‘It’s like nobody really cares’, that is the view of one mum who has spoken about the challenges faced by young people with disabilities.
Sarah Boote-Cook, whose 18-year-old daughter has profound learning disabilities as a result of the Angelman syndrome, has stated the town could do more.
She said: “Life is challenging enough and locally I find there is very little to help this situation.
“As a parent I try continuously to give her an as normal and fulfilling life but the simple things are missing in our town.
“We don’t even have a proper changing room. I have been offered baby change but I actually can’t fit an 18-year-old on the changing mat.
“The other option is laying her on the floor of a public toilet, ewwww NO.”
“If you mention a child with a disability everyone seems sympathetic but overnight they become an adult and it’s like nobody really cares.”
In addition to the changing facilities, Sarah said the lack of a disabled or wheelchair swing in the town’s parks is also an oversight.
Sarah’s comments come after a disabled teenager was barred from a Bognor Butlin’s show with Mr Tumble for being ‘too old’, as reported last week, which she states highlights the issues faced.
“Although in an 18-year-old’s body, Gabby loves swings and Mr Tumble and all things usually associated with a small pre schooler, however, these are not available to her.
“The things I have mentioned should be par for the course but they are not given a second thought by the people that could do something about them.”
She added: “There are so many things Gabby is able to do given the right facility. Society disables young people like her by making it almost impossible to achieve things that everyone else takes for granted.”
The Regis Centre’s Hazel Latus said there is demand for such services. Speaking about the relaxed performance of Aladdin, on December 16, she said: “So far it has been greatly appreciated and very successful.”
Town Council response
A Bognor Town Council spokesman said many of the facilities fall under the district council’s remit but that it is ‘always keen to listen to the views and concerns of residents and visitors to the town’.
They added the council ‘actively seeks ways in which to engage with our community – an initiative that is promoted, for example, by way of councillor surgeries.’
“Members of the public are also invited to participate in open forum discussions at the town council’s community engagement and environment committee meetings.”
These platforms were highlighted as enabling ‘direct questions or comments’, such as those generated by the Butlin’s story, to be raised with the committee, which may take the matter forward as an agenda item at future meeting.
See www.bognorregis.gov.uk for upcoming dates of the committee meeting.
District council response
Arun District Council has stated it is ‘keen to create an inclusive environment’ and ‘positively address any issues brought about by this diversity’.
In response to the call for Bognor to become more disability friendly (above), it acknowledged it has a ‘duty’ to ensure accessiblity and highlighted facilities planned for Littlehampton’s new swimming pool.
It added: “We provide toilets for people with disabilities and a number of our playparks are equipped with accessible equipment.”
Refering to the current refurbishment project for Bognor’s play areas, it stated it is ‘inviting bids from providers to enable us to expand facilities for disabled users’.
It assured that facilities are regularly reviewed ‘to ensure they meet the required criteria for disability access and provision’ and that any ‘constructive feedback from the public’ is taken ‘seriously’ as part of the process.
As part of its ‘commitment to creating an environment of equality both in treatment and opportunity’, the council went on to highlight its work with the national body, DisabledGo, which provides detailed accessibility information for venues such as restaurants, libraries, council buildings and tourist destinations. It added more information can be found at www.arun.gov.uk/equality
What do you think, does Bognor town have enough to cater for people with additional needs? Email news@Bognor.co.uk