The UK’s leading Polio charity has called for action after recent research found more than two thirds of our nation’s top 100 visitor attractions are not fully wheelchair friendly. The British Polio Fellowship backed the research conducted by disability tourism charity Vitalise and said more needs to be done to ensure that diversity is at the heart of Britain’s tourism.
“We are living in the 21st century and the fact that so many leading tourist attractions can’t offer full accessibility for wheelchair users is concerning,” said Ted Hill MBE, CEO of The British Polio Fellowship. “We live in a nation that arguably puts more emphasis on diversity and equal opportunities than any in the world but these businesses clearly haven’t got the message. Many of our members living with the late effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) rely on accessibility and some venues are clearly not the attraction they think they are.”
The survey polled the top 100 tourist attractions in the UK, of which only a staggering 52 were willing to take part. Of those that did comply, 63% said they were not fully wheelchair accessible, a quarter of them had no disabled parking spaces and only 13% of the venues said all of their staff had received disability awareness training.
Speaking about the findings Ted Hill said: “It’s shocking really. There are over 11 million people in the UK with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability. The majority of these are of the type that affects mobility, that’s potentially a sixth of the population that can’t access all of the facilities at these venues.”
The British Polio Fellowship aims to support and empower 120,000 people in the UK living with the late effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome, many of whom are wheelchair reliant. In July, charity Ambassador and GB Paralympian, Anne Wafula-Strike teamed up with Virgin Trains wearing a dress made solely of train tickets to raise awareness of Polio, PPS and the needs of wheelchair users in general and Ted Hill explained how the charity continued to support wheelchair initiatives.
“Many of our members are wheelchair reliant or suffer with some loss of movement due to the late effects of Polio and PPS but this doesn’t mean they want to stay indoors,” said Ted. “Trips and holidays are a regular part of the social calendar of our charity and it’s important that we support our members who have accessibility issues and get behind initiatives that help improve accessibility and raise awareness for them and for all.”
As well as providing a wealth of information to members regarding booking accessible friendly holidays on their website, The British Polio Fellowship also has its own holiday home in Burnham-on-Sea which it rents out throughout the year to members. The charity has also backed a number of other studies relating to accessibility, including a current survey commissioned by The Association of Train Companies (ATOC) that aims at making train travel in Britain more accessible.
For more information about The British Polio Fellowship, visit www.britishpolio.org.uk