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ON HIATUS: Statement on the future of The Unwritten

Updated 28/08/23: Please note, we are on hiatus and emails will not be checked. Our Twitter is also not monitored so please follow editor Rachel on Twitter if you want to keep in touch.

I wanted to update you all on the future of The Unwritten. As you all know I started The Unwritten to give disabled people the space to tell our own authentic stories in a way mainstream media just wasn’t allowing. And though it’s only been a short time, I truly believe we’ve made waves.

However, as my career grows and my conditions worsen, I’ve had to make an incredibly hard decision.

From August, The Unwritten will be on a 6 months hiatus, during which time I will be assessing its and my own direction. 

In the meantime, we have a raft of content still to get out and will be publishing everything we’ve commissioned between now and June. To allow this to happen, we will not be accepting any more pitches. 

We will also still ensure that we pay all writers what they deserve. With this in mind, I’d love it if supporters still did so until July, to ensure all invoices can be paid asap. I want to stress that this decision wasn’t made because of a lack of funding, but because I need to listen to my own body. 

I’m so proud of the voices we’ve elevated and the content we’ve published. Since our launch in December 2020, we’ve published over 200 pieces on so many different aspects of disabled life, paying nearly 100 disabled writers over £3,000. 

The Unwritten from its inception has been a crowdfunded publication and while we’re so grateful for everything donated, this has meant I’ve never been able to pay editors, though I’m very lucky and thankful that Cath, Caroline and Hannah have donated their time. 

This has however meant the majority of running the site has been down to me – with the amazing Laura as inbox gremlin these last couple of months.

While I try to publish as much as I can, I am just one person and a disabled one at that. This is why, for the sake of my mental and physical health, I’ve made the decision to pause The Unwritten. This hasn’t been a decision I’ve made lightly, and I feel tremendously guilty about doing so, but I think now is the right time.

Thank you so much to all of our writers, supporters and readers who have always been there. This isn’t goodbye, it’s see you in a little while.

Rachel Charlton-Dailey

Founder and Editor-in-Chief

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Editors Notes: IPSO Told me Nobody Complains About the UK Media’s Ableism- so Let’s Prove Them Wrong

One of my goals this year is to make a lasting change in the reporting of disability in the media. So when I secured a meeting with the head of standards and regulation at the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) about guidelines for reporting disability I thought I was one step closer. Oh, how wrong I was.

IPSO regulates some of the biggest papers in the UK, including Daily Mail, The Sun, The Times, The Telegraph, and Metro – some of the worst offenders in the last decade of casual and downright overt ableism.

But instead of discussing potentially coming up with guidance, I was told by the biggest print media regulator in the UK that there was no remit for this.

Because apparently, nobody complains about the way the media writes about disabled people in this country.

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Happy Holidays from Team Unwritten

As the festive period draws in for us we wanted to take a quick minute to wish you all happy holidays and thank you all for your support this year.

We hope that you have a wonderful festive period, that it’s full of rest, joy and not too stressful. If you find Christmas hard, as many do, we hope you can get through it in whichever way is best for you.

Thank you all for the incredible amount of support you have shown us this year, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our incredible disabled community.

Be kind to yourselves, remember to fight the system but always prioritise rest. If you need some extra ways to look after yourself, we recommend last year’s Happy Holidays piece.

See you in the new year,

Rachel, Cath and Caroline

The Unwritten editorial team

ps please enjoy Rachel’s dog and editorial assistant Rusty in his Christmas outfits

a black and tan dachsung wearing a rd christmas jumper that is decorated to look like santas outfit with a hood that has a white bobble on the end like santas hat
a black and tan dachshund is a green coat decorated to look like an elves outfit
a black and tan dachshund wearing a green coat decorated to look like a christmas tree

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Editors Notes: It’s Hard to get out of “Work Mode” When it’s Your Life – but I’m Trying

I’m very lucky that I get to make a living out of something I’m passionate about. However, the fact that my job is so connected to such an important part of my life, is often a detriment to me.

I always wanted to be able to give my community a voice and be able to shout about the issues disabled people face on big platforms, but in doing so, I use a lot of emotional and mental energy. It’s almost impossible to stop focusing on the things that I do for work.

We’re always told to have a healthy work-life balance but this isn’t always the case when your work is about your community and directly about the issues you face. 

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Happy Holidays From The Unwritten

Today is the last day before the holiday season kicks off here at The Unwritten so myself and the rest of the editorial team wanted to send you all some festive wishes.

I know as disabled and chronically ill people this Christmas is going to be a bit different and it might be tough in parts, but we can make it special in our own way.

I hope you all have a Christmas time that is restful and full of joy despite the circumstances we find ourselves in. Most of all despite everything, I still have hope for 2022 and hopefully you still do too. 

I’ve also asked my lovely team to give some of their tips for getting through the holidays, and quite frankly, theirs are magnificent, as are they. So I’m going to start off with my slightly more mediocre ones first.

Naps are for heroes

 Yknow who naps? Captain America, probably. Yes I know he’s a supersoldier but are you telling me he doesn’t love a nap? (Bucky, definitely doesn’t nap, that’s why he’s so grumpy.)

Anyway that’s beside the point. Naps are the best. Naps are restorative, but they also give you a break from the noise of festivities leaving you to come back in a few hours feeling a little bit fresher.

Give yourself permission to say no

I know at Christmas it may seem like you have to do everything to please your family and friends but here’s a reminder – you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you don’t want to go to someone’s house you don’t bloody have to, you’re an adult!

Break it up into small manageable chunks

In the old times, my Christmas morning consisted of around 25 people crammed into my grandparent’s house, we’d literally spill across three rooms! While I loved it, I now realise that this just isn’t feasible with my immune system.

