Carers Week 2019

Today’s blog comes from Councillor Helen Holland, cabinet member for Adult Social Care, to mark Carers Week (10-16 June), reflecting on the vital and often unsung role carers play.

This week is Carers Week, and this gives me the chance to tell you what I have been doing during this special week, but also how our work to support carers fits with the wider Better Lives transformation programme.

An important element of the Better Lives programme is the work we are doing to boost the usage of TEC (technology enabled care).

We have been really clear that TEC will not replace person-to-person individual support, but that better use of technology can enhance  personal care, by taking away some of the more mundane tasks, and increasing people’s independence. I am passionate about the difference TEC can make to people’s lives and went on to the Emma Britton show on BBC Radio Bristol this week to talk about it.

This week I also attended the opening of a lovely exhibition, ‘The Art of Caring’, featuring beautiful artwork and crafts made by carers. I also went to a really thought-provoking and lively session at the Vassall Centre called ‘Getting Carers Connected’. Both of these events really brought it home to me again this week, the tremendous work done day-in and day-out, by thousands of people in our city who care for family members.

As we were reminded of at the art exhibition, if all the people who care for someone decided tomorrow that they were not going to carry on with their caring responsibilities, the cost to the public purse, to the Council, the NHS and other services would be massive.

However, it’s not just the financial issues that we need to consider. Many elderly, ill or disabled people want the familiarity and security of a family member’s care, and those carers are very often selfless in their role, in some cases, losing contact with friends and activities they have known and enjoyed for years. I also know that, sadly, being a carer may also lead to some people losing their job or missing out on career opportunities.

This week I have been hearing from carers about how being able to access help and advice from carer’s support organisations can make a huge difference to their lives – having access to a support group where they can share their frustrations, get respite with activities that promote mindfulness and relaxation, as well as getting practical support with benefits, equipment and so on, all makes a difference and helps them to be able to carry on supporting their loved ones.

It seems appropriate this week that Channel Four aired the first episode of The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes. Set in Bristol, the pioneering project featured a restaurant staffed by people living with dementia.

Do try and catch the programme, and see the rest of the series. It really challenges assumptions you might have about people living with dementia – but again, it also shows the amazing job that family members do in caring for them, the stresses and strains – and also the moments of great joy – that come with that.

You can find out more about Carers Week 2019 here

Join the summer travel challenge

During the summer period, we can choose more active travel options for our daily commute. Not only is this good for our health but it’s good for a healthier and sustainable city too.

People are increasingly choosing more sustainable ways of travelling around Bristol. Between 2011 and 2018 there was a 64% increase in people cycling to work. We have also seen a rise in car sharing and walk to work initiatives. And the number of bus journeys taken in Bristol, per person, is on the rise – bucking the national trend.

We can all play our own part in meeting the challenge. Here are some ways you can get started this summer:

  • Active travel. This week saw the launch of 2019’s Travel Challenge – Travel West’s invitation to all commuters in the region to leave the car at home, where possible, and choose alternatives for the daily commute, school run or other travel.
  • Walking.  Walkfest – Bristol’s annual walking festival – had its most successful year yet with attendance up 40%. The festival included art, history and nature themed walks, alongside a large choice of walking sports. Additionally, there were walking to school and walking to work events, as well as walks assessing the pedestrian-friendliness of different areas. On the Travelwest website we’ve highlighted some great walking routes, tips and incentives. The #GetOutAndWalk initiative is here to help you mix up your travel choices where you can.

  • Biking. Cyclists of all abilities are invited to attend the HSBC Let’s Ride Bristol 2019 cycling festival this Sunday (16 June). It’s a festival of cycling which marks the second year of our partnership with British Cycling. I’m pleased that more than 1,000 people have already registered to ride traffic-free around the city centre and Millennium Square route. If you have no bike then hire-bikes and the app-based yellow YoBikes will be available to use on the day. If you’re new to YoBike their first ride is free. Please book your place at Let’s Ride, although people can turn up on the day and ride.
  • Car share.  Could someone be going the same way as you? The Travel West website has some great tips for car share and buddy schemes. There are several apps and sites that can help. Sharing is social, saves you money and helps reduce CO2 emissions.

Thursday 20 June is Clean Air Day. Even though increased numbers of people are using public transport, walking and cycling, harmful air pollution levels from vehicles still exceed the UK and EU air quality limits in Bristol.

