Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Positive discrimination…

It’s a subject that comes up a lot when people talk about minority groups and employment. It normally boils down to whether someone should get a job because of a particular skillset or because there is a quota in place. I believe forcing companies to recruit minorities is fine in the main because minorities (whether that be Blacks, Asians, LGBT or the disabled) have the same amount of talent but it’s much harder for them to progress in life compared to straight white able-bodied men. Minorities simply need a push up in the form of positive discrimination.

However, I want to speak about positive discrimination generally rather than focus on employment. What prompted me to write this post was when my friend asked me if I am treated more favourably in some situations because I am disabled? The answer is of course I am. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. For example, there is no way I would have been chosen to come out of the tunnel behind the players at the Emirates Stadium in 2013 if I was an able bodied supporter. Also, when I meet/have my photo taken with celebrities, I believe that most wouldn’t have given me the time of day if I wasn’t in a wheelchair.

So being disabled does have it’s perks but obviously I’d rather queue for hours and never meet celebrities than have Friedreich’s Ataxia. Whenever I am treated favourably because of the disability, I just think that I pulled the short straw in life so it’s about time my luck improved. The negative discrimination that I face on a daily basis definitely outweighs any positive discrimination. I wish being disabled was a game I could switch on and off so I only experienced positive discrimination but unfortunately it’s not. It’s probably an 80:20 split in favour of being negatively discriminated against (as you read about in this blog).

The point I’m making is next time you see a person in a wheelchair jumping a queue; remember at least you can walk.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The blame game…

A couple of weeks ago, I warned that Westminster Lodge (my local leisure centre where I go to the gym) would be the next establishment to feel the wrath of ‘Wheelchair Boy’. I had numerous complaints (which I had to write down so I did not forget) and Steve Cox, Everyone Active contract manager, took the time to hear me out and discuss the issues in full. I found it quite refreshing how he seemed to listen and take on board my comments but the proof will be in the pudding. It’s one thing e-mailing me a few days after the meeting to update me on how he proposes to resolve my problems but whether anything changes remains to be seen.

One of the problems I raised was that the disabled toilet outside the gym had been closed on and off since April 2014. I had already spoken to a few managers who gave me patronising and unsatisfactory answers. The General Manager, Lesley Garner, even implied that disabled people don’t matter and agreed that if an ordinary toilet was out of order, it would be fixed within a week. As you can imagine, I was incensed by this blatant show of disregard towards disabled customers and decided to go directly to the person in charge to see if his answer was different.

However, just like every company or establishment I have a complaint against, Steve Cox firmly shifted the blame away from Everyone Active. Firstly, the issue was that the builders were finding it difficult to get the correct tiles (ridiculous excuse) to fix the problem so it was the building contractors fault. Secondly, the Council were to blame as they hold the purse strings and should be the ones to hurry Willmott Dixon up. I have got the contact details of Stuart Foster at the Council so that I can try and apply pressure from my end. It’s just a shame that businesses tend to point the finger at each other like naughty children in a playground and it’s left for me to discover who the true culprit is.

My second complaint involved the turnstiles. Obviously, there is an electric gate that opens to let wheelchairs or parents with buggies through but I have waited five minutes before for a member of staff to notice me and press the button. That doesn’t sound very long but when you think that able-bodied people can just swipe to gain entry and don’t have to wait at all, the discrimination becomes clear. Yet again, the blame game was played, as it emerged that the manufacturers are at fault. Apparently, there is nothing they can do to improve the situation.  Why a different manufacturer cannot be used is beyond me?

These two examples of passing the buck plus the Herts Ad one (where they blame the Council for a listed building eventhough no one forced them to move into inaccessible offices) from last week just go to show that there is no accountability. Unfortunately, we live in an era where people do not take responsibility and will happily blame someone else.

Bye for now!