Enabling Kirkley campaigns for better accessibility in the area. Project Leader David Lawrence talks about how the group uses local influence to improve the environment for disabled people.
“As someone with a disability it’s easy to feel devalued by your environment. I couldn’t continue working and finished my last job six years ago. It felt like I was exiting from society. Being involved with the Local Conversation in Kirkley has given me back a sense of self-worth.
With the Enabling Kirkley group, it was clear that [local] accessibility was a problem. We produced booklets to go out to the shops. We’d go into the shops and speak to owners and employees to look at where there are accessibility issues that could be improved.
In our group we have people with different disabilities - physical, mental, sensory impairment, learning difficulties - so we’ve got people in the group that can speak to their needs and point the shop owner in the right direction.
It's so positive to have things actually change because of our group.
One example where we’ve made a tangible difference is with First Light festival, a multi arts festival in Lowestoft that runs live music, well-being events, science events and screenings all on the beach. The first year it ran there were a few issues around access: stages were difficult to see, soft mats were used for beach access and the cable guards grounded wheelchairs.
Through our advocacy, the organisers made some changes for the 2022 festival. They moved the stages so that wheelchair users could view the music acts from the concrete boardwalk, they used hard matting and less obstructive cable guards. It’s so positive to have things actually change because of our group.
All our Enabling Kirkley members feel valued because they see that they’re making a difference. The respect we’re shown by people is important, too. They really respect that we’re doing it because we want to improve our community for everyone.”
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