Disabled Wigan poet secures funding to give readings of his work at wheelchair-accessible venues

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A disabled Wigan poet has secured Arts Council funding to embark on a nationwide tour of poetry readings - all at venues accessible for wheelchair users.

Shaun Fallows has just published his third book of poems, called Redundant Butties. He is a regular at open mic poetry events, but this time wanted to go on tour to bring his poetry to a wider audience.

However he found it difficult to plan as most venues who host poetry events are small and not easy to access for people with disabilities.

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Wigan poet Shaun Fallows with his new book Redundant Butties, his third book of poemsWigan poet Shaun Fallows with his new book Redundant Butties, his third book of poems
Wigan poet Shaun Fallows with his new book Redundant Butties, his third book of poems

Shaun, 40, from Worsley Hall, was born with cerebral palsy and uses a small powered wheelchair to get around.

So he decided to take matters into his own hands and apply for Arts Council funding, with the help of fellow poet and able bodied friend Louise Fazackerly. Their hard work paid off and they received a grant from the arts organisation.

Shaun said: "I've been doing poetry for a long time but just cannot for access reasons branch out doing poetry in other areas of the country as frequently as my able bodied counterparts.

"Amazingly we got the funding and so in March I started a little mini tour of poetry venues, taking in around 10 venues in all.

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"The funding was a small amount to cover travel to and from the venue, accessible accommodation and a PA to help me if needed.

"As well as performing the poetry I'll be blogging all about my experiences as I go. I wanted to do this not only to further myself as poet, but maybe in future give a framework to anyone with a disability who feels blocked by lack of access."

He added: "I've done poetry for around 20 years and although I've come across some amazing people it's also been immensely frustrating as you can't as it currently stands access a lot of venues with a disability, be that in Wigan or other local areas.

"I want others to experience the freedom poetry and spoken word has given me and it shouldn't be the case that options are so limited in comparison to my able bodied friends when you consider we're actually in 2024 - we can tell your watch to turn on a lamp or some music, but we yet we can't improve this?

"I feel really fortunate in that despite these niggling access problems I've managed to publish three books, the most recent titled Redundant Butties.

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"I gave it that title because firstly I thought it sounded funny and I love comedy, but secondly because I feel disability as an issue is the redundant butty that's easiest overlooked."

Shaun will be visiting Liverpool, Southport, Camden, Durham and Kendal during his tour. For details, please visit shaunfallowspoetry.com

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