This time last year I had to go for my universal credit interview and took the opportunity to see what it would be like getting around Hull City Centre in a wheelchair.
The only disabled parking available near Britannia House is down Spring Street meaning once parked up we had to walk around to the front of the building.
Now, most of the time my only wheelchair pusher is my 82-year-old Mum, which isn’t ideal as she doesn’t really have the strength to push me, I know I am not light. This doesn’t take away how thankful I am of her when she can.
It was slightly uphill and the paving was very uneven, which means even the slightest movement you get jerked against the slabs.
It was helpful to see there was ramp access available at Britannia House, but no automatic door.
It was though all on one level when I entered the area I needed to be and a chair was moved out of the way so I could get in with my wheelchair.
When I left a security guard held the door open for me to set off and ride back to the car. Another bumpy ride sadly.
As we were in town I wanted to go to Debenhams so set off to find somewhere to park.
Being unable to park outside Debenhams I ended up parking on a side street, which for able people would have been a walk across the road into the doors at Debenhams.
But no, not for a wheelchair user, for a start when we parked there wasn’t a dropped kerb, so we had to walk to find one, my Mum trying her best to push me, but what with paving slabs stuck in the air and uneven paving I was being jerked about all over, so decided I would self-propel.
Once we got to the main road, there wasn’t a dropped kerb, so I had to go back on myself to get to where I needed to be, only to find the one drop kerb there was, was all broken up which made it very difficult to get onto the pavement.
Eventually, I managed to get onto the pavement and self-propel myself to the doors of Debenhams, yeah automatic doors which I managed to get through, but by this time I was absolutely shattered and just wanted to go home.
But no I needed to buy a birthday present so around we went, thankfully I found a present very quickly and made my way towards to the Clinique counter, bought a few bits from there but couldn’t face trying to get across the store to the lifts and then back across the other side of the store to the restaurant so decided we would eat elsewhere.
Off I set once again to the doors and what I thought was a lovely gentleman rushes in front of me to open the doors for me, but alas no, he was rushing to get in front of me because I was in his way and just as I set off to get through the doors they closed in front of me. Gee thanks, pal.
Thankfully two lovely ladies where at the other side and they opened the doors for me and I propelled my way onto the street, back to the bloody awful pavements of Hull.
The Coffee House
Next door to Debenhams is a café The Coffee House that in my younger days going into town with Mum or Grandma we would call in for a tea cake and a cup of tea, so I thought we would go in there instead.
Here we go, they had a slope and proudly displayed a disabled-friendly sign, but the slope was broken up with a big ridge at the top in the doorway which able people would just step over and then doors that opened towards you of which both would have to be opened to get the chair through, not sure who gave this cafe it’s disabled-friendly status.
Finally, through the doors and into a seat, ordered some food and asked to use the toilet, yes, they had one which was down a passageway at the side of the building, haha best not then thanks.
The food was ok, but I was needing the loo so needed to get home.
So after my disappointing day in Hull City Centre, I set off home, this time I couldn’t face the broken paving stones and didn’t have the energy to self propel myself back to the car so using my chair as a walker I pushed it back to the car.
As we were going to a garden centre today I asked my Mum if it was accessible and do you know what, she didn’t know, because she didn’t need to know.
This is the problem disabled people come up against all the time when planners are planning when architects are putting drawings together when project managers are looking at the end results. Unless you are a regular wheelchair user you don’t look for these issues." I know this as I have been that project manager who managed a build to disability regulations and I didn't either, I did what had to be done to keep within the law." Click To Tweet
As a way forward, even if you are just setting up roadworks, which I mentioned on this post in June last year and subsequently my article with the Hull Daily Mail, ask a disabled person how it is going to affect them.
You will see from the response I got from Hull City Council at that time, they are improving things, but in all honesty that doesn’t help disabled people at this moment in time, what are we supposed to do, just stay away until all the work is finished? No why should we?
Councils and anyone who is managing new builds should involve local disabled people, even if it’s just a meeting to discuss what they plan to do and how it will affect us, then they can see it through our eyes.I often use a common example, "it is all well and good you having a ramp but if the door then opens towards me, you have defeated the object." Click To Tweet
Tell me your thoughts on your city centre experience and please share.