ACCESS DAY EVENT A GREAT SUCCESS
(Disabled Access Day should be everyday)
The first ever Disabled Access Day to be held in Eastbourne on March 16th, proved to be a success beyond the expectations of the organisers. Disabled people came with their families, carers and friends to learn what is on offer to them and how inclusive Eastbourne really is. Retailers in the Beacon and other service providers welcomed the influx of new faces with open arms and ensured the day was a fun filled and informative experience with a powerful message of welcome to everyone.
The concept of Disabled Access Day began four years ago in Glasgow when Paul Ralph, a powerchair user, went on a ‘Try It Out Day’ with a local bus company. Held in January 2015, the First Disabled Access Day was so popular it was decided to expand nationwide with an event every two years. 2017 saw Sussex’s involvement when Brighton and Hove staged events including free bus rides for disabled people who thought bus travel was too difficult for them. This year Eastbourne joined in as the national event sponsored by Euan’s Guide, a guide to accessible places around Britain, grew even bigger and better.
The Eastbourne celebration was very well supported, not least by The Beacon who generously hosted the event and many positive feedback comments from all quarters have been received. Already the question is being asked “What next?” This thought has already passed through the minds of the local organisers but it is too big an undertaking for this year’s organising group to repeat and potentially expand on. Because Disabled Access Day is a biennial event that does suggest a long lead-in period is possible but if we reflect on the purpose of the day which is to encourage disabled people and their families, friends and carers to try something new, why is it only one day every two years? Giving disabled people the confidence to explore new places in welcoming settings and highlighting accessible venues across the UK should be an everyday occurrence and we should all strive to make every day a Disabled Access Day. To educate the wider public on the access issues faced by disabled people is essential if true equality and inclusion for all is to be achieved. Disability is an all-day everyday experience for so many in our community that it would be wrong to recognise it only once every two years.
Having demonstrated the enthusiasm for the theme of ‘Go Somewhere New’ and ‘Try Something Different’ we must raise awareness of the importance of disabled access and give venues an opportunity to showcase the services and facilities they provide to disabled people and reflect on how they can improve. We have made a start in Eastbourne and now we are on the map as a town that embraces disability, let’s keep it this way. Make everyday a Disabled Access Day in Eastbourne. New volunteers are always welcome and if you would like to see more Disabled Access Days in Eastbourne and wouldlike to help, please contact the Eastbourne Access Group on 0781 0317 185 or visit our website www.eastbourneaccessgroup.org.uk. Visit our Facebook page and join us in our quest to make Eastbourne Britain’s premiere resort for equality and inclusion.
Written by Ian Westgate
#EBAccess #AccessDay #YouAndSomewhereNew