Bid to make Ripon businesses more disability friendly
Last updated Feb 22, 2024

Ripon has the opportunity to follow in Chester’s footsteps and become recognised for its accessibility to all people.

That’s the aim of Ripon Disability Forum, which will launch its Access Ambassadors programme in the city on Monday evening at the Ripon Inn (7pm-8pm)

The event, which will be attended by a number of Ripon businesses, aims to put access issues at the top of the agenda by promoting good practice.

Forum trustee Jeremy Dunford told the Stray Ferret:

“Ripon, as an ancient city, is not dissimilar to Chester, whose roots go back to Roman times and it has devised a wide-ranging strategy that ensures that its shops, public buildings, market and visitor attractions, can be enjoyed by as many people as possible,

“They  were the first British city to be awarded a European Access City Award and set a high standard for others to emulate.”

He added:

“This helps people, like myself, who have limited mobility, along with those who have sight impairment, parents who have children in prams and pushchairs and others.

“It also makes economic sense, because businesses known to offer good accessibility will be able to promote that and take a greater slice of the purple pound (disposable income of people with disabilities). Currently the national value of this is estimated at £274 billion per annum.”

To start the initiative, the forum is working in partnership with Ripon Business Improvement District and teaming up with local businesses who already exhibit one or more good accessible features.

The objective is to promote, through all media channels, existing good practice and then work with the ambassador businesses to find other improvement measures that are practical and affordable.

The forum recognises not all venues can physically accommodate wheelchairs but they can still be accessible to people with other disabilities, for instance by giving them access to employment opportunities.

A leading example of this is Sarita McDermott’s Realite Indian tea room in North Street where she has provided employment for people with disabilities for more than eight years,

She said:

“I will be at Ripon Inn on Monday evening along with other businesses in the city because access in all its forms, from being able to get into a building, to shop, eat, take exercise or be entertained is a fundamental right, as is the right to gain access to employment, which can be life changing for some people,”

This is certainly the case for 45-year-old Martin Grainger and 18-year-old Lewis Hampton, who are popular with tea room customers.

Martin said:

“Working for Reality has been great for me, I like serving people and asking if they have enjoyed their drink or delicious piece of cake that Sarita has baked.”

Lewis added:

“I’ve been working here for 18 months and it has made me feel more confident, because the customers are very nice and ask me how I’m getting on.”

Places are still available for Monday’s event and any business wishing to attend should contact [email protected]

Picture: Sarita McDermott is pictured at Realitea with her colleagues Martin Grainger (right) and Lewis Hampton.


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