Young champion fundraiser Louis Johnson has been named as one of Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity’s Hundred Heroes.

Twelve-year-old Louis has so far raised more than £6,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital in support of children being cared for at the hospital.

Louis, who lives in Tettenhall Wood, said he was really excited to learn he had been named as one of the charity’s Hundred Heroes – which recognises individuals who support the charity.

Louis, who is a pupil at Smestow School, said: “I was really excited and happy to learn that I have been told I am one of Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity’s Hundred Heroes. I was completely over the moon.

“I have raised more than £6,000 for the charity now and so far have raised £600 for them through my upcoming walk.”

Serena Daw, public fundraising manager at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, added: “We are thrilled to announce Louis as one of our Hundred Heroes. These awards are an opportunity for us to celebrate and thank our supporters for their extraordinary efforts over the past year, and Louis is fully deserving of this recognition.

“To date, Louis has raised over £6,000 for us and has been so passionate about supporting our sick kids. From tea parties to charity walks, he is always looking at new ways to fundraise. He truly is a hero – well done Louis.”

On Saturday Louis will be walking 15 miles in a fancy dress costume to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, from Tettenhall, in a bid to raise more funds for the charity. When he reaches the hospital, he will give teddy bears and colouring books to the young patients.

He will then return to Wolverhampton by train before collecting money in the city centre’s Queen Square.

In eight years of fundraising, since he was five years old, Louis has raised nearly £20,000 for a variety of local charities.

Louis has also been nominated for a Positive Role Model Award at the 2019 National Diversity Awards!

 

Source – www . Express and Star . com

Liverpool’s 2-1 Premier League Top of the table win against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday was dedicated to the work of Kick It Out as the organisation marks its 25th anniversary this season.

For the past two-and-a-half decades, Kick It Out has been at the heart of the drive towards equality, inclusion and cohesion for everyone who plays, watches or works in football.

Formed as ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football’ in 1993, the organisation – which works alongside partners including The FA, the Premier League, the English Football League, the Professional Footballers’ Association, the League Managers Association and the Football Supporters’ Federation – continues to fight all forms of discrimination in the game.

Kick It Out provides a clear, independent voice within the game to challenge discrimination and exclusion, as well as education for professional players, clubs, fans and grassroots organisations.

It also offers mentoring and guidance to help underrepresented groups participate in football and secure opportunities to develop a career in the game, and has established an equality framework for professional clubs to support the development of equality practices and policies and enabled more effective reporting and investigating of complaints of discriminatory abuse through its pioneering app.

The campaign for equality continues throughout the 2018-19 season and beyond, challenging discrimination and playing a part in shaping a fair and inclusive future for everyone who loves football.

“For all those at the game today who work for and represent Kick It Out, be it as full-time staff or volunteers, we are all incredibly grateful for the work you do in trying to make football better for everyone.

“When we wear the T-shirts, see the slogans on the LEDs and hear the public-address system announcements it’s important to remember this is just a small part of it and the effort we have made collectively must be constant.

“We all have a part to play and it’s important we do so.” – Jordan Henderson, Liverpool Captain.

Kick it out won the Community Organisation Award for Race at the 2018 National Diversity Awards in Liverpool!

Source – www . Liverpool Football Club . com

This year is the 10th anniversary of the Autism Act. This was a landmark in the battle to improve the lives of autistic adults and their families in England. In this blog, Arran Linton-Smith writes about his late diagnosis and the importance of preparing the next generation of autistic people for life and work.

I’m 63 now. But it’s only been in the last few years, following my diagnosis, that I’ve felt accepted and appreciated for who I am – particularly in the workplace.

I feel it’s now my duty to try to improve things for the next generation of autistic people – so that they don’t have to go through the years of confusion and uncertainty I and other autistic adults endured, and to make sure society and employers can benefit from their skills, tenacity and different way of viewing the world.

The Government’s upcoming review of the impact of the Autism Act is an opportunity to make this happen. That’s why I’m working with the National Autistic Society and a group of interested MPs and Lords – the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism – to find out more about the current state of care and support for autistic children and adults – and what needs to change.

Take this survey and tell the Government what they need to improve.

What the Autism Act means to me

We wouldn’t be where we are today without the Autism Act. It gave autism a national profile across England and has had a huge impact of autism awareness, making sure that all local authorities and NHS bodies at least consider autism for the first time. But the Act hasn’t been implemented as well as it should – just look at how long some people are having to wait for a diagnosis and the autism employment gap.