This week I announced options for how we can help tackle the problem. I want measures that support everyone’s health, help us meet government targets, and are fair to all people in Bristol.

Read about the proposals and look out for the public consultation which opens on Monday 1 July.

All efforts to reduce the congestion on our roads and introduce healthy and active travel will make a positive difference. Make sure you join the travel challenge this summer.

Mental Health: moving the conversation forward

Today’s blog post comes from Cllr Asher Craig Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Communities, Equalities and Public Health.

Social workers play a crucial role in the mental and emotional wellbeing of the vulnerable children and adults they work with. They are often the voice of the voiceless; helping to ensure the people they work with feel empowered in their own lives. We know that in order to empower others, social workers need to feel that their roles are valued.

However, as The British Association of Social Workers recently commented, this isn’t always recognised in legislation. This is why, with the ongoing review of mental health legislation by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Work, there is an opportunity to explain the value of social work.  The aim of the group’s inquiry is to promote the role of the social worker within mental health services and to improve social worker working conditions under a new Mental Health Act.

Mental health and wellbeing is a key priority for us, and we recently launched Thrive Bristol. Thrive is a ten year programme to improve the mental health and wellbeing of everyone in the city, with a focus on those with the greatest needs. It covers all ages and considers mental health in its broadest sense. Mental wellbeing is also a key focus for the One City approach; the overarching goal for wellbeing in the One City Plan is that by 2050 everyone in Bristol will have the opportunity to live a life in which they are mentally and physically healthy. Mental and physical health need to achieve political, social and cultural equality. This is starting to happen, but there is a long way to go and lot of work still to do. Until the conversation about mental wellbeing is treated with equal seriousness as physical wellbeing, health inequalities will not be meaningfully reduced and our children and young people will continue grow up in the wake of adverse childhood experiences.

To be a healthier city, we need to work across all sectors; education, employment and housing all play intersecting roles when it comes to mental and emotional wellbeing. Thrive Bristol has a focus on prevention, early intervention and resilience. Educating our children and young people about how to take care of themselves and each other and how to talk openly about their feelings and struggles is the first step. This ensures stronger resilience and provides individuals with the tools and vocabulary to recognise triggers and communicate meaningfully about mental health issues.

Bristol City Council is also a supporter of the Time to Change initiative, which wants to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems. Time to Change recognises that it can be very difficult to open up about mental health at work, with 95 per cent of people calling in sick with stress giving a different reason. By working together as a city and using the expertise and support offered by the national Time to Change campaign, we can make great progress towards Bristol becoming a city free from stigma and discrimination around mental health.

Information on how to get in touch with mental health services and links to support groups in Bristol is available here.

Trading Places

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This week I led a delegation to Boston and Chicago in the USA.

The trip was focussed on growing trade and investment in Bristol and we took with us several businesses from Bristol and the wider region.    The visit was fully supported by the government, we were accompanied by the government’s Department for International trade (DIT), and my travel was fully funded by the Chicago Council for Global Affairs.

The businesses who came with us included:

  • Rixxo, which is a digital campaign agency, working with businesses in Bristol and around the world to engage wider audiences.
  • Sparkol, software company which produces videos and animation for other companies.
  • YellowDog, the most interestingly named company, which expands capacity for companies and simplifies complexity in digital processes.

The West of England Mayor and some businesses from the wider region also came.

As you can tell from the list above, this was a high tech-focussed visit  and we chose Boston and Chicago as cities who could be successfully targeted to grow contacts and inward business for Bristol’s tech economy. This is great for Bristol, as successful companies will grow and create more jobs for people. I have invited them to share their success in my blog next week – watch this space.

IMG-20190607-WA0002While in Boston, I also took the opportunity to meet with the Mayor of Boston, and several of his department commissioners, looking at issues common to our two cities.   Boston and Bristol have a lot in common and I’m not just referring to history.  Both cities have growing young populations and a strong migrant population.  Both cities have a high proportion of citizens with higher level qualifications and both of us have seen the widening of the inequality gap. We also both have housing need as our number one priority and both have to deal with a huge daytime growth of people in the city, from commuters coming into the city to work and visit.

We were able to share and learn with Boston and we discussed the challenges of physical participation in sport and mental health challenges. I was delighted to be able to introduce the work of Empire Fighting Chance and the work they are doing with mental health intervention for disadvantaged communities.

We also looked at the innovative transport infrastructure system, The Greenway, with tunnel systems which takes traffic out of the built up areas and instead provides pleasant green pedestrianised space.

