By Anthea Mustard, INCLUSION SOUTHMEAD.
Inclusion Southmead is all about learning about life from the perspective of a disabled person. Sometimes disabilities are clearly visible to everyone, other times disabilities are not so overtly visible, and these are harder to acknowledge for other people. Other disabilities have no permanently visible outward features such as Epilepsy, which only impacts when drugs do not control the Epilepsy effectively.
At the bottom of all disabilities, regardless of how they manifest, is a normal person who usually just needs a little extra help or assistance to do things.
Inclusion Southmead is a group working in Southmead for improvements to enable disabled residents to live their lives in a better way. We are currently working on two main projects. The first is to gain better access to McColl’s (newsagents and Post Office) in Arnside. Disabled people in wheelchairs are unable to get access to the shop due to the heavy doors and the displays of merchandise blocking doors. When it rains, disabled people are left sitting outside as their carers go in to the shop on their behalf; this is not acceptable. Inclusion has written twice to McColl’s asking for something to be done. So far, we have succeeded to get a bell fixed to the outside of the shop so that, theoretically, a disabled person can ring the bell and get someone to come and serve them. The bell is too high for a wheelchair user to reach. Us ‘Meaders’ should not tolerate seeing fellow ‘Meaders’ struggle with these issues, so Inclusion Southmead has decided to hold an Access 4 All Day (A4A) outside McColl’s on SATURDAY 21st APRIL, 11 am – 3 pm, where we will be asking passers-by to sign a petition to try and get access for all at this important shop in our community. I am certain that if people in Southmead were more aware of these issues they would not tolerate this unfair and demeaning treatment of disabled people.
Please give up some time on 21st April and add your signature to the petition and join in with the events and activities; we plan to make this a FUN event for all. We will be on the pavement on Arnside rain or shine, please join us!
The second project is to get access to Doncaster Park so that disabled people no longer have to wait outside whilst their children and grandchildren are playing inside. Despite the health and safety issues for the children being left to manage by themselves because the adult responsible for them can’t get in, imagine how you would feel if your child or grandchild wanted to play on the park equipment and you couldn’t get in to the park to join them?
Inclusion is in discussion with the Council and other parties about how to get this problem resolved. It has taken five years of hard work already, so we know it’s not going to be an easy one to solve, but we are already making headway to open up Doncaster Park so that all residents can enjoy this community space.