logo is set in a stamp which fits the idea of the kolibri being a messenger… 

Sisters of Frida is an experimental co operative of disabled and allied women. We want a new way of sharing experiences, mutual support and relationships with different networks.

We are seeking to build a/or different networks of disabled women. UK had a national disabled women organization UK Disability Forum for European Affairs (UKDFfEA) Women’s Committee which is not active now although you can still read their excellent website. The barriers and multiple discrimination have not changed, we still struggle to have our voices heard as disabled women in our own rights.

We would like a sisterhood, a circle of disabled women and allies to discuss, share our experiences and explore possibilities.

Why Sisters of Frida?

We took a long time deliberating on a name. We are disabled women but that is not our only identity – we are also embracing the whole package of being women and disabled. And we believe strongly in the social model of disability. We want to celebrate the difference of being of different ethnic origins, different cultures and nationalities, of different sexual orientation, of being mums, having partners and being single women. We are creative and our creativeness is born from our identities – of the very pain of being impaired and disabled at times. But we are not victims.

Hence we found a role model in Frida Kahlo. She is not one immediately associated with disability and yet her art was filled with images of the crippled body. She was also an activist and she wanted a life full of love, of relationships. In her art we also glimpse the dark landscape of her mental health in the aftermath of still births and in her stormy relationship with Diego Riveria.

We can strive to live our lives as full as she did

The women involved in this co operative

Anne Pridmore was twice Chair of UK Disabled Peoples Council (formerly British Council of Disabled People) and Chair of UK Disability Forum for European Affairs (UKDFfEA)  during this time she became very aware of the discrimination disabled women experience.  As a result of this she set up a U K Disability Forum women’s committee the only one in the UK at this time.   This was known as EDF (European Disability Forum) Women’s Committee, and it was during this time she was privileged to travel all over Europe speaking to and on behalf of disabled women on Violence and Abuse and Independent Living.  She also took an active part in writing the Manifesto by Disabled Women in Europe which was launched in the European Parliament on 4 December 1999 and accepted.

During the last three years she has created a website (Being the Boss) to address the lack of peer support available to disabled people who employ their own Personal Assistants (PAs), Support Workers or Carers.  They have designed and developed a Disabled Persons Employers Handbook and formed an Association of Disabled People.

arminehArmineh Soorenian completed her PhD in Disability Studies in 2011.  She studied disabled international students’ experiences in English universities with a view to create a more inclusive education setting.  She has promoted these ideas in national and international workshops and presentations.

Armineh has served on a number of local and national committees related to disability and education, including the British Council’s Disability Advisory Panel and National Students Forum.  She has also worked in disability arts organisations in Leeds.  Through all these involvements, Armineh has gained a great deal of experience about multiple barriers disabled people face in their daily lives and how these can be removed, through policy and practice.  This, reinforced by her firsthand experience of disability has infused her to work towards an equal and inclusive world for all.

Ellen Clifford is a mental health service user who has been involved in campaigning for the rights of disabled people for the past 13 years.

She has worked supporting People First self advocacy organisations on both national and local levels and has set up disabled people’s organisations in Newham and Bromley.

Ellen is a former Trustee of Wish and is currently on the national steering group for Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC).  Ellen works for Inclusion London as their Campaigns and Communications Officer.

…..

Eleanor Firman is active in the arts.

She is composer, teacher and Music Director. As a collaborator with artists working in different mediums she has composed music for over twentyfive projects to date. She is also involved in the politics of Land and Natural Resources including affordable housing, taxation, banking and credit.

Eleanor is based in London.

..


Eleanor Lisney
is the founder of Sisters of Frida, and co founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). She worked for Disability Awareness in Action (DAA) as their Access and Information Co-Ordinator.

She is the Chair of Connect Culture, a community based group based in Coventry. In the past Eleanor has been an appointed member of Equality 2025 and worked as Relationship Manager at the School of Lifelong Learning, Coventry University.

Eleanor is a member of the Access Association and the NUJ in the West Midlands. She is also on the British Council Disability Advisory Panel.

Frieda

Frieda van de Poll is a visual artist based in Coventry. Her media are painting, ceramics and textiles, combining the technique of knitting and crocheting with ceramics and recycled materials. She trained in Amsterdam, her hometown, and exhibited many times in the Netherlands and the UK.
In addition to her creative work, Frieda teaches fine art classes for groups and individuals at Coventry Artspace and offers outreach workshops.
She engages with a wide variety of communities, and has considerable experience of working with people of all age ranges and abilities in arts, community and educational settings, both through the outreach programme of Coventry Artspace and through JunkArt, stimulating self expression and creativity. Frieda draws on myths and legends to reflect personal and communal experiences and strongly believes in the potential of arts and crafts to bring together people of all races and cultures.
Frieda is committee member of Connect Culture, a community based group based in Coventry.

Michelle Daley is an independent disability equality trainer, consultant and a campaigner. She has worked for a number of organisations both at local, national and international level to develop, promote and implement policies on equality and diversity. She is also a founder member of the 2020 Campaign. Her work has played a major role in promoting and influencing the inclusion of disabled people in the mainstream. Michelle is a former member of Equality 2025 and sits on the Independent Living Scrutiny Group.

For a number of years Michelle has actively worked at the grass root level addressing issues such as access, education, independent living and cultural diversity.