We were able to look at the growing challenges of adult and children’s social care.  Major cities in America are facing even bigger challenges than we are so it was good to hear their experiences and solutions.

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In Chicago, I was honoured to meet Chicago’s newly elected first female black mayor,

Lori Lightfoot. I then joined the Global Cities Forum where I spoke with other mayors on the growing understanding of the leading role cities play in tackling the 21st century challenges, including migration and population growth.

Cities continue to grow and within 10 years, 60% of people across the world will live in cities.

The role of internationalism is important to Bristol as a major city and we must embrace the opportunity to make connections with cities and global agencies and crucially bring new trade and investment to our city. Investment in infrastructure is essential to a city with a rapidly growing population like ours and to hide away from that fact and the urgent need for modern infrastructure and inclusive growth would be an abrogation of responsibility of city leadership.

Look out for next week’s blog, including stories from the businesses who came with us.

Children’s Right to Food Charter

Today’s blog comes from Kerry McCarthy, Member of Parliament for Bristol East.

For the past year, I’ve been taking part in the Children’s Future Food Inquiry (CFFI). It’s the first time the views of children and young people living in food poverty have been collated in one study, and we heard some really moving stories from kids about the impact that hunger has on them, including their ability to concentrate in class, as well as the shame and stigma that comes with being on free school meals.

The inquiry has now ended, and I held a parliamentary debate to reveal its findings. I called on Ministers to implement the Children’s Right2Food Charter, which was drawn up in response to the evidence we heard over the course of the year.

The Charter calls for all children to be guaranteed a healthy lunch at school, and for parents and carers to be helped to put healthy food on the table at home. Other measures include reducing the stigma around free school meals and limits on the advertising of junk food.

This Government has done little to address the food poverty crisis facing our society, which the UN Rapporteur called ‘a social calamity and an economic disaster’ in his recent report on the impact of austerity on human rights in the UK.  I am proud that individuals and organisations across Bristol are, however, leading by example.

Food insecurity and hunger are very real problems in Bristol, with 1 in 3 families living in poverty. This already distressing statistic rises to a shocking 50% in more deprived areas like Lawrence Hill.

The school holidays are a particularly difficult time for those families who rely on free school meals during term time; sometimes this could be a child’s only decent meal of the day. Last summer Feeding Bristol – a local charity which the Mayor and I helped set up – ran a holiday hunger scheme across the city, providing around 3,000 meals to children who would otherwise have gone without. We did have some Government funding for a pilot last year but, despite its success, we have not been given any funding for this year. We are therefore appealing to the business community for funding to carry out this crucial work.

For many low-income families the difficulty of putting food on the table is compounded by a lack of access to affordable shops or greengrocers selling fresh produce. Such areas, where it is difficult to access good-quality and affordable food, are known as ‘food deserts.’ A national study last year by Kellogg’s identified three areas in Bristol as food deserts including Hartcliffe and Withywood – which were, shockingly, deemed the second and fifth worst in the whole country.

Poverty is also a factor in childhood obesity, as junk food is often cheaper and more easily accessible than healthier alternatives. There are more takeaways in poorer areas than in the more affluent parts of the city. Two Bristol mums – Suad Yusuf and Sahra Hasan – have done great work to expose the inequalities of takeaway culture in our city, recently featuring in a BBC documentary about the number of fast food restaurants in their home of Easton compared to those in Clifton – a staggering 44 to seven.

While this may all make for rather bleak reading, the positive news is that pioneering work is taking place across the city to promote healthy and sustainable food. Bristol already holds a Silver Sustainable Food Cities Award – just the second city in the UK to do so – which recognises efforts to transform Bristol’s food culture through things like safeguarding the diversity of food retailers, increasing urban food production and supporting community food enterprises. Bristol has now launched its bid to become the first Gold Sustainable Food City in the UK by 2020, and improving food equality will rightly be key to achieving this, along with a focus on procurement and on tackling food waste.

I will have a further opportunity to raise the findings of the CFFI in a parliamentary debate in the coming weeks, at which point I hope to see Ministers taking child hunger seriously by supporting efforts – like those seen in Bristol – to end food insecurity for all.

The Grand Iftar

Today’s blog comes from Easton ward Councillor Afzal Shah.

Ramadan Kareem! The month of Ramadan, for Muslims, is a period of reflection, self-restraint and solidarity, and involves fasting from dawn until dusk. Ramadan is not an individual experience, but about community.