When the Act came into force ten years ago, I had no idea I was autistic. I always knew I was different but, like many of my autistic colleagues, I struggled at school and left without any basic qualifications. I was lucky to get employment soon after but my career has been very bumpy – I’ve lost jobs, been made redundant and have had to re-invent myself many times – including qualifying as a nurse, working on exciting construction projects on Ascension, the Falklands. And I even worked in Dr Who’s Tardis!

I thought that I could always interact with my colleagues but I struggled with the banter and often ended up being the butt of jokes. None of us understood that my brain simply works differently.

When everything changed

My turning point was my diagnosis in 2012. Initially, I really struggled to comprehend and accept this news. Everything was suddenly different. I had to completely re-evaluate who I was, how I was and what I was.

But the worst thing was that I wasn’t given any help at all – or even prepared for this period of soul-searching. I was given the diagnosis and then left, which meant I had to completely rebuild myself on my own. I sought out help from the National Autistic Society’s helpline and eventually sought out counselling from a friend who greatly helped me.

When I eventually did come to terms with my diagnosis I decided to firmly take ownership of it and become openly autistic. For me it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
Although I was firmly advised against doing this by my own family, I eventually decided to disclose my autism at work. To my surprise everyone was so understanding and people started to realise that my different way of seeing things was a huge asset − I was able to spot problems and come up with solutions that weren’t even being considered. My team listened, we made some small adjustments, like excusing me from attending after-work functions which I found incredibly stressful. And together we were able to work even more successfully.

While I’m now in a good position and feel highly respected for who I am, what I am and the way I think, I know that many autistic people aren’t so lucky − they’re struggling to find work or to stay in work. There’s so much wasted talent.

What needs to change

There needs to be a fundamental shift in how our society views autism and autistic people – particularly from the government and decision makers. We should be embracing autistic people, seeing the huge contribution they can make to our society and workplaces, and committing to helping them to get there. This should be the aim of all autism strategies and it’s important to keep this end goal in sight when working to address the key barriers faced by autistic people:

long waits for diagnosis
lack of post-diagnostic support and advice
not enough understanding and support in schools and workplaces.
If we address these issues, we can help autistic people to take ownership of their autism and get support at as young an age as possible, so they can grow up knowing who they are and understanding their strengths and weaknesses too. Only in this way, can we help prepare them for life and work properly, equipping them with the resilience and skills they need to excel in this largely neurotypical world.

This is a two-way-process and means closing the neurotypical/autism employment gap – fostering understanding between autistic people and neurotypical people. This starts at school but continues at every stage of adult life, including setting up work experience for autistic students while they’re still in school and reducing the reliance on recruitment through the old fashioned job interview, which puts many autistic people at an instant disadvantage.

Any autism strategy, whether from the Government, NHS or local authorities, must recognise that each autistic person is different. We must get to know autistic people as individuals, rather than simply by their condition.
The Government’s upcoming review is a good opportunity to start making these changes, particularly as they’ve committed to extending the autism strategy to children for the first time.

I’ve seen first-hand the vast untapped potential of autistic people. I’m 63 now and want to make sure I spend my time doing all I can to help unleash this potential.

Further information and how you can get involved

We, at the National Autistic Society, are marking the 10th anniversary of the Autism Act throughout 2019 and campaigning to make sure the Government improves support for autistic children and adults.

Source – www . autism . org . uk

At the age of 20 I was diagnosed with ADHD. After a lifetime of zoning out at inappropriate times, losing purses and keys three times a week and trying to do twenty things at any one time (and ultimately finishing none of them) I finally had an explanation for why my brain works the way it does.

It is believed that 1.5 million adults have ADHD in the UK, although only 120,000 have been formally diagnosed, this is relatively unsurprising for a number of reasons.

ADHD is often framed as a childhood disorder. It affects school children who are loud, and boisterous is a narrative that is too often presented, leading people, myself included, to believe they can’t possibly have the disorder and consequently not seek diagnosis or treatment.

ADHD is present in three forms: the hyperactive form, the inattentive form and the joint form. Once again, the hyperactive symptoms are commonly highlighted in the media whilst the inattentive form is commonly overlooked. Women more frequently have the inattentive form of ADHD (although both women and men can have any form) and this could account for the gender imbalance in terms of diagnosis. On average, six times as many men are diagnosed with ADHD compared to women in the UK. Many researchers believe the actual difference is more likely to be very minor, a ratio of 1:1.6 in females to males with ADHD. As is evident from these statistics we can infer that many women, unfortunately, go undiagnosed.

