Who is Jas?
What a great question! Jas is a very outgoing person. I like to go out with friends and family. I like to eat out and I’m a social person. People call me a social butterfly (laughing) I am a very organised person. They do say Capricorn’s are very organised people (laughing) I like to meet deadlines! I’m also very bubbly too. I live with my mum, dad, my brother, sister-in-law and my 2 nephews aged 9 and 3.
What is your day job and other charities you are part of?
My day job is that I’m a Recruitment Officer for Shared Services (HR) for West Midlands Police. I’m involved in a lot of charities. I’m the Secretary of the West Midlands Police Sikh Association. I’m part of the Disability Carers Network, Women In Policing. Last but not least I’m also a unison rep. I like to help people.
Not many people know that in 2010 you were diagnosed with MS, Can you explain in your own words what that is for anyone who doesn’t know?
Multiple Sclerosis is a neurological condition it affects 100,000 people in the UK. It is a condition not many people are aware of. There are different parts of MS such as relapse remitting or progressive. The difference is that with relapse you can get a bit of a relapse but you can bounce back to normal. Progressive is you see the person get progressively worse.
What are the daily symptoms of having this condition?
MS can affect everybody differently. It can be eyesight loss, weakness in different parts of the body. Mobility issues getting around can be much harder.
How does MS affect your day-to-day routine?
It does affect my day-to-day routine; I have to think will a toilet be near to me, would I have to walk too much. Will there be stairs. I have to prepare for my day. Which I don’t think is bad but I have to deal with it. I have to mentally prepare in my mind what needs to be done. I do need help with mobility. I do need to sometimes hold on to someone’s arm now to walk around. But I am a very stubborn individual. People say there are mobility aids out there use them. But I don’t want to use mobility aids I don’t think I ever will. I know my own mind and I will continue to do what I need to do in my life. I want my own independence.
You are known to say sorry every time you ask for help in regards to your mobility and I know that as you have done this with me. Why do you feel like you have to apologise for something you can’t control?
For me saying sorry it’s a natural thing for me. I say sorry a lot. I can’t help that. I have good manners. I actually feel bad in myself as I could be walking and there is a queue at the back of me and I’m holding everyone up. I have to say sorry.
I remember you saying to me that MS robs us our abilities and independence, what did you mean by that?
It does. But I’m trying to change that for myself personally. I have seen a lot of people not been able to do certain things and going places due to MS. They can be scared of going places and scared what people may say. It is a hidden disability. It is quite bad. For me, I have to change that for myself. I don’t care what people think of me. Especially the Asian communities as I have come across a lot of ignorance towards this disability. As they see you are fine for one moment and then you get up and you struggle with your mobility you see the looks across the room. “Such as what’s wrong with her” or “why is she walking like that”. It can be difficult. But it’s something you have to deal with. People can be very judgemental. Yes, I had to hold your arm whilst walking from the taxi to the restaurant. I mean so what? Now I think this is me. Love me or hate me I don’t care anymore. This is who I am. I will live the way I will live. Just because I have a disability doesn’t mean I can’t do anything. Or judge my abilities. I have proved people wrong. For example my first aid course, a lot of people said to me you can do it. However, there were reasonable adjustments made so that I could do it. I’m proved to myself that I can do it. I passed.
I have been with you in certain places where you feel as you are being judged; do you feel this way on a regular basis?
Yes. I do feel people judge. But I feel that more with the Asian communities. Then the western community. They don’t look at you with judgement. They accept you for who you are. They want to help. If they see me struggle they run to help. That’s nice that people want to help me. There is a good side to everyone. That’s me as an individual. For example, going to my local Gurdwara to do my prayers and I used to go every morning. As my MS progressed and I was less stable on my legs. I felt when I was there especially the elderly community would look at you, frown at you and make you feel really uncomfortable. Now I don’t go as much as I would like. I shouldn’t be feeling this way. But it’s the way they have made me feel.
Has anyone said anything negative to you about having MS?
No, not directly. I get the looks. I am a very lucky person. I have a very supportive family. Very supportive friends. They haven’t stopped going out with me just because I have a disability. They help me and don’t go out without me. I’m very lucky. I have emotional intelligence and I know by looking at someone what they are thinking most times.
You are a strong woman and having MS hasn’t stopped you from getting promoted or even contributing to other charities, why do you think that is?
I am strong yes. I think I have a positive attitude. I won’t allow MS to rob my happiness and yes I do have a deteriorating condition. I wasn’t born with it. But I won’t allow it to affect me. This condition has made me change my way of thinking now and just try and be strong and positive.
As you stated there is a lot of ignorance from the Asian community in regards to your MS do you have any issues and pressure about settling down?
I am so lucky as I have a very supportive family who understands my condition. They say to me we don’t mind when it happens, if it happens or who it will be. However, when my disability was more manageable and less noticeable. I had a lot of people asking for my hand in marriage and asking questions about me and asking my age and when I would be ready for settling down. But I wasn’t interested at the time. My family never put any pressure on me. But as soon as people saw my MS deteriorate can you believe no one asked again. It shocks me. It’s the ignorance once again. But I don’t care. It just makes me a bit angry about the Asian Community there thought process. Just because I have MS doesn’t mean I can’t get married, or kids or have a career.
Who has supported you apart from your family?
