‘A contactless card in someone else’s hand has replaced my presence at the bar’

14 December 2018

Our latest research has found more than 8 in 10 disabled people face difficulties in pubs and bars. Grace tells us about her experience.

Grace McGowanMy name is Grace McGowan, I'm 26-years-old and I injured my Spinal cord five years ago leaving me in a wheelchair for life.  

I have recently moved to Dorchester in Dorset which is a beautiful, old historic town. It’s great to live there, but can also be a struggle to navigate as a wheelchair user, especially in older buildings. 

The spontaneity of going out has disappeared

I have always been social and love going out and about, meeting friends in pubs and clubs.

However, since being in my wheelchair, the spontaneity of going out has disappeared. It now takes meticulous planning and fantastic friends and family!

Finding a place that ticks all the boxes

It's difficult to find a place that ticks all the boxes needed to have a stress-free night.

I’ve found clubs are out the question as dancing is not the same and can be quite intimidating when sitting with people dancing around me.

Although, people do help me improve my reflexes as I try and catch them as they trip over me! 

Mainly enjoy pub nights

So, I mainly enjoy pubs nights, which can either be a success or a bit of a palaver depending on the accessibility and facilities available.

It's a rarity and relief finding an easy to access pub which presents no worries. Too often I face steps and heavy entrance doors, carpets, inaccessible toilets and high bars which are impossible to be seen over.

A contactless card in someone else’s hand has replaced my presence 

It’d be nice to buy my friends a round and not have to rely on them to attract the bartender’s attention.

However, especially with the busy period commencing, the chances are drastically slimming and having a contactless card in someone else’s hand has replaced my presence at the bar.

I struggle finding the confidence to go somewhere new for the first time, and friends and family help me massively by always considering me and the access via the wheelchair. 

Makes me feel like I’ve put people out

It can make me feel like I’ve put people out sometimes as where is best for me isn’t necessarily the most popular place or where everyone wants to go. Not that anyone has ever said that, it’s just something I consider sometimes.

I think that lower bars, ramps, automated doors and ensuring accessible toilets are big enough and universally accessible would help to relieve some stress that many people encounter when trying to plan a night out, after all, we all enjoy getting together and having fun so let’s do all we can to ensure everyone can. 

Grace McGowan is a Leonard Cheshire supporter.

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