Aspirations and Challenges

People with disabilities, service providers and campaigning groups gathered at an event organised by Access for All and funded by South Somerset District Council, to share experiences and ideas on making communities more inclusive.

‘Aspirations and Challenges’ was organised by Access for All and funded by South Somerset District Council and took place on 26 January 2016.

Aspirations event Group Gateway

Participants at the event at The Gateway in Yeovil heard from Mike Rowsell, who spoke powerfully about the challenges of his everyday life including the disappointment of being unable to access his room at a local hotel for his sister’s wedding. Although he had been told the venue was fully accessible, on arrival he had found that he could not reach the bedroom, bathroom or toilet because doors were too narrow to accommodate his wheelchair.

Ron Homer, from the Yeovil Visually Impaired Bowls Club, who has achieved national and international success, proudly shared his gold medal achieved at the Disabled Bowls World Championships in New Zealand last year.

Representatives of SARI – Stand against Racism and Inequality – spoke about recognising, reporting and stopping disability hate crime, mate crime and online bullying and a speaker from Somerset Libraries described the free, online services and support now available via the Libraries.

The lunch break gave the opportunity for networking and for visiting stalls provided by the RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss, South Somerset MIND and Somerset YouCanDo.  Information and advice was available on housing, welfare benefits and support with appeals, and Careline, the emergency alarm service for people at home, provided by South Somerset District Council.

District Councillor Jo Roundell Greene, SSDC Portfolio Holder for Equalities and Diversity and Deputy Leader of the Council, said: “Listening to the experiences of people with disabilities is central to making South Somerset a place where people can live, work and enjoy life equally and unrestrained by physical barriers or prejudice. I am thankful to everyone who spoke about their experiences today and hope we can build on this event, working together to achieve the changes that are needed.

45 people attended Aspirations and Challenges including local Councillors from all political parties.