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County councillor backs bid to improve facilities for people with disabilities

Colin Savage, Chair of the Learning Disability Partnership Board and Cllr Matthew Ellis with Lee Turner and Mel Jasper from Mencap.

Colin Savage, Chair of the Learning Disability Partnership Board and Cllr Matthew Ellis with Lee Turner and Mel Jasper from Mencap.

A Staffordshire County Councillor is backing a campaign to create better facilities for people with disabilities.

Cllr Matthew Ellis (Cons, Lichfield Rural East) is lending his support to the Mencap initiative to have at least one Changing Places facility in each district to cater for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well as other serious impairments such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis or a brain injury.

The Cabinet Member for Adults and Wellbeing, confirmed he would be writing to district and borough council leaders to inform them of the Changing Places campaign.

He added:

“After meeting with Mencap members it became much clearer to me the severe difficulties and demolition of dignity not having these facilities means. I am more than happy to give my support to this important campaign. We want to give people greater independence, choice and control over how they live their lives and being able to go into town to meet with others or to do some shopping is something that we should all be able to do. Withough Changing Places facilities, that is very difficult to do.”

Mel Jasper from Mencap added:

“At the moment carers often have to lie the person they care for on the floor of a disabled toilet to attend to their personal care needs. This is degrading for the person they care for and puts many people off travelling into town.”

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  1. FullTimeCareer

    4th July, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Is there a nice place in town to eat at lunch time that caters for a wheel chair? I do know what the law states about access but i live in the real world!

  2. JennyP

    5th July, 2010 at 10:08 am

    There are a few places that aren’t bad for access. The ramp up to the coffee shop near the cathedral is a bit tough-going, but the food is worth the effort.

    Be warned, however, if you use a mobility scooter you might want to put on a disguise There are some people in Lichfield who think its funny to take secret photos of you as you are trying to get around and then post them online with idiotic comments.

  3. Rachel

    5th July, 2010 at 11:42 am

    As Jenny says if you use a mobility scooter in Lichfield be prepared to have your photo taken unawares, posted on this public Facebook group and to be discussed, probably laughed at, by it’s members

    By the way this group was created by an officer from the Lichfield Round Table and it’s admins include the Press Officer for the Lichfield Round Table and one of Lichfield Blog’s own team.

    The comments there demonstrate a total lack of awareness, regard or respect for those with mobility problems in Lichfield.

    I applaude the support of Cllr Matthew Ellis for the Mencap initiative to provide adaquate changing facilities.

    Speaking as someone who is disabled in ways that are not always easy to see, I hope this story is more indicative of local attitudes to disability in the area than the P.L.U.M.S. group on Facebook.

  4. FullTimeCareer

    5th July, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I did try to get along the pavement in the close – but they have open drains across pavement – to rough to use.
    Then if you use the road there is no way to get out of the close unless you go back to bird st!!

  5. JennyP

    5th July, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Yes, Lichfield isn’t the most enlightened place when it comes to wheelchair users.

  6. Rachel

    5th July, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    From memory there’s ok access into the Heritage Centre and I think the coffee shop is level access from there and has a bit more space to manouvre than a lot of places in Lichfield. But I haven’t actually attempted to use it (get to the counter and so on) so couldn’t swear on it’s access.

    I really like the Cathedral Coffee Shop even if non wheelchair users seem to view it as an inconvienance when I’ve used the ramp. But it’s a bit of a narrow ramp and a bit awkward to get through the doors. Once you’re in it’s pretty good though. Great spot and lovely food. Shame the drains are up making access so difficult.

  7. Ross

    5th July, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Just to clarify – the membership of any Facebook groups by anyone linked to The Lichfield Blog is a personal matter for them and does not indicate an endorsement or otherwise by this website.

  8. JennyP

    5th July, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I do welcome this initiative, but can’t help thinking its a bit superficial.

    Generally those of us with disabilities have a real struggle in Lichfield – whether it is to do with facilities or the attitudes of others. I work part-time and spend a couple of days a week studying in Lichfield and the ignorance of people here can be shocking.

  9. Richard

    5th July, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Just to clarify, Lichfield does have some residents who have a sense of humour.

  10. JennyP

    6th July, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Aha, someone bit.

    At least this Mencap initiative will make it easier for the Facebook group to find people to photograph – just look out for those lovely big blue signs and hang around for a bit, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Maybe you could even try and sneak a few photos of the other disability aids inside too.
    I’m not sure that is what Cllr Matthew Ellis had in mind when he agreed to help publicise this scheme, but don’t let that discourage you.

    I should point out I won’t make it so easy for you to photograph me. I sometimes self-propel (use a wheelchair), sometimes I use a scooter if I’m struggling and it has even been known for me to use sticks and walk a little while – but that is quite rare. I would suggest you avoid pointing a camera at me if my OH or friends are with me, they have even less of a sense of humour about such things than I do.

    I travel a lot for work around the Midlands and the North-West and encounter problems here and there. But Lichfield really tops the list of difficult places – mainly because of a minority of the people who live here.


    PS: Just to clarify – some people often mistake ignorance for humour.

  11. JennyP

    6th July, 2010 at 9:27 am

    The FB group seems to have edited a lot of the wallposts – creating space for a new collection of offensive photos probably.

  12. Richard

    6th July, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    You will find that nobody who has posted anything on the FB group has done so with any intention of offending anybody. There are clearly some individuals who, for whatever reason, are unable to see the funny side. Personally, I would have thought that if as you say, people are ignorant, any kind of publicity for motorised scooters would be beneficial in increasing awareness. However, it seems that you would prefer a form of on-line bullying, to what end I really don’t know.

    It is disappointing that you have taken the time to type derogatory and unconstructive remarks about individuals rather than spend that time contacting the individuals concerned and expressing your feelings.

    Communication is important in increasing people’s awareness and I for one find it quite ignorant not to offer someone the opportunity of addressing your concerns before commenting on them as individuals publicly on an open forum.

    As many of the pictures which can be removed have now been removed. This could have been achieved via a simple email.

    On a serious note, if you would like to make a presentation on the benefits of motor scooters with a view to improving awareness and eliminating ignorance, please let me know.

  13. JennyP

    6th July, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    Richard: Aw bless.

  14. JennyP

    6th July, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    (really sorry – pressed send too soon, curse my clumsy disabled fingers)

    Richard: Aw bless. So posting photographs of people on-line without their knowledge or permission and adding mocking or snide comments isn’t online bullying then?

  15. Nedge

    6th July, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Not wanting to wade into this argument (as I’m not one of the involved parties).
    I do just have to point out that while you are in a public place, there are very few restrictions on you being photographed. Certainly the activity of this group may be viewed as being “ignorant” – there’s definitely no law against it, and from what I can see, there’s the spirit of humour in the group.

    I can understand why you would take offence though.