It is known that ADHD is regularly misdiagnosed as mood disorders in women. Comorbidities are common in all people with ADHD and as women are more likely to have the inattentive form of ADHD, they are often diagnosed without note of the ADHD alongside it.

In the UK very little NHS funding goes towards ADHD diagnosis and treatment, in relation to other neurodiversity’s. I am currently on a waiting list for treatment that is three years long, after already waiting two years for a diagnosis; and I am not in one of the worst-off areas in the country. Tales of people waiting seven years for a diagnosis are not unusual and, as a result it is no wonder people do not get diagnosed with what is the most common behavioural disorder in the country.

At the 2018 National Diversity Awards the ADHD Foundation won our community organisation award for disability. My reasons above explain why organisations like this are so vital to the wellbeing of people who find themselves struggling with this disorder, and also why it is crucial to raise awareness and understanding of ADHD.

The ADHD Foundation works in partnership with individuals, families, doctors, teachers and other agencies to improve emotional well-being, educational attainment, behaviour and life chances through better understanding and self-management of ADHD. Alongside this they also provide training for GP’s, Teachers, Social Care agencies and other professionals, raising awareness to bring about positive change and inclusion in mental health, education and employment.

They run training courses and conferences to discuss how to support students with ADHD and also how to cope as an adult with ADHD. By providing information about what ADHD is, how it can be treated and how you can support people with ADHD, they create a more inclusive and accessible world for those with this neurological disease. They also have researchers working alongside them to explore treatment protocols for ADHD and how effective they are.

The work the ADHD foundation does makes life a little less hard for both children and adults like myself, and it is wonderful that the National Diversity Awards were able to highlight the exceptional work they carry out across Europe.

If you want to find out more about this fantastic organisation, and for further information on the services they offer you can visit their website at https://www.adhdfoundation.org.uk/

Source – Robin Leak I Inclusive Companies

Louis Johnson, 12, from Tettenhall Wood, has been nominated in the positive role model (age) category in the national awards.

The prestigious awards recognises nominees in their respective fields of diversity, including age, disability, gender, race, faith, religion and sexual orientation.

In eight years of fundraising, since he was five years old, he has raised nearly £20,000 for local charities.

Last year alone, the Smestow School pupil raised nearly £6,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

In his nomination, Louis said: “Just being nominated means a lot, it is not about winning to me it is about others seeing what I do and awareness of charities I support.

“Just making a difference is all it takes.”

Last year Louis was named as one of two child ambassadors for the British Citizen Youth Awards. He also was awarded the Duncan Edwards Good Citizen Awards and a Certificate of Excellence from the Mayor of Wolverhampton.

His next fundraising challenge will see him undertake a 15-mile walk from Tettenhall to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, and back, in fancy dress, on April 20. When he reaches the hospital, Louis will be donating teddy bears and colouring books to children being treated there.

Nominations and voting for the National Diversity Awards close on May 31 and a shortlist of nominees will be announced shortly after. An awards ceremony will take place in September.

To vote for Louis, visit www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/nominate/21022.

Source – www . Express and Star . com

Two West Yorkshire Police employees have been nominated in the national Control Room Awards 2019.

The awards are due to take place this Thursday (7 March) at the De Vere Orchard Hotel in Nottingham.

Chief Inspector Nick Rook has been nominated for the award for Services to the Public and police staff member Eddie McEvoy is nominated in the Special Recognition for Bravery and Courage category.

Chief Inspector Rook is one of only a handful of registered sight impaired officers in the UK and has previously been nominated in the National Diversity Awards and European Diversity Awards for his work as a role model for other disabled police employees.

He has been a serving police officer for 20 years but four years ago suffered health complications which resulted in him losing nearly all his sight in his right eye. Since then he has suffered complications with his left eye, also affecting his vision. He was determined to retain his current position in the Force Communications Department and is now using specialist equipment to ensure he can still work effectively.

Chief Inspector Rook returned to work as soon as he could after losing sight in his right eye and since then has assisted with rebranding and setting up the first operations centre for the National Police Air Service, designed a new shift pattern which reduced sickness levels and brought in a replacement command and control system which saved the Force thousands of pounds.

He is also an executive member of the West Yorkshire Police Disability Association, a role in which he engages with others and tries to break down disability barriers.

Chief Inspector Rook said: “It is humbling to receive such recognitions. What I am really pleased about, especially taking into account Eddie’s nomination, is that these awards shine the spotlight on the hard work my colleagues in Contact Management do every day behind the scenes.”