Everyone that I know has supported me through my journey one way or the other. However, my special dedications go to my immediate family and friends that include my favourite people who have supported me through all my highs and lows both personally and professionally with their guidance and honesty. I feel that they have never judged me and are always there for me. Dean Sweet, Khizra Dhindsa, Harjinder Kaur, Suneeta Kaur Seera, Saran Heer and Kully Klair. Without their one to one support and guidance, my personal journey would have been very difficult. They are my friends for life and I am a very lucky girl to have them in my life.
You were nominated for the humans of West Midlands Police. Can you explain what that is for people who don’t know. Also how did you feel being on the wall of fame?
Yes, it was a privilege to be asked to participate for the Humans of West Midlands Police to celebrate the Black History Month. It was more for the public to see the faces that work for West Midlands Police along with their stories. It felt a privilege to be on the wall of fame and I felt very proud as I am very passionate about my job, department and the Force.
You help a lot with Unison as you are rep. Why did you become a rep, what does it mean for you?
I became a Unison Rep to support people. I noticed that people needed support in their employment and sometimes were unable to get representation when needed. I wanted to become a Unison ambassador for my current department and location so that people could see the activist and approach me to discuss problems before they went out of hand. I am a girl with strong ethics, principles and honesty. Therefore, can not see any wrongdoings and always wants to help people. I am even approached outside of work where strangers feel that they can approach me to speak and discuss any issues! I feel proud that I am able to help people to resolve any problems.
Also, you were a special constable before you found out you had MS. How and why did you want to do this? Was it always in your mind to join the police?
I’ve always wanted to join the Police Service and my inspiration came from watching my favourite TV programme ‘The Bill’. Although I now understand that it does not quite work like ‘The Bill’. I was a Special Constable for 7 years and enjoyed every moment being an Operational officer. It was unfortunate that I had to resign when I realised that I was no longer able to carry out the operational duties due to my mobility restrictions. But I still didn’t give up instead I adapted to do something new and became an Avon representative and to date still, carry out this role. They say if one door closes the other opens but you have to grab the opportunity with both hands.
People say you are an inspirational person as you let nothing get you down. How do you feel when some say this to you? I believe it to be true.
I’m not sure why a lot of people say that I am inspirational. I never understand why, to be honest, I just try to lead my life normal to everybody else. The only thing is that my attitude is that I will never give up. If I fall 4 times I will get up 8 although yes, it does make me shed tears for a short while due to the daily challenges that I have I have to get up and try to lead a normal life just like everyone else. It does make me feel proud of myself as I try not let people down and people say I am always smiling.
You stood up recently at our Police Event and talked about your journey in having this condition and you had amazing feedback. How did you feel delivering your speech?
This wasn’t the first speech I had delivered. However, the number of people I had to deliver to this time was 200 people which was a large audience. I was nervous. But as soon as I started talking as I was talking from my heart it came naturally. I felt confident in delivering it. I remember looking up and everyone was looking at me and it was dead silent and in my mind, I thought oh god I hope I’m not boring them (laughing) which was a natural reaction. (laughing)
After I delivered it I had such positive feedback I felt like I was a celebrity and people were sharing their conditions with me. I felt like my speech went so well. Other people were talking about their family’s condition as well. Overall it went really well. The main thing that people were shocked about was my attitude towards MS and how I deal with it face on. It made realise how it can help to talk about it.
You are training our Assistant Chief Constable in regards to disabilities how did that happen?
I got selected by management to start a course on reverse mentoring this Jan 2017. I was determined to do it. I did the course and then you get matched with a person. I was extremely lucky to be matched with who I have. I have educated him on disability and also the Sikh culture. I’m actually learning a lot from him too.
You have a word press called Sikhswithms, how did that start and why did you want to set this up?
The reason I started my blog was that there is a lot of ignorance around MS but not only MS other disabilities. It was to reach out to other people who are suffering from this disability. I wanted to raise awareness not just for the Sikh community but for anyone. For people to remain positive. Looking at the thing’s in a different way and I wanted to inspire people.
I believe we need to raise more awareness in regards to MS so people are aware. I mean we talk of other disabilities but not much on MS do you agree?
Yes, I totally agree. MS is known but it is not really talked about and it’s that ignorant factor again. We need to raise more awareness, especially in the Asian community.
Do you feel that you get treated differently by having MS?
Yes, I do. I am going to put a positive spin on it instead. (laughing) Like today I booked a table I had to tell them of my disability and they had to make reasonable adjustments for me. I struggle with my mobility now. Even if you have a disability you can still do it and still go places!
What advice would you give someone who is going through the same as you in regards to having MS?
I say one thing, Don’t give up. I get frustrated when I can’t do something and it takes me longer. But we have to stay positive and do things in your own time. Don’t let other peoples judgement upset you. Sometimes I go to my room and lock the door and have a cry. Then carry on. Just don’t give up. As long as you get up again that’s the main thing. But having humour can help also.
Do you have any uplifting words you want to say in regards to yourself and journey?
Life is a struggle, never give up. That’s all I can say. There will be good and bad times.
Jas Kaur is one of my closest friends. So writing this blog about her journey and herself was very important to me. If anyone knows Jas she is one of the kindest and funniest people. No matter what gets her down she gets up and carries on. I have known Jas for a while now and there isn’t a dull moment with her. The positive attitude she carries inspires me and makes me so proud to have a friend like her. Not many know about MS and this was one of the reasons I wanted to write a blog with her. It is her first ever blog where she disclosed her own personal issues and I am so happy she decided to write it with me.
Please show love and support for Jas.