We’re pleased to welcome volunteers Olivia and Kirsty to York Disability Rights Forum!
Olivia has recently graduated with a degree in Criminology at Anglia Ruskin University and is aiming to do an MA in International Criminology in autumn 2022.
OIivia and Kirsty are working with York Disability Rights Forum on a disability hate crime project. They are looking for people to talk to them about their experiences. If you are willing to share your story in a safe space, please contact Olivia by email or ring our voicemail on 01904 326781 leaving your contact details and Olivia or Kirsty will get in touch with you. This project is aimed at raising awareness for Disability Hate Crime and we appreciate any help. Thank you.
And now on to Olivia’s first blog post!
When two ideals collide…
In an ideal world everybody would be considered when a council or the government makes any changes. This could be policy or changing accessibility to a beautiful historic city such as York. In recent times the city has decided that they want to reduce access to the city centre by extending their ‘Footstreets’ scheme. Their aim was to create a safer and more attractive city and to reduce inner city pollution. It was also part of the Council’s response to Covid-19, it was believed that the scheme would boost York’s local economy. This restriction is during set hours and in some cases, traffic isn’t allowed into the city at all. This concept on the front of it sounds like a great strive towards creating a safer and cleaner York and to reduce the effects of global warming. Issues that are
currently affecting parts of the world more than others.
Doesn’t seem to have any cons, right? Wrong! Before starting as a volunteer for York Human Rights City Network and York Disability Rights Forum I would have said the initiative is purely beneficial for all residents of York. As somebody who has never had to consider accessibility, I was ignorant to these factors and my time as a volunteer has helped me to realise this. I am now more aware and have become frustrated by this scheme: a scheme that discriminates against its own residents that need to use transportation whether it be via taxi or their own car due to disability. These individuals will not be able to use their Blue Badges to gain access into the city. This would cut off complete access to York causing anxiety and social isolation.
Disabled citizens and councillors have even been isolated from council meetings on the topic, on the grounds that it will be prejudicial for them to attend as they are themselves blue badge holders and would benefit from the meeting. Following protest and a social media frenzy the issue was trending very quickly and many had their own take on the situation, and they were eventually allowed to take part. Most people took the view that when a council meeting is conducted, the individuals that the meeting concerns should be the main people invited. The two councillors that were discriminated against rightfully commented would the council have excluded a woman from a women’s rights issue? Or would a person of colour be advised to not take part in a debate on racism? The answer to this would be no, they would include their opinion because the council would welcome their inclusion and see it as a benefit. A benefit from speaking from personal experience. It seems that often people don’t consider disabled people as the primary voice to listen to on disability rights issues.
Disabled people should not have to ask to have access to York, it should be a fundamental right that all individuals have access to equal opportunities.
Visit York has information about accessibility and the city on their website. I found it very interesting that most of these offers were in regards to transport around the city, not in the city, such as Dial and Ride. Even though York offers some accessibility support options the council are initiating a move that will permanently prevent disabled people from accessing certain areas of York. It will be interesting to see the steps that City of York Council take on this issue in the upcoming future and their consideration of all people.
I would also like to say that volunteering for York Human Rights City Network and York Disability Rights Forum has opened my mind to lots of human rights issues and I am constantly learning and thinking about how to make the world a better place. I highly recommend anybody to get involved with both organisations.
To get involved, or to volunteer with us, please get in touch!