As businesses begin to reopen everyone is looking forward to returning to their favourite venues. However for those with access requirements there are often more things to consider.
We asked Jig Vaidya from local social enterprise, Access Rating, to tell us some of his top recommended spots…
This year the Oscars was the most diverse ever in terms of its nominees and an increased representation of disability in films such as the Netflix hit “Crip Camp” that explored the 70s hippie camp for disabled youths during the American disability rights movement. On the red carpet this year, we not only saw the famous faces of Hollywood’s elite but we also witnessed powered wheelchairs and a guide dog, which is truly groundbreaking to see yet well overdue. Another fantastic thing I saw for the first time ever was a wheelchair ramp to the stage which as a wheelchair user myself was a very proud moment and a sign that finally disabled people are being included in mainstream entertainment.
However, is this only for movies or are things actually changing in real everyday life for perceptions and acceptance of disabled people? As we finally feel we are approaching the end of this current pandemic, I am hoping that the disabled community will be considered more as businesses finally are able to re-open. When it comes to accessible everyday places many take it for granted without a second thought. As a disabled person in a wheelchair I struggle to find suitable places to go out and socialise with family and friends. This is why I teamed up with 2 of my fellow disabled friends from Leicester to set up a social enterprise called Access Rating where we have developed an app that enables users to submit disabled access ratings of venues to support the community to locate more accessible places around the UK.
Below is a review of 3 of my favourite wheelchair-accessible locations in Leicester……
The Queen Of Bradgate
Located at the top of High Street is this quirky pub with a great selection of craft beer, cocktails, and some very tasty food to choose from. In terms of disabled access, I have always found this place to be very good and it ticks all the boxes in terms of its disabled toilet, access to its small pub garden, floor space, and an added bonus that the pub invested in a ramp so wheelchair users can gain access to the raised cocktail bar and dining area which is a nice touch. There is not a lift to the upstairs bar but there is plenty of room on the ground floor, I would like this place to have an automatic door for ease of access but there always seems to be a friendly face around to assist. Disabled parking is available at the Highcross Shopping Centre which only costs £2.50 for an evening if entering after 5pm. If you like your beer cold and wheelchair accessible this is the place to be!
Located in the heart of Leicester’s cultural quarter, this restaurant serves contemporary Indian cuisine. In my opinion one of the best Indian restaurants in the city for wheelchair access, the dining tables are also suitable for someone in a wheelchair which believe me is very hard to find. This venue has a wheelchair-accessible toilet and a small amount of on-street disabled parking nearby but also a handy NCP car park across the road should the street parking not be available. The staff at this venue are always extremely friendly and helpful which is an added bonus.
The Old Horse
The Old Horse is a 19th Century coaching inn situated 10 minutes walk from the city centre. This pub has a ramp accessible entrance direct from the car park with a push button to activate the automatic door, once inside there is plenty of floor space and there is a large disabled toilet accessible via radar key which, if you don’t have your own, is available from staff. There is also an accessible entrance to the beer garden which staff can assist you to access. Don’t forget to input your car registration on entry to ensure your parking is free, the staff are always on hand to support you. Overall this is a very welcoming “wheelchair-accessible” pub!
As businesses start to open up again, I hope they will make every effort to ensure they are inclusive for the disabled community. It’s such a shame when businesses ignore the enjoyment of the disabled community and their spending power which is estimated at £249 billion in the UK alone. Making your business accessible is not as difficult as you might think. At Access Rating we offer disabled access audits and disability awareness training to businesses that would like to ensure their environment is accessible and the staff are educated to support the access needs of their customers.
We want to help put Leicester on the map as the UK’s most accessible city, so please get out in your local area and submit your very own disabled access ratings of venues on our app or if your business wants to work with us to drive a positive change to disabled access then please do get in touch with our team.
Words by Jig Vaidya. Find out more about Access Rating at www.accessrating.com.