Wellingborough wheelchair user's campaign to improve town centre accessibility

They went out last Tuesday

By Callum Faulds
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 6:00 am

Wellingborough councillors went out in a wheelchair to examine the town, looking at areas that cause poor accessibility for disabled people.

This month officials met with disabled campaigner Stephen Liney to discover more with a view to making improvements.

On the day officials were given the opportunity to try out a wheelchair, having borrowed one from Shire Community Services, to see what it is like from a user's perspective.

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Left to right - Stephen Liney, Cllr Valerie Anslow, Cllr Marion Turner-Hawes, mayor Cllr Lora Lawman

The idea came from Stephen himself which he refers to as a ‘wheelchair experience’, where participants will gain an insight into what it’s like to be in a wheelchair.

Stephen said: “It’s to open people’s eyes and change their perspectives. By going to the councillors and the mayor the hope was that they would see things and put their voice out there to get things changed.

“I think people’s perspectives will change. For example there might be a shopkeeper who isn’t sure why they need a ramp.

"If they could use a wheelchair and try to access somewhere that isn’t accessible, they’d understand why the law is in place.

“My vision is to do a good thing for the community. If a shop that isn’t accessible becomes accessible from this experience or if the pavements are smoothed out then a good thing will have been achieved.”

Stephen is the founder of a new initiative called All Possibilities Access (APA). He is also a member of the Facebook group Access For All Wellingborough Northants.

Cllr Valerie Anslow is one of the councillors who met with Stephen and went with him around the town centre.

Together with Cllr Marion Turner-Hawes and mayor Cllr Lora Lawman they identified places that are potentially dangerous and preventing access.

Cllr Anslow said: “I'd never been in a wheelchair before, only pushed one. It was very difficult on the uneven paths.

"We also tried going into a disabled toilet and saw how difficult it would be without the handles.

“While we were out we saw at eye level the disgusting state of the toilets in Market Square and also couldn’t help but notice the lack of cleanliness of the town centre. The streets clearly haven’t been swept in a long time.”