5 Minutes with Brian

Brian wearing a high visibility vest, a hard hat and glasses

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Yep, hello there. My name’s Brian, I’m 58 and I’m from London in England. I live in Kent now, to be near the family, but I’ll always be a Londoner at heart.

I’m divorced, with 2 grown up sons of 26 and 21 and a granddaughter of 6 months, Millie. She’s a little cracker and loves her grandad.

I’m a Builder. I started out as a brick layer as a young man and then moved into multiple trades before I started running sites.

I don’t really have any hobbies, but I do like a beer in my local (pub) with my boys and sometimes a game of pool.

Can you please tell us a bit about how disability inclusion and accessibility impact you?

It feels a bit strange to be honest because I’m not disabled. But I agreed to share my story because I was diagnosed with depression a while ago now. I’m not really sure what I feel about that, because I don’t really know much about all this mental health stuff and it’s not really something us blokes talk about. It makes you feel a bit daft too, because my life’s really not so bad.

I haven’t told my boys or any of my other family about it yet, I’m not really sure how you even start or if they’d understand. Although, if they were struggling, I really hope they’d tell me.

I have told 1 bloke at work, although he kind of guessed to be honest. He asked me how I was, as you do you know, and I told him I was alright. But then, I was a bit surprised, he said to me “you just don’t seem yourself Brian, are you sure you’re ok?”. I didn’t really know what to say then, so I told him the truth, although I did kind of say it was what the doctor reckoned and I don’t really have a reason to be so fed up.

Give Winston his due, he wasn’t having any of it. He told me that even us fellas have bad times and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just what makes up part of the human race. He did give me something to think about that’s for sure. Since then, Winston has been a rock really and dare say turned from workmate to just mate. Winston even says I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, although he’s tough on me when it comes to my football team losing.

On the upside, I’ve got another good mate now to have a pint with. He loves to give us a bit of Kingston Town on the karaoke as well which is always a good laugh.

Oh yeah and I do wear glasses. I didn’t need them in my 20s, but as I got older my eyes just got worse. I don’t think that’s a disability though, because as long as my glasses are on my face I’m sorted.

If you could deliver a 1 hour workshop, dedicated to disability inclusion, to the entire population what would you focus on?

Well it’s not really something I’d know a lot about, but if I think of it a bit like a safety talk then I guess I’d go with something on mental health. I mean, I didn’t really understand that your mind can get ill just like the rest of your body and I still don’t really understand it but I’m learning.

I’d also do something about men and mental health. Not to say women don’t suffer of course, but my doctor told me some scary numbers about men suffering and also that we (men) aren’t so good at telling anyone. I suppose I am one of those numbers.

I knew a fella at work once who took his own life and none of us could understand it, you see, he had a lovely wife and 2 little kiddies. But that word, suicide, just isn’t something you talk about is it? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not been in that place myself, but I guess now I just think about how other people feel a bit more.

Are there places, systems, or services you regularly find difficult to access?

Not really. I guess my story’s a bit different to some people’s. Mind you, I do tell some porkies (lies) when people are having parties and all that. It’s not really that I can’t go, just that sometimes I really don’t want to and that’s something that people really don’t get; you end up being pegged as Boring Brian, which is what my sister calls me now, because all them people in one place are just too much sometimes.

Oh yeah, and some of these prints you find on packaging and that are so small that I can’t even read them with my glasses on.

Do you have the same accessibility challenges at home?

I don’t really have any issues at home, except trying to read some of the labels on food so I know how to cook them. It’s not even just small writing, sometimes they use weird colours, so I can’t work out what it says.

Oh and all these new phones give too much away about you. If I’m just not feeling like talking and someone sends me a message, they can always tell I’ve read it even if I don’t reply. Then they end up getting the hump, thinking you’re ignoring them. I’m not really up with technology, but what is it with people all needing a reply within 5 minutes?

If you could change just 2 things to improve accessibility, what would you start with?

I think we need to educate young people, particularly boys, about things like depression. I know in my own head now that it’s not about being weak, although I do sometimes have to remind myself, but we still see all these expectations put on our kids. You know, boys should be tough and play with cars and girls should be sweet and play with dolls. I am a bit of an old dinosaur, but I’ve got with the programme here. My Millie can play with all the cars and dinosaurs she likes, mind you at the moment she only really likes her blanket and that horrible panda of hers that plays an annoying song, and if I’m blessed with a little grandson then he can come crying to grandad whenever he needs to.

My second thing would probably be for the building sites. I know we’re getting more women on there now, but it’s still a bit of a boy’s club most of the time. So, I reckon if we could somehow get people who know about depression and stuff to talk to the whole site then it just might help some people. It’s never easy, because we’ve got so many deadlines to meet and people breathing down our necks, but I still think it’d be a good one to target.

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