“IF SOMEWHERE ISN’T IMMEDIATELY ACCESSIBLE, I WILL AVOID IT” – Fylde coast mum gives her verdict on ACCESSIBILITY

Offering a warm welcome by making small changes to your business doesn’t just make a big difference to tourists – it makes a huge difference for people who live across the Fylde Coast too.

From local people living with disability to an aging population, you can open up your business to thousands who live in the area in which you trade.

Carolyn, from Lytham St Annes, was able bodied until May 2009 when she had a horse-riding accident, broke her back and was paralysed, loosing the use of her legs and became a wheelchair user.

Carolyn’s accident in 2009 which left her paralysed

The mother-of-two, says: “As a young mum with two children I was always looking for ways that I could do activities as a wheelchair user and take my children.

“I was lucky to earn a place on the GB paracycling team, which kept me active, but I wanted to go to places in day-to-day life that were accessible to me and my family – I don’t want to ask for help.

“If somewhere isn’t immediately accessible, so if I have to wait for a ramp, then I will avoid it as it can be embarrassing.”

From pubs with only high tables or high bars, it means that Carolyn cannot have the same experience as able-bodied people when she is out with friends, if the business has not made some adaptions.

In our video series, Carolyn showed Invictus Games gold medallist and amputee Mike Goody around Lytham St Annes and Blackpool.

Carolyn and Mike at JAVA in Lytham St Annes

She was happy to take him to restaurant JAVA, a place she had not been able to access due to a small step, until the businesses installed a permanent ramp.

“The area is actually really good for accessibility and restaurants have picked up on the need to be accessible. It makes a big difference if you are going out for a meal with family or with friends. “

She also put Mike, a former RAF gunner who lost his leg while serving in Afghanistan, through his paces at Crossfit in Blackpool.

Mike admits he hates gyms which are full of mirrors and left the Blackpool gym having had a great experience.

Carolyn and Mike at JAVA in Lytham St Annes

From restaurants, to theatres, bars and even gyms, it makes such a difference to both tourists and locals if businesses make steps to become as accessible as they can. And, as Carolyn says, there has been a great movement towards accessibility across the Fylde Coast.

Access Fylde Coast has helped more than 500 businesses across the district to become more accessible – and often without it costing a fortune. A ramp, such as the one at JAVA makes a huge difference and if disabled people can access your business and have a good experience, just like Carolyn , they will return again and again.

For a FREE access guide or FREE disability awareness training, email hello@disabilityfirst.org

Friday May 15th is Spinal Injury Awareness Day.

It is all about raising awareness and understanding of the devastating and life-changing impact and effect of spinal cord injuries, which happen to people of all ages.

You can find out more about Spinal Injury awareness day here

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