Meet Thomas, a member of Coventry Youth Activists (CYA)

"Hi! My name is Thomas and I am a member of Coventry Youth Activists (CYA). We are a youth led disability campaign group who believe in young disabled people having a voice, breaking down barriers and ending online discrimination .

I contacted Mencap and was put in touch with Bindya, a community activism coach, to talk about the campaign for raising awareness of online disability hate crime .

We have regular catch ups and we talk about campaigning techniques. Bindya has helped me to share my campaign with other organisations and groups. Together we come up with actions and goals to work towards. This helps me to plan my campaign work by giving me steps to achieve my goal of stopping online disability hate crime.

I read some really shocking statistics about how many disabled people have received abuse online. It made me feel angry and want to do something about it. CYA have met with people from Ofcom and Facebook and we gave our views to the consultation for the Online Safety Act. On social media there isn’t an easy way to report disability hate crime. I know disabled people who have experienced hate online and it’s really upset them. We need to do something to stop this.

Hate speech towards disabled people is not only the least reported it is also underreported. This is due to the disabled community feeling they are not always able to stand up for themselves. Some disabled people feel their voices are not respected."

Why did Coventry Youth Activists create an Ally Pack? 

"We created an online Ally Pack to raise awareness of what online disability hate and ableism is and how you can challenge it. Coventry Youth Activists recognises disabled people may not have strong networks or connections that can offer support when issues arise online."

Why do Coventry Youth Activists need allies?

"We believe allies can support the disabled community to be empowered. We recognise that at times the voices of non-disabled people are listened to more and we want to tap into this power and potential. The online disabled community is growing but we need more people to stand in solidarity with us."

"You can check out the Ally Pack on the CYA website

Once registered it gives you tools and tips on how you can play an active role in reporting online hate speech towards disabled people."

The front cover of the Ally pack

"We are hosting an online network event for our allies on Friday 12 July 2024.

We hope it will help organisations such as Mencap work with us so we can tackle online disability hate and ableism together." - Thomas.

For information and to find out about the event please contact: covactivists@gmail.com