Camden is still tricky to get around for wheelchair users and knowing this makes me feel anxious about going out to do my day-to-day activities. I try to plan ahead to make the journeys smoother, but they are still a real challenge. If I have appointments, I try to leave extra early because the long waits for a bus with space for me can make me really late for the meetings.
It also helps if I know the area well so I am aware of where the dropped curbs are. If I don’t have a dropped curb available to me, I sometimes have to stay on the road and mix it up with the cars and lorries as I cannot get back on the pavement.
My new chair has been struggling with the potholes lately, which scares me.
To make things even worse, I have noticed that in the last few months, I have seen way more potholes and cracks on Camden’s roads and pavements. The ones I have been having the most significant issues with are on James Town road near the café Nero and in Camden High street.
I want to highlight how these holes impact on me.
About a year ago, I got a sturdy new wheelchair to help me absorb the shock of the bumps and holes I ride over, which can hurt, especially when I run into 10 in a row!
But although this has helped me enjoy exploring my community more, even my new chair has been struggling with the potholes lately, which scares me. My wheelchair is really heavy, and if it toppled over, I would be very hurt and unable to get up.
I have noticed that worrying about this has added to my anxiety about leaving the house, which takes away my enjoyment of my independence in my everyday life.
On days when my anxiety is worse, all these barriers can be too challenging to face and it feels too much to leave the house. This means I miss essential appointments and my day-to-day life in general is affected.
On days when my anxiety is worse, all these barriers can be too challenging to face and it feels too much to leave the house.
We often talk about the practical side of having inaccessible of roads, pavements and shops, but I have been reflecting on how this affects my mental health and my stress levels too. I need to be an excellent organiser just to simply leave my home, and sometimes I can’t keep up!
Camden Council really needs to look into the potholes and other access issues!
On the positive side, I feel uplifted when I see more accessible things in our community. I have recently found that the local Owl book shop in Kentish Town has now been made more spacious, allowing me freedom to explore and relax at the same time! Well done, Owl Bookshop!
CDA asked he Owl bookshop to comment on the changes they made.
Owl bookshop manager Gary McLaren said: “The renovation of the Owl bookshop was carried out to create a more spacious and pleasant environment for our customers. Although the changes were not aimed at catering for the needs of any particular sub-section of the population, we are delighted to hear from CDA that our new layout is easier to negotiate for people who use wheelchairs and we are always open to making adjustments to accommodate disabled people.”