This year, Bristol witnessed its third annual “Grand Iftar”, bringing together thousands of people from diverse backgrounds to collectively break-bread.

There were a number of engaging speakers, including renowned American scholar, Sheikh Afdal Feroze, who spoke about the need to promote greater friendship and understanding, as well as the significance of the holy month of Ramadan. We also had the opportunity to gain a brief insight into the Islamic contribution to Astronomy, in an enlightening speech by Robert Massey (Dep-Director of the Royal Astronomical Society), and were also joined by local leaders including Deputy Mayor Cllr Asher Craig and Kerry McCarthy MP.

The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, spoke about how Bristol’s Grand Iftar has inspired other cities around the globe to get in touch via the Global Parliament of Mayors. Bristol, indeed Easton, can be immensely proud of what its achieved – this is the best antidote to the politics of division that we are currently witnessing.

There was a heightened atmosphere of excitement and solidarity, buoyed by the beautiful Islamic inspired “nasheed” music gently playing in the background, the evocative call to prayer made by the Imam of St Marks Road Mosque that echoed across St Marks Rd, and the wafting fragrances of the food being prepared. We were also treated to a video, commissioned by myself and Mohammed Elsharif (Grand Iftar co-organisers), detailing the preparation, and how the event has further united the city’s Muslim community. An inspiring performance, too, by former poet-laureate, Miles Chambers, as he read his poem, “Bristol, Bristol”, paying homage to the rich diversity to Bristol.

As we were preparing to collectively break the fast, we were reminded that this event simply wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers, and of course the contributions of local businesses and support of the emergency services. Preparing 6,000 meals is no mean feat! A huge thanks to everyone who attended yesterday evening. Bring on Bristol’s Grand Iftar 2020!

Hit for Six – Cricket World Cup comes to Bristol

CWC photo 2Hosting three men’s ICC Cricket World Cup tournament matches next month is another landmark achievement for this city. It’s a reminder of the priority we place on sport, not just as a means to connect globally but to celebrate the inclusiveness of Bristol.

Reigning champions Australia, past winners Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as Bangladesh and Afghanistan are all in action in group games at the County Ground between 1st – 11th June. And with South Africa, the West Indies and New Zealand also playing pre-tournament warm-up games here this month, there is no better opportunity for our city’s diverse communities to enjoy a global sporting event together.

Bristol successfully hosted eight ICC Women’s World Cup matches in 2017 and our status as a host city for the men’s tournament this summer continues to show we are delivering world class sports events to the city.

The Circuit of the Mendips, the Tour of Britain and a future for T20 cricket internationals in Bristol are among events to have been hosted or secured in recent years. We have also declared our ambition for Bristol to be a host city for the football’s 2030 World Cup, should a bid from this country proceed.

But securing major events is only one of several priorities within our approach to sport.

Bristol was named as a European City of Sport for 2017 because of our sporting facilities, level of participation, success of local teams and sporting events – and our Bristol Active City website continues to promote activities taking place across the city.

Our proud cultural and sporting history is a core contributor to the ongoing success of the city and to making Bristol a better place to live. Our ‘City of Openness, Imagination and Originators’ strategy sets out our ambitions to ensure that every citizen should be able to participate in and benefit from the city’s cultural and sporting life.

Bristol is the most active of the Core Cities, with over 70% of citizens meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s Guidance on physical activity, but the challenges posed by economic and social inequalities remain.

Sport and general physical activity plays an important role in both physical and mental health and well-being. We want to inspire all people to get involved, be it by providing services, being open to ideas and enabling others to run events, or continuing to work with community groups to promote sport and physical activity in under-represented groups.

Campaigns such as ‘Bristol Girls Can’ aim to break down the barriers around exercise and inspire more women to get active, while the Empire Fighting Chance boxing project challenges and inspires young people to realise their potential. Run4Life has been delivering Beginner Running Courses across Bristol since January 2015 and the 16th June Let’s Ride cycling festival, in partnership with British Cycling, is an example of a fun activity open to all.

I hope that the arrival of the men’s Cricket World Cup in Bristol will connect, entertain and inspire our citizens and visitors alike, helping us to achieve the goal of creating healthier and more resilient communities.

Children Rights at 30

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Those were the words of the great Nelson Mandela who was a powerful advocate of the rights of children and the responsibilities nations and communities have to support, develop and protect the next generation.

