Sally Phillips on the sofa with CYA!

Coventry Youth Activists (CYA) have premiered Episode 1 of their CYA on Your Sofa series and it’s a big one… featuring successful actor Sally Phillips of Bridget Jones, Smack the Pony and Miranda fame!

Sally, a mother of three sons including Olly who has Down’s syndrome, zoomed into the conversation with our young people from her sofa to speak candidly about disability and isolation.

She was welcomed by Prash, Molly, Amanda, Joey, Mel, Kirsty, Sophie and Tom from CYA who are gathering wide-ranging perspectives on isolation in these challenging times as we work towards a new normal where everyone is included.

CYA asked Sally how Olly changed her life and ideas on disability, and also about negativity she has faced online – particularly in the wake of her 2016 documentary on prenatal screening to identify certain disabilities before birth with an option to terminate.

She handled that public debate in much the same way as she hopes people will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis – with empathy, understanding and respect for the different lives we all live.

She says: “Olly has taught me everything that’s worth knowing. He completely reordered my life.

“Now I value how much someone can love over how much someone can remember about the Crimean War.”

She discusses ‘adversity innoculation’ where living with a disability means you get good, if not better, at dealing with challenging situations.

People with disabilities have ‘experience of overcoming’ and in the case of Coronavirus, we are all experiencing the same challenge. The crucial thing to remember though is that life was like that before the virus for a person with a disability and we mustn’t forget that.

And so CYA on Your Sofa will continue to champion disabled people’s right to a good life with more episodes come soon! As Sally says, “We need to keep reiterating the message that it’s not OK not to include people just because it might be a bit harder.”

Please watch and share Sally’s episode – there is so much more to it than we can include in this article. Stay tuned on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for Episode 2!