No matter what your age, if you suffer with a mobility problem gaining access to places is sometimes problematic.
Back in February this year a pensioner who suffered with Rheumatoid Arthritis was told to get a taxi by rail staff. To clarify, the 74 year old was trying to get back from London to Herne Bay in Kent. Ann Nicholson was advised to travel to Whitstable and then get a taxi as Herne Bay station has no disabled access.
The station is accessed by steps, many steps! Apparently a request was put in two years ago to help provide access for those who couldn’t manage steps. A spokesman for rail company Southeastern explained, “The company will be putting Herne Bay station forward for consideration for funding. Major works – providing lifts etc – rests with Network Rail who own the stations some of which are over 150 years old. Many are inaccessible to those in a wheelchair.
“We will arrange for our staff to be available at any station where assistance is needed. If a taxi is required, then we will pay for and arrange this transport for our customers.”
Let’s hope Southeastern heed the request.
Gigs and Festivals Access
In June a study was published which showed that those using wheelchairs and trying to book tickets for gigs or festivals on the phone often waited inexcusably long times on premium rate numbers. The reason? Their disability has to be verified.
Then when they get to the gig, they usually can’t ‘sit’ with their mates. It’s just like it was for both the Olympics and the Paralympics last year. Those in wheelchairs were sat in different parts of the arena/court etc.
This often leads to a feeling of isolation at these events and is definitely one of segregation.
The study also identified that sometimes disabled guests in the audience were asked to leave before the end of a show to avoid any disruption. And often once inside venues access to refreshments and toilets is difficult because of the crowds.
Trailblazers a campaign group set up by muscular dystrophy suffers carried out the study and have a group of 500 disabled campaigners trying to get changes put into place.
One festival where there should be no problems like this is Disability Rocks which took place in Yorkshire in June. It’s access all areas at this annual event.
At a branch of the Danske Bank in Northern Ireland a disabled man had to make his transactions in the street. When he finally attracted the attention of staff at the Maghera Branch, they explained there was no disabled access. He agreed to make the important transaction in the street with one member serving him and another holding an umbrella over him!
The man, Michael Holden has since reported the incident to the Equality Commission. The staff members said they had previously complained about the lack of disabled access to the bank’s HQ.
A disability does not make people second class subjects and we know that these circumstances are often due to lack of funds. However some alternative means of access need to be addressed to reduce the sense of no self worth that this treatment can encourage.
Although last year’s Paralympics has left a positive attitude towards those with disabilities, there are still too many obstacles. Does a local shop have awkward access for you or someone you know who is elderly or disabled? Has it been reported? Is the business owner aware of the Disability Discrimination Act?