A report by Britain's walking charity The Ramblers reveals the disparity in access to the outdoors
I am a freelance journalist based in North Staffordshire. I write on a range of topics, with a particular interest in disability and mental health, wellbeing, the arts, and travel. My work appears in publications including the Guardian, the i paper, National Geographic Traveller, Mslexia, Psychologies, Wellcome Stories, Stylist, Happiful, and Adventure Travel.
I also write short stories for children and adults, and have worked as a copywriter producing case studies for projects at Staffordshire University and the University of Wolverhampton.
A report by Britain's walking charity The Ramblers reveals the disparity in access to the outdoors
Growing up, trips to the theatre for me involved squinting at the stage, unable to follow what was happening. Being partially sighted, plays have felt out of my reach. But now here I am standing on the stage at Curve theatre in Leicester, running my fingers along the delicate gold sequins of a costume for A Chorus Line.
History is writ large across the Staffordshire city, with medieval treasures and intriguing museums to discover.
In his new show, Si Rawlinson mixes hip-hop, contemporary dance and physical theatre to explore how we present ourselves in the workplace
Do you dream of a work life that falls outside of the typical 9-5 or have multiple passions you want to explore? A portfolio career might be the path for you. Here’s what you need to know.
Frontlinedance works in communities to remove barriers for disabled people and those with long-term health conditions – and there’s no distinction between teacher and learner
Am I still me? How can I get over what happened? For a while, I found myself constantly pondering questions such as these, struggling to sleep as my worries plagued me. Five years ago, I experienced serious mental health issues, and rediscovering and accepting myself has been a challenge.
In the second instalment of our series exploring our relationship with the world around us, we step into spring, considering the ways that walking through this budding environment can refresh our minds
Over the last year, Caroline Butterwick has investigated how writing can help make sense of being disabled. In this final instalment of her Writing Myself series, Caroline talks to two fellow creatives about the ups and downs of drawing on lived experience, ultimately asking herself if she’ll ever want to write about anything else.
hree women - Pravda (meaning "justice"), Istina ("truth"), and Nada ("hope") - sit around a table, grinding coffee and telling stories. Around them on stage are men's boots, belts and a hat. The men are no longer here but killed in war. It's what writer and director Susan Moffat calls "the presence of absence".
An age gap in friendship can open you to the potential of new experiences and a fresh perspective. Find out what happens when you form a friendship that's based on mutual interests and shared values.
"I think a lot of people view me as just a bit of an angry disabled audience member," says Shona Louise. "And that's definitely not the case at all - we have something of value to give." Louise's lived experience of being a disabled person is at the heart of her work as an access consultant.
Set just north of Windemere, amid the Lake District's dramatic landscapes and pretty villages, Ambleside's location takes some beating. The town itself has plenty to offer travellers, too: potter along streets lined with Victorian slate buildings, where, naturally, outdoors shops sell everything from compasses to walking boots.
In our final set of case studies exploring the impact of Arts Council England’s new funding round, we speak to Ballet Black, Disability Arts Online and Camden Art Centre
It’s totally normal to compare yourself to others when working out, but it can have a detrimental impact on your mental health and enjoyment.
What is it like to navigate not only a stage but the entire theatre industry as a blind person? From the practicalities of performing to harmful preconceptions about the roles visually impaired actors can play - and how blindness itself is portrayed - there is a lot to deal with.
Hiking is great exercise and a way to get outdoors. Visually impaired writer Caroline Butterwick considers how she and other people with disabilities can make the most of hiking, and her sense of belonging in the natural world.
Worryingly few disabled students are aware of the funding and support available to them. This needs to change
For those of us who celebrate, the holidays are bound with traditions and ideas of what a 'perfect Christmas' looks like. It can be a time of year full of additional pressures we don't need, from feeling like we have to cook an Insta-worthy roast, to buying presents that painfully dent our bank balance, or spending the day doing things we don't enjoy but feel obliged to do.
Whether you're a dedicated thrill seeker or looking for a fun family day out, the UK is home to plenty of exciting theme parks. When you have a disability, making the most of visiting a theme park takes some extra consideration.