Police staff member Eddie McEvoy, who works as an Initial Contact Officer in the Force Communications Department, has been nominated for talking a potentially suicidal male off a bridge. He was off-duty at the time of the incident in January 2018.

Being an experienced call handler, Eddie was aware of the potential risks to himself of approaching an individual with mental health issues who was in crisis. However, he took the decision to stop at the scene, talked the male away from the barrier and walked with him off the bridge.

This is the second year in a row that Eddie has been nominated for a Control Room Award.

Senior Contact manager Tom Donohoe said: “The APD Control Room awards are an important way to recognise those staff who work tirelessly and with dedication and commitment, but are not always in the public eye.

“I am delighted that for the second year running West Yorkshire Police have been nominated. It’s great to be in company with unsung heroes from other police forces, the fire service and smbulance service.

“These awards are a great way to recognise all the work that these staff do, day in and day out.”

Source – West Yorkshire Police

Even if young LGBT+ people can’t see themselves represented in history, they will see themselves in the people fighting for their rights now. Their efforts should be celebrated.

For the youth of today to see young transgender characters on shows like Butterfly, a mainstream TV show with famous actors, is monumental. Not only does it serve as a powerful representation for trans youth fighting against the hostility towards their identities, but it also works as an important source of knowledge for the general public who might be unfamiliar with the trials and tribulations of the LGBT+ community.

It’s easy to forget that it’s taken years of campaigners working for better representation to bring a story like Butterfly to mainstream television.

Up until the 1990s and mid-2000s, transgender issues weren’t often seen on screen, and when they were, it was through portrayals by straight, cisgender actors like Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, or Felicity Huffman in Transamerica. It wasnˆt until Netflix’s Orange is the New Black launched in 2013 that we saw a real breakthrough for transgender culture, with Laverne Cox in the role of transgender prisoner Sophia Burset.

It’s important for minority communities such as ours to reflect on those breakthrough moments to appreciate how far we’ve come – and how much further we still need to go; because it’s only by looking back at our history that we can pave the way forward.

It’s been just over 50 years since same-sex activity between men was decriminalised in the UK, led by John Wolfenden; it’s been almost 50 years since the first Pride march in London, with campaigners like Peter Tatchell; 20 years since television shows with regular LGBT+ characters like Ellen, Friends and Will & Grace first appeared on our screens; 14 years since civil partnerships were introduced in the UK and six years since same-sex marriage became legal.

The UK is now one of the best countries in the world for LGBT+ equality.

However, despite our community’s progress and rich LGBT+ history, there are still many people who don’t see themselves represented in daily life.

Civil rights organisation The Human Rights Campaign recently awarded The Hunger Games’ actor Amandla Stenberg with a visibility award. Stenberg hit the nail on the head when she said in her acceptance speech that if she “had more representations of black gay women growing up” that she would have had more idea of what was possible and acceptable, and therefore would have “come to conclusions” around her sexuality earlier.

It’s clear that despite the many strides that have been made in the past, many young LGBT+ people are still struggling to come out today – especially people of colour, who are often marginalised from the mainstream discourses of LGBT+ equality.

That’s why celebrations like LGBT+ History Month, Pride Month, or queer-focused awards allow us to promote LGBT+ causes and raise awareness about the modern issues that affect the community, while celebrating our achievements and increasing the visibility of LGBT+ trailblazers who inspire the next generation of change-makers.

I’m proud that the nominees of the British LGBT Awards reflect that, with a wealth of intersectional role models to be found in this year’s shortlist for the 17 May ceremony.

Some of the diverse and groundbreaking stars nominated by the British public this year include: pansexual singer Janelle Monáe; gender fluid drag star Courtney Act; Amazon Prime series The Bold Type’s interracial lesbian couple featuring two women of colour; gender fluid model Cara Delevingne; “lesbian Jesus” singer Hayley Kiyoko; actress and political campaigner Cynthia Nixon; drag icon RuPaul; and trans activist Munroe Bergdorf.

While it’s clear that times are changing, it’s important that young LGBT+ people today and the generations to come know our community’s past, and use it as a foundation to give a voice to all of the beautiful intersectionalities within the LGBT+ community.

My hope is that even if LGBT+ youth can’t see themselves represented in history, they will see themselves in the people fighting for their rights today, and grow up knowing that they aren’t alone.

