Scouse Bird Problems – Interview: Jameela Jamil on fighting stigmas

Posted On: 19/04/2015

By: Zoe Delaney

The owner of the fabbest fringe in showbiz ™, Jameela Jamil may have left Radio One to have a bit of a gap year, but she’s not exactly just swanned off to Australia to ‘find herself’ or down buckets at Full Moon parties in Thailand. The former T4 presenter has added ‘Kick Ass Campaigner’ to her CV with her latest project, “Why Not People?”

The social enterprise aims to create incredible events for people with disabilities and stamp out the stigma attached to living with a disability. Why Not People? ignores the notion of limits and discrimination and caters to all people from all walks of life. With accessible venues and the finest talent on the planet, they promise to put on gigs, events and club nights you’ll never forget.

As a teenager, Jameela was hit by a car and spent a year badly debilitated; unable to enjoy going out with her friends or even use public transport. However, it’s not solely her own experiences that motivated her to found Why Not People?

“Two years ago I was talking with my best friend of 2 years Charlie, who has cerebral palsy. We were talking about how there is nowhere for him to go out and meet people; to have fun and socialise like everyone else. Our social experiences growing up were so different and it was purely down to him having a disability – we’re the same person so it’s not fair. I said I’d try and help him in some way which when I realised there was nothing out there; nowhere for someone with disabilities to go and be treated as an equal – not as a burden or a fire hazard. So I thought, “Fuck it, I’m going to create on myself.”

Membership opened back in March and with an impressive contacts book, Jameela has been able to get the likes of Tinie Tempah, Mark Ronson, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay on board – with Tinie Tempah headlining the first gig next month.

“The plan is to have an event every few months and scatter them across London and the UK, depending on where the artist is going to be. We’re going to try and fill up a whole load of them at the Indegio at the 02 because the access is really good there. We’re able to import a load of disabled access porto-loos which is very important. This is just the beginning then, hopefully, we’ll get our own festival space.”

“When I’m DJing and looking at a crowd of 6000 people, and not one of them has physical disability, I just imagine if it I were to play to an all Caucasian crowd? That just wouldn’t happen.  It’s ridiculous. It’s not an accurate representation of our society where 11.8 million people in the UK live with a disability and have an 80 billion pound spending power. These businesses shouldn’t even consider it charity; they should just do it for business reasons. How many clubs etc do we see closing down and you think, “If you made it accessible then you’d make so much money as there are millions of people who just want a night off and shake off the week like everyone else. “

It’s important to note that while Why Not People? may need donations (DONATE HERE – subtle hint, guys), this is NOT a charity. Instead, it acts a social enterprise – a business where society profits.

 “We don’t make a profit really, but charity is sometimes the last thing people with disabilities want. That’s how I felt anyway; we don’t want charity or pity – we just want to a normal night that’s safe and fair.

We want it to be an example to other companies; to prove that people do buy tickets, they do come out, and big artists will come and perform.

Eventually, what I’d like to happen is that in 10 years’ time so many people do this that my company doesn’t need to exist as there’s too much competition. That would make me so happy.”

Find out more about Why Not People? via any of the links below:



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