Camden Disability Action’s Leadership Programme supports Disabled people to run projects on issues that are important them. By taking the lead on projects that make a real difference to Disabled people’s lives, we build our confidence and show people what we can do.
When I joined the programme, I decided my project would be about making Camden venues more accessible for me and others. This is important to me because I am a wheelchair user and I like socialising with friends just like anybody else.
The first place I wanted to work on was a local pub called the Colonel Fawcett as they do the best roast dinners ever! Up until then it had been hard for me to get into the pub because my family had to lift my wheelchair up a step. Once I was in there, I noticed that they had an accessible toilet, but no ramp to get into the building! This didn’t make an ounce of sense – why would you have an accessible toilet in the building when you can’t get in the building itself? I was determined to find out why!
I told them I loved their roast dinners but couldn’t understand why they had an accessible toilet and no ramp.
I started by emailing them politely in November 2020 – I told them I loved their roast dinners but couldn’t understand why they had an accessible toilet and no ramp. I didn’t hear back so sent three more emails and contacted them on Facebook.
Eventually I heard back in January 2021, when they told me they were ‘thinking about’ getting a ramp and that my email had gone into the wrong inbox. They said they were sorry for not replying sooner. I thought it was a bit weird – how did it go into the wrong inbox?! That seemed a bit fishy to me.
In the email I sent back, I provided them with a link to a website that sells affordable ramps and I explained the benefits of having a ramp, which would include me and my family getting in there and spending about £1000 a year! I still didn’t hear back from them.
The next step was for me to go there in person, which I felt nervous about. I did some preparation in advance, thinking about the questions I was going to ask them. I was joined on the day by Oliver, another leader on the programme, Garry who works on the Leadership Programme, and my support worker.
We met on a summer’s day and had a drink on the tables outside. Oliver enjoyed a plate of their fish and chips! We talked about our strategy and how we were going to approach the person working there. Oliver went inside and asked if we could have a chat with them about access, and the manager said he would come out to speak with us. When he came out, we asked him some questions about the fact that there was an accessible toilet but no ramp. He went off then and we thought he was serving some customers, but then he came back and produced a ramp!
We thought he was serving some customers, but then he came back and produced a ramp!
I was absolutely over the moon. I think I screamed! I went into the pub to check how accessible it was and how easy it was to get into the garden at the back – funnily enough there were no steps into the garden. I was checking if certain areas were wide enough, giving it the whole shebang! Once I was inside, I found it was really accessible for my chair although the hallway into the garden might be a bit narrow for other chairs.
I was absolutely over the moon. I think I screamed!
I texted Alex, the coach on the Leadership Programme, and she put it on our programme Whatsapp group, and everyone congratulated me! I felt delighted for the rest of the day. I even felt a bit of a comedown the following day!
I’ve been back twice since then with friends and family – including the day after my birthday – and have been able to get in easily. I’m yet to get back there for a roast, but I will one day!
It’s been really good fun tackling this issue with Oliver; he’s passionate about access and gets straight in there talking to people, and that’s really helped to boost my confidence. We’ve already planned our next visit to another pub in Camden – hopefully we’ll have another positive experience to report!