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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Mind your language! Award nominee Chloe takes The Sun to task over disabled reporting

A Catholic student chosen by a reality TV star as her ‘Unsung Hero’ has challenged The Sun newspaper on how it reports on people with disabilities, after she was nominated for the newspaper’s ‘Who Cares Wins’ health awards.

Chloe Tear, a 20-year-old psychology and child development student at Leeds Trinity University, is an active disability blogger who writes about her experiences of mild Cerebral Palsy, chronic pain and visual cortex disorder.

She was nominated for the ‘Unsung Hero’ award by I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! winner Vicky Pattison, but when The Sun published an article revealing her nomination last weekend, Ms Tear was disappointed at the language used.

“It’s amazing to have been nominated for The Sun’s Unsung Hero Award! It was an incredible experience to meet Vicky Pattison, she really is so lovely.

“But if The Sun is wanting to be more positive and celebrate the NHS and volunteers they really need to sort out their wording!” Ms Tear, who is also the Leeds Trinity Students’ Union Disabilities Officer, said.

In The Sun, her description led on her being a ‘cerebral palsy sufferer’. “First of all, ‘cerebral palsy suffer’ totally goes against what I want to promote, and second, they described me as ‘living with a handicap’. What’s wrong with the word disability?

“In the UK, the word handicap is very outdated and I’m amazed it has been included.

“It basically suggests that we’re not capable of anything and must beg for money to survive.”

Since The Sun published Ms Tear’s article on Saturday, the phrase ‘living with a handicap’ has now been removed, but, as of writing, Ms Tear had not received an apology or response from the newspaper.

“I am very thankful for the nomination and I know The Sun means well,” she said. “But it would just go completely against the work I do if I was to sit back and not question these wording choices.

“I think it is great that The Sun has these health awards as I’m sure it will recognise worthy people. I was astonished to be recognised at this level and it is something that I am very proud of.

“I hope the nomination raises awareness around the importance of disability awareness.”

Ms Tear has been raising disability awareness since she was 15, and has worked with organisations such as the RNIB, Scope and CP Teens UK; a charity that supports young people with cerebral palsy.

She has also been interviewed on the BBC Breakfast sofa and regularly features in the media.

Vicky Pattison called her ‘her champion’ after hearing at first-hand of her determination to help other disabled people live full lives.

Professor Margaret A House OBE, Vice-Chancellor at Leeds Trinity University, said: “We are delighted that Chloe’s work and campaigning has been recognised.

“She is passionate and determined to make a difference for people who are living with a disability, and challenging The Sun on its use of language emphasises her determination to stand up for what she believes in.”

The Sun’s ‘Who Cares Wins’ health awards were launched in July 2018 to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS. The winners will be announced at a ceremony hosted by Lorraine Kelly on Monday, 8th October.

Picture: Leeds Trinity student Chloe Tear. (Leeds Trinity University).