Scope Brighton

07 October 2020

Our local surroundings can have a big impact on our health and disabled people often face barriers to using local spaces because many buildings, events and day to day processes are still inaccessible. 

The Local People project in Brighton, supported by Scope, works with local disabled people and unpaid carers to address these inequalities and raise awareness of the inaccessibility of their local area. They have developed shared priorities that include raising awareness and acceptance of disability in all forms and the needs of unpaid carers, increasing physical and environmental access, including making public transport more accessible, reducing isolation and increasing access to activities.

The project has worked with local partners to address access barriers, including enabling accessible community activities, supporting the local Resource Centre with access guidance and portable ramps for local groups, and planning projects to increase dropped kerbs and Changing Places facilities (fully accessible toilets). Through a project researching and campaigning to increase beach access in the city, participants engaged with the local council in order to make the beach more accessible.

Project members advising on accessibility at a local gas site.

The confidence and knowledge gained through the project has empowered people to work with and influence local decision makers on other issues, knowing that their contribution is making a difference and building and strengthening local control. Volunteers from the project recently met with the CEO of gas network company SGN to discuss the impact planned upgrade work could have on the daily lives of local disabled people and make recommendations to mitigate this. The feedback was well received and SGN plan to use it to ensure that they consider the needs of disabled people when planning works.

The pandemic provided a period when the inaccessibility faced by disabled people would become even worse than usual, with many members having to shield at home, isolated from supermarkets, food and any social interaction.

During lockdown, members quickly reacted in order to stay connected virtually and plan community action.

“Pandemics heighten all forms of inequality and disability is not immune to this. Continuing to support each other and the wider disabled community gives us back a sense of control and support, that otherwise feel like they have been removed during this difficult time.” Nikolaia - project board member

The Local People project in Brighton is supported by Scope and funded by People’s Health Trust using money raised by Health Lottery South East. The Local People programme is a People’s Health Trust initiative which involves supporting residents to develop a shared vision for their community and take action on the issues that matter most to local people.

This case study was produced as part of People's Health Trust's 2020 Annual Review and demonstrates how our surroundings are an important social determinant of health. To read it in full, click here.

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