Article for Mslexia exploring my experience of running creative writing workshops for wellbeing
For some, the pandemic placed an added significance to our sense of community, as we stayed close to home and people helped each other out. But still, many of us aren't familiar with who lives on our street, or even next door, with 73% of people in the UK saying they don't know their neighbours.
Over the uncertainty of the pandemic, more and more of us have experienced struggles with our mental health, and with our professional lives in flux, getting the support we need at work is increasingly important.
Whether it's ice skating, stringing fairy lights around the tree or cosying up to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol with a tub of Quality Street, there are lots of ways to enjoy the festive season.
Going to university can be an exciting time. With the chance to focus on a subject you love, make friends, and try new experiences, many find student life enjoyable and fulfilling. But starting university can also be daunting. And if you have a mental health problem, or another health condition, it can be even harder to adjust to student life.
Feature originally published in Writing Magazine about how we can draw on difficult life experiences in our writing in a way that's sensitive, relevant, and powerful.
Whether strolling up a local hill or attempting the Three Peaks Challenge, hiking is an activity with a range of benefits. According to mental health charity Mind, spending time exercising outdoors in nature can benefit our mental health by improving our mood and reducing feelings of stress.
It's perhaps fair to say North Staffordshire's best-known attraction is Alton Towers, with its thrills and spills, but this sometimes-overlooked part of the Midlands has plenty to offer travellers after a little less high-octane activity.
Many of us share difficult things we've been through, but it isn't always easy - who hasn't taken a deep breath while weighing up whether to tell a friend about an upsetting experience as you have coffee together? Whether it's opening up about mental illness to colleagues, or tweeting about first-hand experiences of discrimination, we're encouraged to share our stories with others.
Do you have a passion you want others to enjoy too? Caroline Butterwick looks at how we can bring communities together with art, poetry and song From crochet to cookery, many of us have a creative hobby we take pleasure from in our day-to-day lives.
As writer Caroline Butterwick tackles the climb up Loughrigg Fell in the Lake District, she is acutely aware not just of the natural environment, but of other walkers’ opinions of her. While her visual impairment means she needs to pay careful attention to the rough terrain, the fluctuating challenge of disabled identity is always on her mind too.
Caroline Butterwick was born with the rare genetic condition Ocular Albinism and is partially sighted. She married her fiancé Gary in July 2019. From checking the lighting to the room layout, here's how she made sure her day was accessible
Whether you're a pro at poetry, knowledgeable about technology, or love getting creative in the kitchen, we all have skills we take pride in. But why not take these beyond our own enjoyment, and share them with others?
Caroline Butterwick has always been partially sighted, but she hasn’t always used a cane. Now that she does, she realises that it makes her feel different and look more obviously disabled. In the first of a series of six articles, Caroline explores the idea of disability as performative, and the pressure to act out what we think others expect.
Feature exploring the disability arts scene in the UK, speaking to two disabled artists about how art can be used to break down barriers and celebrate their lives.
Something on your mind? Why not produce, publish, and distribute your own magazine about it? All that creativity is therapeutic, empowering, and fun.
Feature on how to use everyday items to create art.
Learn how to let go of self-deprecation, and instead talk positively about your achievements
Sharing her story of mental illness and treatment with trainee social workers has helped Caroline Butterwick make sense of her past, and continues to be a positive part of her life today.
Whether learning a language or penning poetry, there are lots of opportunities to develop fresh skills. But alongside the excitement of starting something new can come anxiety about whether we'll be good enough. With so many benefits to exploring unknown talents and broadening our knowledge, the question is: what can we do to feel more confident about learning a skill or hobby, and embrace being a beginner?
Caroline Butterwick heads to the Lake District to tackle Helm Crag, one of the area's most distinctive peaks, with a summit rock formation known as the Lion and the Lamb. "The re's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes," I said to my partner as we clutched our coffees and listened to the rain hit overhead.
Gratitude lists, or the habit of regularly recording down and reflecting on things you’re grateful for in your life, can help us focus, take time out for ourselves and help us celebrate what brings us joy. Here’s everything you need to know about starting to write one.
How to make the most of visiting UK tourist attractions, from thrilling theme parks to fascinating museums.
Whether it's to celebrate a milestone, or if you just want to take some time to reflect, there are lots of creative activities we can do to revisit our memories.