At a gathering in London today, I and Cllr Helen Godwin, Cabinet Member for Women, Children and Families, joined others from across the UK to celebrate the world’s foremost commitment to children, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). We discussed and debated the impact of this monumental declaration of the rights of the child whilst also reflecting on the reality of being a young person growing up in 2019.

The challenges that face children, young people and families are laid bare by the many headlines written about child poverty, increasing inequality and the impact of austerity on the services people rely on. But the question that I ask and is asked of me is; “what are you doing about it?”

Nelson Mandela also said: “Each of us as citizens has a role to play in creating a better world for our children.”

Those words are reflected in our own city’s commitment to children and young people, The Bristol Children’s Charter, which addresses its 10 commitments by saying: “No single organisation or agency can make enough progress towards these aspirations alone. Partners commit to working together to deliver this vision for all children to create a thriving city that is good for everyone.”

Our approach to support, develop and protect children and young people is a collective one. We work together with other agencies, charities, schools, colleges, universities, businesses, youth organisations and most importantly families, to put in place the structures and activities needed to deliver on our shared ambitions.

As a council we have invested £3.2m a year in youth services, which is delivering targeted services for the most deprived communities in the city. We can only do this by working with charities, youth organisations, NHS, Police and many others.

As a city we’re on the road to eradicating period poverty by pulling together the creative and organisational wealth of the city. All sectors are engaged in this movement that Cllr Godwin is driving ahead with our partners.

We’re building schools, tackling youth homelessness, delivering apprenticeships and feeding children during the summer holidays.

This and much, much more is being done because we, like the UN community, agree that the rights of the child are our responsibility to uphold and deliver.

Environmental fines increased by Cabinet

steve-pearceToday’s guest blog comes from from Cllr Steve Pearce, Cabinet Member for Waste, Commercialisation and Regulatory Services.

The government has been consulting on Household & Business recycling recently and the consultation ended yesterday, 13th May. But this is the action that we were taking locally last week to make Bristol’s streets cleaner.

Environmental crime has a significant and wholly detrimental impact on the wellbeing of our residents and to the city’s visitors, so on Tuesday the 7th May I was delighted to approve:

  • increasing fixed penalty charges for flyposting, graffiti, distribution of printed matter and fly-tipping
  • removal of the early payment rate for flyposting, graffiti, distribution of printed matter, failure to produce waste transfer notes or a waste carriers license, and
  • the introduction of a new fixed penalty in relation to the new Domestic Duty of Care.

I believe that removing the early payment rates and increasing penalty rates for some offences sends a clear message that Bristol will not tolerate behaviour that disrespects our fellow citizens.

I should point out that there is no proposal to increase the penalty rate for littering or to remove the reduced rate for early payment in relation to that offence.

The fixed penalty in relation to the new Domestic Duty of Care is a new measure so we have set the fixed penalty rate at £200. This will be reviewed in 12-18 months once it has been more widely publicised.

Our annual Quality of Life Survey highlights that litter, dog fouling and other street scene issues are of particular concern to Bristol residents.

  • According to our 2015/16 Quality of Life survey nearly 3/4 of people who responded identified street litter as a problem.
  • More than 3/5 of residents felt that dog fouling was a problem in their local area.
  • And 30 percent of respondents identified anti-social graffiti as a problem.

It is apparent that these problems are more pronounced in the city centre and some of the more deprived areas of the city.

For example, while 30.3% of respondents identified anti-social graffiti as a problem, that number rose to 47% in the City Centre and over 60% in Ashley Ward.

Groups such as Keep Britain Tidy have also noted that those living in more deprived areas are less likely to feel satisfied with the appearance of their local area compared to those living in more affluent areas.

The approach adopted in the Clean Streets plan emphasises education and community engagement alongside a more robust approach to enforcement.

The Mayor has made a pledge that Bristol will be measurably cleaner by 2020 and the Clean Streets Plan which underpins the pledge is designed to change the behaviour of people in Bristol in order to reduce litter, dog fouling, fly tipping, graffiti and other environmental crimes. This will be done by:

  • Sending a clear message
  • Cleaning up the city, and by
  • A robust, zero tolerance approach to enforcement.

Although the cleanliness of the city has improved in many parts more work needs to be done particularly in relation to behaviour change.

Although between 16/17 and 17/18 there was a reduction in the number of fly-tip incidents of over 12%, the cost of environmental crime to the city remains high. In 17/18, 8206 reports of fly tipping were made to Bristol Waste Company (BWC) costing £392,551 to remove. In the same year we spent £100,000 on removing graffiti.

