Disability Access Community Conversations

On Thursday 29 February two new Community Conversations were held at Lancaster University to talk about Disability Access. 

Both sessions (held in the daytime and evening) were organised and facilitated by a new partnership chaired by Cllr Abi Mills (Lancaster City Council’s Disability Champion).

The partnership includes organisations from the VCFSE sector (including Lancaster District CVS, Neuro Drop-In, and RNIB), Lancaster City Council, the NHS, Lancaster University Management School and key individuals active in disability advocacy in our district.

The Conversations focussed transport, buildings, attitudes and environment, developing a set of headline insights, summarised below.

The two sessions were very well attended, and it was amazing to hear from such a diverse and interesting group of people – we would like to thank everyone for their engagement and contributions.
Cllr Abi Mills

  • Staff training and awareness 
  • Better advance communication about planned works and strikes on trains and buses.  
  • The need for more accessible taxis, and suggestions for specific improvements needed on bus and rail services in the district.  
  • Information about accessibility of places and relevant features / services 
  • Provision of accessible toilets 
  • Attentiveness from staff, designers, and business – being attentive to the needs of disabled customers.
  • Core contexts and spaces to consider in terms of accessibility:
    • pavements,
    • green spaces,
    • public toilets,
    • and lighting. 
  • The need for training or education alongside awareness raising in schools, organisations and workplaces.  
  • Disabled people need to be included and valued in conversations.  
  • Spaces for disabled people need to be recognised in society.  
  • A change to focus on the social model of disabilities, and ‘see the person, not the disability’.

What’s next for the partnership?

These Conversations were just the beginning of this project. The next step is to collect evidence which can be used campaign for change with networks in Lancaster that have power and make decisions (e.g. Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council, Lancaster and Morecambe BID, and Lancaster and Morecambe Chambers of Commerce among others).

It will take time to make a difference, but it’s great to feel we have made a start. 

The partnershup will be hosting more events, online and in-person, and will consider setting up a forum or network, to give a collective voice on the issues that need change.                           

Leighanne Higgins of Lancaster University Management School, has shared evidence from the meeting with NWRSN, a board that shares the experiences of disabled residents of the north west with government, focusing on policy and legal change. The next ministerial meeting in April 2024 will discuss the issue of transport and Leighanne has been invited to share our discussions with the group as evidence for the need for change and reform. 

If you would like to get involved in future meetings please sign up for the mailing list or indicate your interest in becoming part of a working group. Email Abi Mills at [email protected]