‘Inclusion Southmead’ is the new name for what used to be called the ‘Disability Navigation Group’ (bit of a mouthful!). All of the residents at the last meeting agreed on this name. We want everybody in Southmead to be treated as equal and we don’t like people being labelled as this or that.
We feel that sometimes people with a disability have to ‘prove it’ – their word is not enough. Well guess what, there are many people with a disability in this world, but you cannot always see it. This makes their lives even more challenging and crushes their confidence; perhaps, because they are not in a wheelchair (stereo-types), people assume that there is nothing wrong with them. How does anyone know what has happened in other peoples’ lives? Or, indeed, what health problems that person has.
We are going to challenge everyone to think differently and we have already done this because our group is inclusive and contains disabled and non-disabled residents. This is fundamental because setting up a group for just disabled people isolates them even more. We want all groups and organisations in Southmead to actively encourage disabled residents to join them, and to consider access so no-one is put off.
We will be tackling two major access issues in Southmead. The first is both Badock’s Wood and Doncaster Road Park. It seems incredible to me that residents with mobility scooters cannot get in to these areas, and have never even seen the new play equipment in Doncaster Road Park which is only a few years old; were any disabled residents consulted because sadly there are no swings for them. Other parks have them. Does this mean that our disabled children do not want to play?
When we think about our community we need to have inclusion at the top of our list. When you have grandmothers sat outside the park on their mobility scooter with their grandchildren inside playing on new equipment that they will never see, how is that inclusive?
Secondly we are also going to tackle the issue of access to possibly one of the most important facilities in Southmead – the Post Office at Arnside. The double doors are always locked and have produce on shelves in front of them. If you want to go in, you have to wait at the single-door entrance and ask someone to open the double doors for you. How are you supposed to ask for help if you cannot get into the building in the first place? This is embarrassing because everybody wants to be able to access a building without always having to ask for help as this makes them feel different and is not empowering at all. The Post Office should have accessibility as their main focus and surely it would not be too difficult to install doors that open like the Library, Aldi, Tesco’s etc.
We will be joined by a lady at our next meeting who can help us spread the word about Inclusion Southmead and possibly give us some kind of tag line for the group. It has taken a while to establish our group and to find a voice, but we are really getting somewhere.
If you believe in Inclusion and getting rid of labels then please come along to our next meeting, everyone is welcome: Tuesday 7th November, Southmead Commmunity Centre, 10.30 am – 12.00 pm. For further info email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 07790 426 609