Source – The Independent . co . uk  

Most of us take our gender for granted. We don’t worry about people addressing us with the wrong pronouns or challenging which public toilet we use. Should we require a service specific to our gender, we never imagine someone questioning our entitlement to it. Being our gender is like breathing the air, a reflex. Like air, however, gender is a deceptively complex compound.

Our genetic code, our physical bodies, our internal sense of self, our external expressions of identity and the social norms and stereotypes projected upon us – all these factors are implicated in the idea of gender. Most of the time, they align. When they diverge, we are confronted with the complications of gender, compelled to examine it with our conscious brains and to unpack what the complications mean for our values of equality, fairness and human dignity.

Trans people are those whose internal sense of their gender – what psychologists refer to as ‘gender identity’ – diverges from the sex assigned to them at birth. For anyone who is trans, or who knows a trans person, the urgency of acknowledging their real gender is clear.

As in every movement, we must stand together and be heard. The cruelty of denying people their basic right to self-determination contributes to the fact that at least 45% of trans people in the UK have attempted suicide, and a similar proportion have experienced at least one hate crime in the last year.

In the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, the Government took an important step forward by enabling trans people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate, legally recognising their correct gender. This can make a huge difference in applying for jobs and accessing public services. But the Act needs improvement.

The Government’s public consultation on what this reform should look like closes on 19 October  – and it is urgent and critical that everyone who believes in equality uses their voice to support trans rights. The bulk of the proposed reforms aim to eliminate excessively bureaucratic and sometimes traumatising barriers to acquiring a Gender Recognition Certificate. One of those is the requirement that trans people first receive a diagnosis of mental illness – an old-fashioned notion (now rejected by medical professionals) that being trans is a disease.

Another is the requirement to obtain specific medical interventions. Not all trans people want or need such interventions – and the law should not force unnecessary medical treatment upon anyone. A third is the requirement that trans people gather evidence of living in their ‘acquired gender’ for two years. In practice, amassing that evidence can be burdensome. Asking people to suffer without legal recognition for two years is unnecessary and cruel.

A fourth barrier is spousal consent. The Act should be changed to ensure trans people seeking access to a Gender Recognition Certificate cannot be held hostage by an objecting spouse. The Government is also rightly considering how the Act should be amended to recognise people who do not identify with the traditional gender binary.

Source – Metro Newspaper

Hate crimes recorded by police hit record high, Home Office figures show.

Religious hate crime has rocketed by 40 per cent in a year across England and Wales, as the number of offences recorded hits a record high.

New statistics released by the Home Office said more than half of religiously-motivated attacks in 2017-18 were directed at Muslims and the next most-commonly targeted group was Jewish people.

Police recorded a total of 94,098 hate crime offences – more than double the total five years ago – and all categories saw a rise.

“This increase is thought to be largely driven by improvements in police recording, although there has been spikes in hate crime following certain events such as the EU referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017,” the Home Office document said.

“It is thought that the sharp increase in religious hate crimes is due to a rise in these offences following the terrorist attacks in 2017.”

The period covered by the report, April 2017 to March 2018, covers the Islamist atrocities in Manchester, London Bridge and Parsons Green, as well as the far-right Finsbury Park attack.

Darren Osborne, who ploughed a hired van into Muslims leaving Ramadan prayers, cited Isis-inspired attacks among his motivations after being radicalised online in a matter of weeks.

The Home Office said terror offences may also be considered hate crimes, but while the Finsbury Park attack was counted because it was directed against Muslims, Islamists’ declared hatred for Western values could not yet be counted.

Three quarters of hate crimes were recorded as racially motivated, with the number of offences rising by 40 per cent.

Another 12 per cent of incidents were motivated by sexual orientation, up 27 per cent, 9 per cent religious, up 40 per cent, 8 per cent disability, up 30 per cent, and 2 per cent transgender, which was up 32 per cent.

The overall conviction rate for hate crimes has increased to 84.7 per cent, but only a small proportion of reported incidents – 12 per cent – end with someone being charged or summonsed to court.

Around two thirds of victims felt police had treated them fairly, lower than average, and they were more likely to say they had been emotionally effected or been left feeling vulnerable.

The figures were released the day after the government announced a wide-ranging review of hate crime laws, which will consider whether to add new “protected characteristics” including age and gender.

A spokesperson for the Law Commission told The Independent both misogyny and misandry would be considered and it is “not prioritising one area over another”. 

Hate crime is not an offence in itself, but is used to describe other crimes “motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic”, such as attacks and vandalism.

Violence against the person, public order offences, criminal damage and arson made up 96 per cent of hate-crime flagged offences.