Shares my experience of attending an Arvon writing retreat
Feature exploring how I came to accept my identity as a disabled person
For many of us, our sense of connection with our community has grown over the past year, and looking at what we have locally can help us appreciate where we live, boosting our wellbeing, and helping us feel closer to the people and places around us.
Whether it’s leading a discussion with social work students about how to support someone in crisis or sharing our story as part of a campaign, there are lots of ways we can use our experience of living with disability, as Caroline Butterwick explores.
I was born with a visual impairment, but coming to terms with its effect on my life wasn't straight-forward. Then, as a teenager, I began to experience mental health issues. I was uncertain and worried, and at times felt like I was the only person going through these things even though, according to the disability charity Scope, there are 14.1 million disabled people in the UK.
Explores the support available to disabled artists and how to get into the arts, and draws on my experience of being mentored through an artist development programme
Whether it's exploring a local park, or finding solace tending to plants in the garden, over the past year many of us have come to better appreciate nature closer to home. According to research from charity Mind, spending time in nature can support our mental health, and anyone who has experienced the feeling of a winter morning's air can attest to how it can clear our minds.
Shares how I organised an inclusive and accessible wedding
From friends guiding me through crowded bars, to strangers helping me find a seat on the train, I've experienced lots of support as a partially-sighted person. But I've also come across plenty of misconceptions about what it means to live with sight loss.
Staying in touch with friends and family isn't just about being sociable - it's something that actually supports our wellbeing. But not all our loved ones live close by, which can make meeting up for a meal, or popping round for a coffee, hard to do as often as we'd like.
Located on the edge of the Peak District and a popular base for those visiting Alton Towers, Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire have a growing vegan scene, says Caroline Butterwick. Published on 12 Jun 2019 The Quarter 65 Piccadilly The Quarter is located on Piccadilly, an area of the city centre that's great for unique independent businesses and also home to two other Stoke vegan favourites, Rawr and Klay.
Guidance on accessing disabled student support
Listen Starting university was daunting enough. How would I cope living away from home? Would I make friends? Would the workload be okay? These are all fears most people have when packing up boxes of crockery and clothes ready to become students. But on top of these anxieties were worries about how I would manage [...]
Starting a new job can be exciting. It may be a wonderful chance to do something you enjoy, make new friends, develop your skills, and, at the very least, earn a living. But, for many of us, the build up to our first day can also come with increased anxiety.
Case study exploring the creation of a piece of community art, as part of the evaluation of Appetite, an Arts Council England funded project in Stoke-on-Trent.
Case study on community art project produced as part of the evaluation of Appetite, an Arts Council England funded project in Stoke-on-Trent
Case study exploring the role of community arts events for Stoke-on-Trent City Council, as part of the evaluation of Appetite, an Arts Council England funded project in Stoke-on-Trent
Case study on community theatre project, as part of the evaluation of Appetite, an Arts Council England funded project in Stoke-on-Trent
Case study on a community arts project, as part of the evaluation of Appetite, an Arts Council England funded project in Stoke-on-Trent
Two Weeks After The World Ended by Caroline Butterwick Will Tesco still deliver? She thinks this while her fingers sting through the freezer on a numb hunt for anything to make a passable meal. She pulls out half bags of green beans and roast potatoes, throws the packets on the kitchen counter, then runs her stinging hands under the hot tap.
The UK is home to dozens of theme parks offering fun days out. Accessing attractions can be a challenge for people with disabilities, but parks have plans in place to make it easier. Check the park's website for their disability guide, which will tell you about their individual policies, or phone their customer services team.
A short story for young children
The move to university is daunting for anyone, but it is especially so for many students with SEN. Knowing what support is available and getting it set up before starting university is a key part of making the transition to higher education go as smoothly as possible.
A short story for children age 9-12, based on a true historical event
Piece giving advice to parents, carers, and new and prospective students on accessing disabled student support at Staffordshire University
Article on the restoration of the Jorvik Viking Centre in York
Feature looking at the history and conservation of Castlerigg Stone Circle
Feature about the Calvert Trust centre that offers outdoor activity breaks for disabled people near Keswick, Lake District