So this year my aunties, uncles cousins, etc are all staggering visits to my grandparents. My husband and I are making Christmas eve a family visit day and breaking it down over 3 houses with small groups in each one, then we’re spending the “big day” as a family with our sausage dog Rusty.  This reduces the stress considerably. 

I’m going to hand it over now to my lovely team. Once again wishing you all a happy holidays!

Caroline McDonagh-Delves – Deputy Editor

If the holiday season can be happy for you, I wish that for you now. We all thought 2021 obviously had to be better than 2020 and in many instances it just… wasn’t. I hope that with a little help from your friends and some self care pointers, you can get 2022 off to the best possible start.

Stay safe. 

I know we’ve all been saying it for the best part of two years, and the words have mostly begun to lose their meaning, but it is still as important as ever.

Whether that’s managing risks from covid-19, making sure you’ve all the equipment and medication you need to get through the bank holidays, or looking after your mental health in what is often a trying time. If you haven’t ordered your medication, stop reading and phone your GP now!

Exert your boundaries

You don’t have to stay in a situation or conversation that you feel is detrimental to your health and wellbeing. You can turn down invites, change the subject, or simply leave the room. If this one is feeling difficult, excuse yourself to the toilet or ask a friend to call you for a perfect “leave the table” situation.

Manage your time

If, like I was last year, you’re unlucky enough to have to work this festive season, it doesn’t mean it has to be a bust. Christmas dinner or presents don’t necessarily have to be done on Christmas Day, you can schedule those things when they work for you. Also, don’t forget to plan for rest – you deserve it.

Cath Poucher – Sub-Editor

I’m sending all the readers and contributors of The Unwritten lots of love and best wishes for a fantastic festive season, with the hope of a wonderful few days for you all. As a seasoned optimist I’m keeping my fingers crossed that next year will get easier for us, so that wishing you a “Happy New Year” won’t be an empty greeting.

The holiday season can be difficult, and with a second festive season of limitations and restrictions, these are some self-care tips to look after yourself this year:

Give yourself a “pass” to remove yourself

Christmas can present lots of triggers and obligations that can make us uncomfortable or have a negative impact on your mental health.

While sometimes we can feel, or indeed are obligated to do these things, remember to know your limit. Sometimes it’s okay to say, “no”. Take a break if you need to; stick on a Christmas film, read a book or do something relaxing for you.

Plan Ahead

If possible, try to plan ahead. Any triggers, accessibility issues, or problematic situations that may occur? Try to think ahead and plan ways that will enable you to cope with that issue. Do you have someone that can support you in this difficult situation? If so, enlist them to provide support if needed.

Manage those difficult people in advance

Dreading confronting those difficult family members with awkward or downright offensive comments? While some people are confident in challenging or explaining how they make you feel, this isn’t always possible.

Instead, try one of the following:

  • Plan some answers in advance so you’re not caught off guard
  • Think about how to bring difficult conversations to an end diplomatically and calmly
  • Find an activity or alternative conversation to steer the person to instead.  

I wanted to end this by thanking you all from the bottom of my heart for supporting The Unwritten this past year. Thank you to all the amazing readers, supporters, writers and of course to my fantastic editorial team. 

This last year has been so tough for disabled people but our community is strong. I hope next year that we can continue to represent everything you stand for and given even more of you a voice.

The Unwritten will be taking a break until 3rd January, we can’t wait to work with you then. 

Happy holidays and here’s to a powerful 2022

Rachel and the editorial team

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One Year On

A year ago today, we opened the doors to The Unwritten and my life changed forever. I hope you understand that I’m going to gush for a little bit here and will probably cry.

When we launched, the site had a simple aim – to give disabled people a space to share their stories without reducing them to trauma or inspiration and to pay them fairly for their work.

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Surprise, I’m a Disabled Person

Today on Twitter, someone informed me I was a person. This may sound weird but if you’re a disabled person who tweets about the injustices we live with it’s actually a regular occurrence.

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Introducing The Unwritten Disability and Abuse Survey

It’s been a tough few weeks for women, femmes and all those of marginalised genders who have experienced abuse at the hands of men.

Out of all of the hurt and pain however has come a new battle cry, a demand that we will not be treated like this again. But, unfortunately it’s something that disabled people have been largely left out of.

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Welcome From The Editor

Hello and welcome to The Unwritten! We’re over the moon to be opening our doors today and start publishing content.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much this means to me. I feel like it’s what my life has been building up to for the past ten years, but I don’t think 2010 fashion blogger Rach would believe you if you told her that in ten years time she’ll launch a platform for the disabled community.

But now, having been given the space to write about disability rights, I want to pass the mic over. The awful circumstances of this year have made me realise how vital it is that disabled people have a space to share their stories. Too often the only time you hear about disabled people is when it’s to inspire nondisabled people “this man with no legs ran a marathon, what’s stopping you?” or give them the warm fuzzies “look at this deaf woman hearing her baby cry!!”. Even worse is that a lot of the time the only way disabled writers can get published is when we plunge the depths of our trauma for clicks. And far too often we’re not fairly compensated for our work.

That’s where we come in. My dream is for The Unwritten to be somewhere where disabled people feel truly represented and see content that is actually written for them, not about them.

I hope that by launching The Unwritten I can make a positive change in how disabled people see themselves and are represented in media.

But more than anything, I want The Unwritten to be somewhere where you can tell your whole story, not an edited version. You don’t have to fit into a nice little box here, you are valid, no matter what.

Speak soon


Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Love our content? Want to help us pay disabled writers and continue to build this amazing platform? Find out how you can support us