Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A time of good will…


It’s Christmas Eve and only today have I started to feel properly festive. Normally I get excited when December 1st arrives but this year it feels different. I don’t know if it’s because I am not a kid (although I haven’t been one for a few years now) but I’m no longer desperate to open my presents. I’m actually more looking forward to seeing people’s reactions when they open what I’ve brought. Although I’m not Christian so probably shouldn’t even be celebrating this holy festival, I’ve grown to realise that Christmas is not about getting the latest games console but instead it’s about generosity and everyone being…for want of a better word…nice.

I’ve got two very recent examples to illustrate that Christmas truly is a time of good will to all men and women including ‘Wheelchair Boy’. The first story involves my problematic night when I went to see the Oxford Street Xmas lights being turned on back in November (read the post if you don’t know what happened: http://theadventuresofwheelchairboy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/the-battle-of-oxford-street.html). As I said, I wasn’t confidant that my strongly worded complaint would get read let alone get a response so I was pleasantly surprised when I did receive a reply a few weeks later. However, it seemed quite standard with phrases like “we will look into it” and I therefore wasn’t too satisfied. Until I read that were offering me a gesture of goodwill in the form of £100 in John Lewis vouchers. Result or what?

The second bit of goodwill came last night. I’ve got a beard again but it was slightly overgrown so I decided to have a little trim for Christmas. I wasn’t sure where to go and by chance, ended up in FnS barbers on Verulam Road. He done a lovely job and even though I feel out of place amongst the butch men who love a good old drink after a hard day at work, I’ll definitely go back in the New Year. Even more so as I didn’t have to pay because I think the owner was in a very Christmassy mood. See, people can be nice.

Before I go to dream of Santa, ‘Wheelchair Boy’ would like to wish all of my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you all in 2015 where hopefully I’ll be able to blog on a regular basis (can’t promise anything because of other commitments but I’ll try to fit a few posts in). I’ll also be 21 by then so my writing will be more mature because of the added experience.

By the way, if you want to see a Pantomime, my brother is PC Pong in Aladdin in Stevenage. I thought I’d mention it because without sounding soft, I’m immensely proud of him as he is a great actor and finally the world (or at least Stevenage) can see that. I’ve already seen it twice and I definitely recommend it. Apologies if that last paragraph is cringeworthy and pretty random.

Bye for now!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Nothing new…

You might have seen/read in the news that a recent government funded report found that a number of high street shops and restaurants are not disabled friendly. Most people seemed to be appalled by the revelation but I am more dumbfounded that the findings shock the reporters as well as those in high office. It really is nothing new that access to certain places is poor and that businesses do not seem to care about disabled customers.

The Department for Work and Pensions asked my friends over at DisabledGo to run the audit on the government’s behalf. A group of researchers were sent to visit and assess 27,000 high street shops and 3,716 restaurants. Taheir findings were published last week (hence the media interest) but none of what was fed back surprised me. Some of the standout headlines from the report were:
·      One in five high street stores has no disabled access
·     A third of department stores do not have an accessible toilet.
·      Only 15% of retailers have hearing loops for the partially deaf.
·      Two in five food outlets have no accessible toilet,
·      23% of restaurants have menus in large print for the visually impaired and only 9% have hearing loops.

An issue that I have is people who do not know first hand how problematic something as simple as shopping can be for a disabled person overlook issues such as accessibility. They wrongly believe that legislation such as the Equality Act of 2010 are in place to stop discrimination but the report demonstrates that businesses flaunt this piece of law all the time. It obliges organisations to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people but they clearly don’t. It’s like saying because it is illegal to be racist, racism does not exist. However, we all know what is written in law differs greatly to reality.

The Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper responded to the findings by‘Calling on the retail and hospitality industry to look at what more they can do to better cater for disabled people’ but I’m not sure they’re bothered if Mr. Harper tells them off. I think the rules should be tougher such as on the spot fines if premises have one step but no portable ramp. That’s the only way businesses will listen and act. They obviously don’t care that there are roughly 12 million disabled people in Britain with an estimated spending power of £200bn so therefore penalties are needed.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Imparables…

That’s Spanish for ‘Unstoppables’ for anyone who doesn’t know (you learn something new every time you read this blog) and is the title of a new documentary film I went to see in London nine days ago. I received an E-Mail a couple of weeks back inviting me to an exclusive screening at the Royal College of Physicians near Regents Park.  I wasn’t too sure if I could make it at first as I had tickets to see Take Me Out being recorded but after reading what the film was about, it became clear that I should ditch Paddy McGuiness in favour of the premiere. There’s always next series.

The fly on the wall documentary looks at the "Pirates Team", a group of cyclists from Barcelona who are quite unique in that both disabled and able-bodied athletes train together. Some members have simply taken up cycling to get fit, others just enjoy the sport but a few aspire to be the best at a Professional level and win an Olympic Gold medal. The spotlight is shone on two athletes in particular, Juanjo Medez and Raquel Acinas, who became paralyzed following traffic accidents (both happened entirely separately). The story shows the lead up to the 2012 Paralympics, what happened in London and then the events after when they got home.

In the subplot, secondary characters are explored such as Elisa, who got on a bike for the first time just before filming began after having lost one lef several years ago. She was actually inspired that anything is possible even if you are missing limbs when Juanjo cycled past one day. After looking into the possibilities, she joined the "Pirates Team" and within nine months of training, finished one tenth of a second short of winning bronze at the Spanish Cycling Championships. 

If you would like further information on the documentary or fancy watching some bite size movies, please go to the website:

http://imparablesdocumental.com/eng/

The full film is not available until February (on DVD or VOD). It’s definitely worth watching though and will motivate anyone out there who can cycle but just can’t be bothered to get on their bike. It’s just a shame that there has been no TV or media interest but I guess that’s typical. Whatever happened to the Olympic legacy?Bye for now!

Bye for now!