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Arunima's Story

To mark our 30th anniversary, we’re releasing 30 stories from wheelchair users across our history.

This ambitious and historic project will result in stories being archived as part of the The British Library Sound Archives ensuring that the life experiences of wheelchair users today are captured forever. With thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and The British Library for their support.


Arunima, now a City lawyer, describes how she’s navigated life as a wheelchair user since she was diagnosed with nerve cancer in her spine, and given just a few weeks to live.

Her brilliant, personal journey takes us from the comforting environment of her home, through some grey days of bullying at school, then the fun-filled years at Cambridge University; a period of life which really kick-started her journey to find true independence.

After University, Arunima plunged head-first into life in London, where she navigated new challenges in terms of living alone, demanding, high-paced jobs, transport and accessibility.

She now advocates for inclusivity and equal opportunities in employment for disabled people.

Arunima explains the freedom she began to feel with her first Whizz-Kidz powerchair and how it allowed her to feel more empowered and confident to speak out about injustices.

From dating to the world of work and collaborating with the Barbie brand, listen to how Arunima is working hard to change mindsets, ensuring wheelchair users no longer remain the “ignored minority”.

Arunima travels down the street in her powered wheelchair


On family - Listen to a clip here

“My parents never made me feel as if I was incapable in any way…

"In Disney, Dumbo has got his black feather and he thinks he needs his black feather to fly but he can do it by himself and for me my parents will always be my Dumbo’s feather.”

On university life - Listen to a clip here

“The Fellows apparently weren’t too keen on me coming because it meant a few renovations to the grounds of the college; they had to build a few extra ramps and things like that…

"I wasn’t dorming with the other First Years, I was put in an accessible house so I had to be in that room.

“I was the Student Union Officer for Students with Disabilities so I went round colleges talking to disabled students finding out what their problems were, what their worries were, what access issues they were having and what personal issues they were having…

"A lot more of the colleges are now modernising the grounds and…making them more accessible. So yeah I did my bit.”

“It’s scary but you’ve got to do it. Because you will find out your strengths…And you’ll have fun!

"You need to have that period in your life when no-one’s watching you and you can do silly things and get up to mischief.”

Arunima smiles at the camera while posing in front of St Paul's Cathedral


On independence and freedom - Listen to a clip here

“All of my mates used to go out every Thursday and every Friday…and I couldn’t go because I didn’t have that mobility.

"It was getting to that point where pushing myself in the manual wheelchair was just too knackering and I was always relying on my friends to push me about and if they weren’t available then one of the teachers or one of the helpers.

"And teenage years should be about developing where you choose where you want to go out and who you want to see. You have those opportunities to make friends.

"I couldn’t even post a letter myself or go to the shops and get a chocolate bar, nothing like that…

"My Dad contacted Whizz-Kidz…within a few months someone came round, fitted me for my chair was totally perfect for my needs... It was completely life-changing.

"The impact it had on my family’s life and my life was unprecedented.

"Overnight I found a way of driving myself around, going from A to B…”


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