Weston-super-Mare man tells his story of being bullied because of his disability
PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 October 2016 | UPDATED: 13:56 26 October 2016
A Weston-super-Mare man has been called 'so many names' due to his disability and is hoping to spread awareness of prejudice in the town following Hate Crime Awareness Week.
Mark Bowden, aged 51, had a fall as a child which has left him disabled. He has learning difficulties and severe arthritis, which means he finds it difficult to walk.
But Mr Bowden has had other hardships to deal with, including being called a host of names and even being bullied while playing skittles, which Mark insists has no bearing on his skittles team themselves.
He told the Mercury: “I used to make a joke out of it when people used to stay nasty things. But a joke is a joke and when people take it too far it is really hurtful.
“I don’t remember much of my accident but I know I fell when I was nine. I also know I am lucky to be alive.
“I have been called so many names. Sometimes people would shout ‘retard’ at me and I did used to fight back.
“But sometimes I think that is what they want and I now know I need to get support and I try to ignore it.”
Mark has found support in North Somerset People First, which is a charity which supports people with learning disabilities and encourages them to speak up for themselves.
The charity, North Somerset Council and members of Weston BID were all out and about on a specialist bus providing people with information about hate crime to mark the week of action.
Mr Bowden added: “North Somerset People First has been amazing. They make you realise you can stand up for yourself.
“I really want people to realise it is happening in Weston and I think it is a good thing to get people to understand what goes on.
“If you have a problem you can go to People First and I am glad I did.”
For more information about North Somerset People First and the work they do, visit North Somerset People First’s website.