Having a visible or invisible disability affects the choices of where to stay or visit whether just for a day or a week – and that accounts for 1 in 5 people in the UK.
There is often a great deal of research which goes into which hotel or bed and breakfast to stay at, transport considerations, can they access restaurants or tourist attractions.
Scores of businesses and tourist attractions across the Fylde Coast have been playing their part over the years to make their businesses more welcoming for people with physical, sensory and other ‘hidden’ disabilities.
But, during the past year, the Access Fylde Coast project has boosting the efforts by helping even more businesses to enhance their accessibility offer via access guides, disability awareness training and helping to make local events fully-inclusive.
So, we invited people with a variety of disabilities from across the UK, including Becky Dann from Channel 4s The Undatables, to experience the Fylde Coast and give their own views on their visits.
Now, we’ve created a mini documentary series following them around the wonderful Fylde Coast, hosted by Invictus Games hero and amputee Mike Goody.
RAF gunner Mike was on patrol in Afghanistan in 2008 when the armoured vehicle he was driving hit a roadside bomb. Mike was trapped under the wreckage for three hours, causing severe injuries to his leg. Over two-and-a-half-years and 14 operations, eventually Mike had his leg amputated from the knee.
The swimmer and runner, who has a haul of gold medals from the Invictus Games and has swam the channel since losing his limb, was keen to be involved with the project’s work, knowing all too well the difficulties faced by disabled people heading out on day trips or going on holiday.
Says Mike: “I think AFC is a fantastic idea”.
“I’ve travelled all over the UK for a plethora of different reasons since I’ve been injured and it kind of feels to me that whenever you mention to someone about being disabled, they automatically kick into “stereotype mode” and expect you to arrive in a wheelchair or crutches.
“I’ve lost count of the times when arriving at a hotel, for example, and they’ve asked why I have requested an accessible/walk in bathroom. I’ve even been refused a couple of years ago to have the accessible room & tried to move me to a ‘normal room’ as I wasn’t a wheelchair user?!
Needless to say, I did NOT stay at that hotel that night or ever since!”Mike Goody.
“I’d love to think that AFC is going to pave the way for not only tourist areas but the whole of the UK. A project that local councils up and down the country can get involved with and follow suit.
“To educate and change peoples’ perspectives. Encourage local businesses to make the sometimes very small but necessary changes required to make life easier for anyone with a disability.
“It’s not all ramps & handrails! It’s also not about paying lip-service to current laws protecting people with disabilities and equal opportunities like unfortunately a small number of businesses do. It’s about making life easier for anyone and everyone that needs it.”
The six-part series also features Becky Dann, a 25-year-old professional photographer from Cambridgeshire, who was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was four-years-old.
Becky, who visited with her friend Dean, is well-known for appearing in series 8 of Channel 4s The Undateables, and was very impressed by how well Blackpool caters for disabled people and loved the Paraorchestra event which Access Fylde Coast hosted at the Winter Gardens.
The series highlights best practice for businesses and also helps businesses to gain an insight into the barriers disabled people and their families face – whether that’s choosing where to stay, where to eat, where to visit.
And, for disabled people thinking of coming to stay in Blackpool, Fylde or Wyre, we hope it gives you a great snap shot of what these gems of the north west have to offer.
The first video in the series will be released in April.