When ENABLE Scotland member Peter McMahon experienced bullying on a Glasgow bus, he decided to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Although the incident affected him very badly at first, Peter realised that he needed to speak out not only about the bullying he experienced but the experiences of other people who have learning disabilities.
“That day on the bus, nobody came to my aid. The whole bus was full but nobody helped me. After that day I closed myself off and didn’t leave home for a month. But then I realised I needed to do something,” said Peter.
It was when he saw a poster at the bridge group in Easterhouse promoting Diversity Films’ film school. It prompted Peter to embark on making a film about bullying.
With the help of people from B.R.A.C.E – a club for adults who have learning disabilities – Peter got his project off the ground.
“I asked the committee at the B.R.A.C.E club if I could bring a film crew into the club. The committee were all happy about it. So I went round and interviewed folk. A lot of them opened their hearts to me. Some of the stories were horrendous. Mine was mild compared to them,” said Peter.
He called his film ‘My Life’ and it premiered at the bridge group in 2009. Following the success of his first film, Peter made a second one named ‘My Life 2’ and it was screened at the Scottish Parliament in 2010. It also won high praise at the Mental Health Arts and Film Festival in October 2011. Peter feels it is important people understand how badly bullying can affect someone and he wants to improve things for the next generation.
To that end he completed film three inENABLE Scotland’s 60th anniversary year, and his film work is now used as a training tool by the First Group.
“I’d like to try and make things better. There needs to be more education, which is why I am pleased my films are being used as an educational tool,” said Peter.
A lifelong member of the Glasgow ENABLE branch, Peter goes a long to their AGM every year and appreciates the support not only from his local branch but also the national organisation.
“The Glasgow branch was a great support when I made part two of the film. I feel ENABLE Scotland and ENABLE Glasgow are just a big happy family. Everybody’s got a smile for everybody.”
It was at an AGM that Peter met another Peter; CEO of ENABLE Scotland Peter Scott.
“Peter is really a great support. I only met him by accident when I was at the ENABLE Glasgow AGM and I was introduced to him. Peter to me is not just the ENABLE Scotland Chief Executive, he’s a friend too.”
Peter leads an active life and works four and a half days a week at the Silver Birch (Scotland) Ltd garden centre. He’s been there for over 10 years and helps run the sales area and keep everything looking neat and tidy. He also attends a local writers group and likes to go swimming when he gets the chance.
In the future Peter would like to be involved with more campaigns and projects which help raise awareness about bullying and possibly make more films, including one with Glasgow City Council.
But for Peter, the most important aspect of his work is helping other people.
“It makes me feel great when I go home knowing that I’ve done something good for people,” he said.