The Domestic Duty of Care Fixed Penalty S34 (2A) Environmental Protection Act came into force from 7th January 2019. This enables local authorities to issue a FPN to a person who has failed to comply with the duty relating to the transfer of household waste.

The Domestic Duty of Care requirement means that householders must ask the person or business they transfer their waste to (or who arranges the transfer) for evidence of their authorisation, such as a copy of their waste carrier’s registration or proof of their exemption registration issued by the Environment Agency.

The Clean Streets publicity and communications plan will include a campaign to highlight householders responsibilities when making private arrangements to dispose of domestic waste and will highlight low cost/free options for getting rid of unwanted household goods.

Fixed penalties relating to dog fouling and dogs off lead are governed by separate legislation and are already set at the highest level currently available.

Making the streets of Bristol cleaner is one of the key objectives of the 2017-2022 Corporate Strategy. The strategy says that we will put Bristol on course to be run entirely on clean energy by 2050 and introduce a safe, clean streets campaign. The Clean Streets Campaign will be a main focus to help us improve the cleanliness of the city and focus our resources on the areas of highest need.

Hidden in plain view

Disability Discrimination in 21st Century Britain

Today’s blog comes from Michael Clinton, Research Director at the Schumacher Institute.

I am a disabled person. Getting around has always been a challenge but the wear and tear of  a few years under my belt means that my mobility is not what it once was.

It has always hurt when I landed on those marble floors beloved by shopping malls, but these falls are more likely these days. So now I have to use my wheelchair every time I go out. The sad truth is that in my lifetime nothing has really changed. A few drop kerbs and badly designed accessible toilets, inclusion do to make.

Quite simply the built environment is – even if new – hostile to disabled people. Only 5% of homes are even minimally accessible. Most new builds have at least one front door step, so getting in and out of your own home can be the first challenge! Then there is public transport. I have used planes, trains and busses in my time and they are all flawed. Tiny inaccessible toilets on aeroplanes, steps and gaps onto trains and busses all pose risks for disabled people. Even going self-propelled in a wheelchair or mobility scooter can be risky if the drop kerbs are blocked or too steep to safely use (more common than you might think). Any of which could prevent or delay you getting to work, the shops or a doctors’ appointment, now imagine if it is the route home that is blocked. You may actually be unable to get home at all!

My local railway station is only part time manned. Normally I would arrange assistance onto and off the train (thanks to the steps), a service that is usually well delivered, but it can and has for some failed totally. The homeward platform at this station is on the opposite side of the track from the station exit. To get to the exit in a wheelchair requires crossing the tracks and avoiding the Intercity 125’s. Would you risk that in a wheelchair without assistance?

If something goes wrong for an able bodied person they can usually walk out of a situation. I can’t. I’m stuck. At any point in the journey if things go wrong I could find myself in a very vulnerable situation very quickly. It is this added risk that makes life so very challenging for many disabled people. So I drive. At least I can shelter in the car and call the AA or on occasions I simply don’t travel.

A few years ago I was made redundant and so needed a job. I wrote out my CV and hunted through the situations vacant. I saw a company that closely matched my own skill set and it was barely a mile away from home. So I brushed up my CV and wrote a covering letter, donned my best suit and went round to deliver my CV. Imagine how I felt when I found that the office was an old house and completely inaccessible. I ended up getting to the front door on all fours!! Why should anyone have to get down on all fours to seek a job in the 21st century? Would you?

The point is that for disabled people to contribute we need to be allowed to participate. That means a built environment that is fit for all. ALL homes built to Lifetime Standards, FULLY accessible transport systems and a realisation that even listed buildings can and should be made accessible. We live in the present not the past!

Why should the built environment be inclusive? Well here is a little thought for you. Nearly half of the population will suffer either a permanent or temporary disability in their lives with about 1 in 5 of those of working age being disabled. This world can be very hostile for disabled people. Doorsteps basically say “no cripples here”! That kind of attitude is illegal when applied to any other identifiable group today and quite rightly so! Next time you walk down the high street look at the buildings around you. If they have steps in front the chances are they are not accessible. Which means disabled people cannot access the offered services, work there, or socialise there. Then think how would you feel if you are one of those people suddenly faced with being disabled, especially if it is your own home or place of work?

May your next journey be safe and informative.