Hatred was used to increase punishments handed out in court in more than two thirds of cases involving hostility on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability in the year.

A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) report said sentences were “uplifted” in around 7,700 cases, compared to just a handful a decade ago. 

Chris Long, a chief crown prosecutor, said: “We know being a victim of hate crime is particularly distressing because of the personal nature of the incident and the CPS is committed to robustly prosecuting these cases.

“The continuing increase in the number of offenders who receive increased sentences is a testament to the work of the CPS in building the cases correctly and providing the courts with the information they need to sentence appropriately.” 

Findings from the separate Crime Survey for England and Wales, which tracks the public’s experience of crime rather than what is recorded by police, indicate a drop of 40 per cent in hate crime incidents in the past decade.

 

www . Independent . co . uk  

Disabled people face considerable challenges when it comes to accessibility at UK tourist attractions and getting around on public transport, according to several pieces of new research.

One in four disabled people say negative attitudes from other passengers prevent them from using public transport, while 40 per cent often experience issues or difficulties when travelling by train in the UK, a study from disability equality charity Scope has found.

Its Independent. Confident. Connected report included findings based on interviews with 2,000 UK working age adults with long-term impairments or conditions.

“I can’t just travel spontaneously; there are long waits at train stations,” said wheelchair user Jignesh Vaidya. “Having been assured at one station that they have notified my destination of my arrival time, I often arrive to find there are no staff there to assist me.”

Amit Patel, who is blind, said: “I travel daily on the trains, tubes and buses around London with my guide dog and two-year-old son, confident that I can get the support I need to get to where I need to go.

“But a negative experience can knock that confidence easily. Travel shouldn’t be a barrier to independence. All transport companies provide help for those that need it, but it’s often not well known, or the service isn’t consistent enough or flexible enough to adapt to the needs of disabled people.”

Meanwhile, accessibility awareness is also a major issue. User experience agency Sigma investigated the user-friendliness of public spaces, transport hubs and leisure venues for disabled people by submitting two accessibility requests – one for a person in a wheelchair and another for somebody with autism – to 132 different organisations.

These included airports, train operators, music venues, sports stadiums, hotels and cinemas. Only 46 per cent of organisations responded to the disabled access request from somebody in a wheelchair – this number dropped to 33 per cent when it came to the request for someone with autism.

Some 27 per cent of venues also gave generic responses to requests that would only be suitable for a physically impaired person, without understanding the difference between physical and cognitive conditions.

“In our experience, most companies want to do more – but have not made their accessibility policy or staff awareness a priority,” says Hilary Stephenson, managing director at Sigma. “However, the commercial benefits of providing full access are clear. It is estimated that thousands of businesses could be turning away the custom of as many as one in five people by being inaccessible to people of ranging abilities or conditions; a loss of £212bn.”

Issues around accessible travel have been brought to the fore in the last year by high-profile cases in the media.

In July, comedian Tanya Lee Davis was left “humiliated and embarrassed” after a Great Western train guard tried to get her to move her mobility scooter for a mother and child. BBC journalist Frank Gardner was stranded on an empty plane at Heathrow airport for the second time in six months. And journalist Hollie Brooks felt “like a second-class citizen” when she boarded a Greater Anglia train in August to find her allotted wheelchair space taken up with a catering trolley and boxes of food.

Problems aren’t confined to trains and buses either, as highlighted by disability activist and postgraduate student Bal Deol. Since she steered a campaign to ensure taxis couldn’t refuse to pick up wheelchair users, she says she’s been “blacklisted” by local cab companies in Stoke on Trent.

“Taxi drivers overcharging or refusing to take people like me prevents wheelchair users from living life with the same level of freedom as non-disabled people.

“Last week I was quoted £35 by one taxi driver and £10 by another on the same taxi rank – the disparity is shocking and has obvious financial implications. I have previously been quoted £55 for a one-mile journey after a night out when the going rate for that trip is only £10 for everybody else.”

James Taylor, head of policy and public affairs at Scope, said: “From airports to buses, we’ve heard too many horror stories of disabled people let down by poor infrastructure, bad service, or being treated as an afterthought. This urgently needs to change.

“A genuinely inclusive transport network would allow disabled people to be part of their community, work, and see family and friends.

“Progress towards fair and inclusive transport has been slow, and disabled people want to see change happening a lot faster.”

He added: “That’s why we’re calling on everyone – transport providers, politicians and the public- to play their part.”

 

Source – Independent . co . uk

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