Paralympic legacy not felt in North Devon, says Barnstaple mum

Samia and Ann Galawest are asking businesses in North Devon to offer more disabled facilities. Samia and Ann Galawest are asking businesses in North Devon to offer more disabled facilities.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
12:28 PM

Mum’s campaign for better disabled facilities in North Devon comes as charity announces two-thirds of UK’s top attractions are not fully wheelchair accessible.

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A BARNSTAPLE mum is calling upon North Devon businesses to provide better disabled access and facilities for young people.

Ann Galawest’s daughter Samia, 19, suffered two strokes at a young age which have impaired her speech and vision and left her unable to walk without assistance.

“Samia has had swimming sessions with the Stroke Society, but this is mainly with elderly people,” said Ms Galawest.

“There is a real lack of facilities for disabled people – particularly young people – in this area.

“After the Paralympics we thought things would change with all the awareness raised, but they simply haven’t.

“Taking a disabled child abroad on holiday is very hard so I think the tourism businesses are missing a trick by not offering disabled access and facilities.

“Otherwise people like Samia end up feeling extremely isolated.”

This week, Vitalise, a charity offering holidays for disabled people, released a survey showing two-thirds of the UK’s top attractions were not fully wheelchair accessible.

The charity is calling for visitor attractions and other public venues to do more to make themselves accessible and improve information for people with disabilities.

Chris Simmonds, Vitalise’s chief executive, said: “Our amazing visitor attractions and natural wonders risk losing out on valuable income if they don’t take accessibility seriously – and this applies as much to the countryside and coastline as it does to the built environment.

“Our own research shows two-thirds of people with disabilities have decided against visiting tourist attractions because of a lack of clear information about how accessible they are.

“People with disabilities have an annual spending power estimated at £80billion, so it makes economic sense for our tourist venues to do more to attract and cater for disabled people.

“If not, they risk losing out on valuable income.”

What do you think about disabled facilities in North Devon? Email newsdesk@northdevongazette.co.uk

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