Hello there - My name is Theo Blackmore, and this site was my idea. I'm not linked in with any group or organisation, it's basically me and the tech genius that is Nick Harpley.
I entered the disability world in 1993 when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I was living in Barecelona at the time, where I was Teaching English as a Foreign Language. As soon as I was diagnosed I came back to Cornwall in the UK where I was born and brought up.
In 1995 I created two voluntary sector disability groups in Cornwall as a volunteer myself. These organisations provided information and advice for disabled people about a range of things, including welfare, social care, housing, and anything else you can think of. We created a telephone information and advice line, and the discover magazine. These 2 organisations have since merged and become Disability Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
I then spent the next seven years working - for 2 national disability organisations (RADAR - the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation, and the MS Society), and for Cornwall Social Services - before taking time out to study for a Masters degree and then a PhD in Disability Studies at Exeter University. I graduated in 2008.
In the middle of my research I had the idea for matchinghouses.com. It seemed such a simple yet effective solution to the problem of finding accessible accommodation for disabled people. My wife and I had experienced a couple of dreadful holidays where the travel agent had assured us that the accommodation was 'fully accessible', when we arrived to find I couldn't even get into the bedroom! I couldn't believesomething like matchinghouses.com didn't already exist. The other house swap websites that existed didn't seem to cater for disabled people in any coherent way - where they did talk about 'access' it was in relation to how close they were to town or city centres, or transport links, not about disability access.
Since 2008 I have worked for a UK national Disabled People's Organisation (UKDPC) before returning to work in Cornwall for Disability Cornwall. My last project was a video project, looking at Cornwall's Disability History, which you can see here -
I now work freelance on a range of projects, and have created some time and space to relaunch matchinghouses.com. The new site was designed and built by Nick Harpley, and I hope you like its clarity and ease of use.