Martine Miel  has worked on issues relating to race, disability and gender equality over the last fifteen years. Her professional journey began with human rights organisation Anti-Slavery International where she worked as Education Officer and since then she has been involved in grass roots and cross community projects and organisations both as a worker and as a Trustee. She co-ordinated an inclusive youth arts provision for children and young people in Brixton, spent 6 months in Palestine volunteering with human rights organisations and managed a Pan African band singing largely Shona music. Last year she trained as a Mentor and worked with young people helping to develop their life skills and supporting them into education, employment or training. She is currently working as a Personal Assistant/support worker for disabled people and volunteering on a Helpline that provides emotional and practical support to women and families who are living with or escaping from domestic violence. She is also a Locum worker for Centrepoint, an organisation that provides housing and on-going support for homeless young people

Maria Zedda is currently vice  Chair of the London 2012 Disability Communities Engagement Group, representing disabled communities’ feedback to LOCOG, organisers of the Olympic and Paralympic Games on issues of access, marketing and representation of disabled people.

Maria is also on the Board of Trustees for the British Library’s Business and IP Centre and is a trustee of the Creative Board at Ability Media. She’s also a qualified Access Auditor and has achieved numerous Audit commissions, such as the British Library in London, to the Central Library in Edinburgh.

Sarah RennieSarah Rennie is a director at the Wisdom Factory CIC.

After a successful year as Disabled Students Union Officer at Cardiff University in her first year, Sarah left the world of disability to train and work as a property solicitor. She now uses her commercial experience to support businesses but is equally passionate about disabled people empowering themselves as consumers.

Sarah is a member of several Equality and Diversity panels for public sector bodies and is presently the Access Association’s President and a member of  Birmingham’s Access Committee.  In her spare time, she is also working towards her Masters in Accessibility and Inclusive Design.

..

 Svetlana Kotova is a lawyer and she has worked promoting human rights of disabled people for many years.
As part of her work in Russia she developed a legal advocacy network, which offers free legal advice and support to disabled people and their families.  She brought first in Russia Disability Discrimination court cases and successfully lobbied for legislative changes.
She has worked a lot internationally, was involved in the process of development of the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, later worked with the UN to promote ratification and implementation of the Convention in different countries.
Until recently she worked for Disability LIB, building the capacity of DPOs in England.  She also designed and delivered human rights trainings for Disability Awareness in Action.  She is doing some voluntary work for Legal Action for Women.
..
Zara Todd

Zara Todd is 26 and lives in London. She has been involved in young peoples and disability rights since she was 12 and has worked both in the UK and internationally trying to increase the voice of young disabled people.

At 17 she set up an award winning website informing young disabled people of their rights and in 2004 Zara made a film about engaging with disabled young people which has been shown in both Canada and Russia. She was a member of Equality 2025 a public body that advises government on how to achieve equality for disabled people for 4 years ending up as the deputy chair. Zara also currently advises on youth participation for the Council for Disabled Children  and has sat on a number of ministerial advisory groups including the Ministerial Implementation Group for ‘Aiming High for Disabled Children. She advises the British Council on disability equality and is a member of the international committee of the UK Disabled People’s Council.  Previously she has worked for or advised a number of organisations including KIDS, SCOPE, Transport for London. She currently works for ALLFIE part-time as a youth worker. She is a trustee of a charity doing work around translated children’s literature called outside in http://www.outsideinworld.org.uk/ .

14 responses »

  1. This blog is really great inspiration for disabled women for Inclusion,Society for Disabled Women Pakistan is striving for uplift of disabled women basic rights and recognition in marginalized communities in Pakistan since 1997. SDW Pakistan also working for promotion of Inclusive Education and mobilizing disabled children girls and boys from poor families to have access for primary education in public and private schools.
    We would be happy to learn more for information and knowledge.
    Best Wishes for 2012.

  2. Thank you Eleanor for sharing this site with me it is inspirational. I would really like to swop links with you if you feel this is in keeping with your philosophy. I founded the EDF Womens Committee and was awarded a grant to develop the web site. I am glad you like it.

    Let me know if I can support you in any way.

    Anne Pridmore

  3. I am a disabled woman living in Oregon, USA.. I would very much like to connect with other disabled women and share stories. Thank you,

  4. A very impressive set of women and a great blog/webiste. I hope to follow your activties and join in debates now i have found you.

  5. I’ve been keeping tabs on the Sisters for some time now, and wonder if there’s any way the layperson can get involved? Donations? Some sort of press or fundraising or publications or exhibitions (I’m an artist?) I have been rather discouraged of late with the disabled movement, especially as a Woman of Colour – the “woman” and “colour” seems to get flung in my face on a regular basis and I’m weary, but still determined. Would love to hear if there’s anything I can do, so I can get more involved.

    • hiya! thanks for your interest. What do you mean a ‘layperson’? do you consider yourself disabled? we would love to have you involved. where are you based?

      • I mean layperson in that I am a Bear of Little Brain – I’m not very good at giving convincing, detailed, scientific arguments and research, and reading up on the current laws confound me a fair bit (cogitation issues). I’m based on the Wilts/Dorset border, and know a few disabled people in the area.

      • we are a group of disabled and allied women – not at all for those for giving ‘ convincing, detailed, scientific arguments and research’. some of us are but definitely not all of us. We hope to build new ways of connecting with each other. We have been very slow about getting started because all of us are busy in our own worlds but we are trying. I ll send you an invite through your email -if thats ok?

  6. Wow!!!! how impressive to read all your profiles and to know there is a network of positive disabled women out there.

    I am desperate to learn more about you guys and get involved. I feel so isolated and can do with being involved with positive forward thinking women who have the knowhow.

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