Caithness Access Panel Report
31st December 2018
Caithness Access panel meets monthly In the Pulteney Centre in Wick on the last Wednesday of the month between 12 - 2pm. We are all volunteers and have a membership of over 20 who attend and also through our petition over 200 supporters of the group's aims.
We are funded by the Highland Council and the Scottish Disability Forum.
During the years we have worked on improving access into the public buildings through campaigning for disabled people and others who may have access problems such as mothers with prams. We have had many success stories including ramps being provided by both the Clydesdale and Bank of Scotland Wick and Thurso, disabled toilet improvements in various locations, trollies accessible for disabled in supermarket's and the creation of improved disabled parking spaces such as at the Co-op in Wick.
We also take part in grant and planning applications for the play parks that have been revamped in the County as they have been encouraged by their funders to ask about disabled children's equipment and paths suitable for wheelchairs what a wonderful job the committees of these playparks have made to children's life’s in the area. Our letter of support helps them obtain their funding and it is great that funders are making groups think about disabled children in their plans.
We try to educate people from a young age to think about what it is like to be disabled with that in mind we have had awareness days in both Wick high school where we had over 200 pupils and Lybster and Dunbeath primary schools where over 70 youngsters enjoyed the experience. The challenges of everyday life can be difficult if you suffer from a range of disabilities so through a hands on approach we let the pupils find out first hand some of the issues through apparatus provided by Hearing and Sight care, Chest Heart and Stroke and some of our volunteers. Showing the youngsters how disabled aids help people get on with life can be fun and educates the young people taking part. The JOHN O GROAT JOURNAL had many photos of our visits at the time. We are now working with Thurso High, Watten and Thrumster primary schools and we welcome any other schools who wish us to visit to get in contact. We also welcome any groups representing people with disabilities to come to our meetings.
We are campaigning for disabled parking in the towns of Wick and Thurso, before people park in all the disabled spaces we wish they would give some thought for people with disabilities who need the extra space so they can open the door wide, manoeuvre a body which does not work the same as those who are not disabled, get wheelchair or aids out or help a friend get into their wheelchair all impossible when another car is parked right beside you! There is a lack of awareness that Blue Badges are paid for and then the parking is not accessible due to misuse. I got an earful from a young man in the market square on Friday when I pointed out he was in a disabled space.
Out of 5 cars Parked in disabled spaces only I had blue badge. No one else should be parked in the square except disabled badge holder cars as per the sign at the Crown Bar. We have campaigned to the council for a larger sign to make people aware of this and will continue to do so. Unfortunately this is not monitored due to lack of traffic wardens and we hope this will improve shortly. We will continue to campaign on these issues but meantime please think about disabled people before you park. You are welcome to attend our AGM on the 31st but please contact me and let me know you will be attending.
Chair of Caithness Disabled Access Panel