Camden’s inaccessible streets and services make me feel unwanted, says Mik


Blogs

Reported by Mik

Published on Thursday, April 29th, 2021

Camden’s inaccessible streets and services make me feel unwanted, says Mik


Blogs

Written by Mik

Published on Thursday, April 29th, 2021

It’s impossible to describe how unwanted and unwelcome you feel as you are reminded the things that make Camden globally famous aren’t really for you.

I like to go out on my handcycle to get some air and exercise.

I have to stick to the pavements because the roads are too dangerous and the cycle lanes are too narrow and poorly laid out.

As I wheel around I’m reminded that Camden is a part of London that is so inhospitable to wheelchair users like me. Shop after shop, cafe after cafe, restaurant after restaurant, bar after bar and club after club isn’t accessible to me just because I’m a wheelchair user.

Even those that are accessible at the entrance aren’t so good inside. Shop aisles are often so packed I can barely make my way around. Then there are the bars, restaurants, cafes and clubs with no accessible toilets. Oh, and let’s not forget the giant steps with no ramps!

It’s impossible to describe how unwanted and unwelcome you feel as you are reminded the things that make Camden globally famous aren’t really for you. Camden captures the Social Model of Disability but not in a good way. It proves that exclusion isn’t inherent but comes from outside, from the way society treats you differently.

As we come out of lockdown we won’t even be in the same excluded position we were in over a year ago. Things will be harder and we will be made to feel less welcome, less wanted.

The DDA (disability discrimination act) came into law in 1995 yet 26 years later Camden hadn’t really improved. Some areas have got worse. Camden Market used to be possible to get around but since it was redeveloped accessibility has worsened.

Rather than use the lockdown as a time to support change in the borough and help businesses to build in access while they were closed, we’ve seen a roll out of infrastructure that takes away more access from disabled people.

As we come out of lockdown we won’t even be in the same excluded position we were in over a year ago. Things will be harder and we will be made to feel less welcome, less wanted.

Sadly that’s what it feels like to be disabled in Camden in the 21st century.

Written by Mik


Best known as an award winning broadcaster, journalist and inclusive design expert, Mik Scarlet has lived in Camden for 20 years. Prior to moving here, he frequented the town thanks to it’s clubs and gig venues. He even met his wife Diane, who was born in Camden, at the Electric Ballroom. Mik is a full time wheelchair user, and is passionate about building an inclusive and accessible Camden for future generations.

Tags


Shop access street access