Tuesday, 8 January 2008

La Mimosa - the sweet smell of Success

Due to some technical difficulties, we did not manage to post an account of our awards ceremony, so this is a 'catch-up post ' to start 2008.

The overall winner chosen by our independent judge (the access officer of Bedford Council) was in fact La Mimosa restaurant.
Congratulations to them!

The photo shows Fernandez receiving the award from Mayor Jenny Bailey.

Another business on the short list received a special award for services to tourism in Cambridge because they have been nominated by overseas visitors as well as local residents every year for the last three years of TW2B.

This popular local firm is Granta Punt and Canoe Hire, where Lawrence Austin's family firm continues to give exceptional service to its customers and ensures that many disabled people go home with particularly happy memories of their visit to Cambridge.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Shortlist announced for 2007 Awards

We are delighted to announce that we now have a shortlist for The Way To Be Awards 2007. The details of their nominations will be sent to the independent judge who will choose the overall winner

The shortlist is:

Granta Punt and Canoe Hire, Newnham

Lakeland, Sidney Street

La Mimosa restaurant, Thompsons Lane

Lion Yard Car Park Attendants

Papworth Brownie Guides

Many thanks to everybody who sent in a nomination this year - they made wonderful reading.

Congratulations to everyone who was nominated - you have all made Cambridge a better place to live and work.

We look forward to seeing all the participants at the award ceremony, which will be hosted by Councillor Jenny Bailey (photo right), the Mayor of Cambridge.

The overall winner will be announced at the award ceremony in the Foyer of the Cambridge Corn Exchange on November 21st 4.30- 6.00pm.

The presentations will be made by Ruth Everard, who will be back in her home town of Cambridge to talk to us, despite the fact that the innovative wheelchairs designed by her engineer father which took her to Sawston Village College and Long Road Sixth Form College have lead her astray to the City of London via a law degree at Oxford University. (sorry about that, but the truth must be told. Ed)

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Treasures of Pleasure and Leisure in Cambridge thanks to the University

The final batch of nominations for TW2B 2007 included two famous assets of the city, and it was good to learn that they are being recommended by disabled visitors.

We have had a nomination for the University Botanic Gardens, and this is the second time it has been recommended for the special tours they arrange for visitors with visual impairment. To quote from the nomination form:

"They offer free monthly guided walks for visually impaired people. These focus on non-visual aspects of the garden and include smelling highly scented plants, stroking bark and bird song. Staff and volunteers are sensitive to the needs of visually impaired people."

I first went to the Botanics soon after I moved here because I signed up as a volunteer for Crossroads and I was given the job of taking a gentleman out in a wheelchair. He knew Cambridge like the back of his hand, but could not speak following a stroke, so I just followed his hand signals, and one day found myself in the Gardens. It was wonderful!

On another occasion he directed me to the Fitzwilliam Museum, only in those days we had to go round the back, via the goods entrance, where apparently this gentleman was a familiar sight, judging from the greetings of various workers on their teabreak.
Nowadays things are very different, I'm glad to say, and as our nominator says:
" The museum is so accessible. The staff are friendly and helpful and the tea and cakes are lovely. I am a disabled person, I love art and this has opened up treasures on my doorstep."
Cambridge residents do indeed have treasures on our doorstep!
Rain or shine, this autumn, what are we waiting for?!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

City Council has the Key

Did you know you can buy a RADAR key over the counter at the Guildhall Reception?
They cost just £1.50
No need to get caught out without one!
And it's not just toilets that you can easily use with one of these, but some shops and swimming pool changing rooms have introduced them for disabled customers.

From the Lakes to the Fens

Does anyone else remember a place called Lakeland Plastics, a small warehouse near Windermere station where you could buy freezer bags and all sort of plastic goods?
Well, the small Cumbrian firm has transformed itself, and has a branch in Cambridge which has been nominated by a partially-sighted customer.

Mark went to check it out, and as you can see from the photo (left) he is showing an unhealthy interest in the Hallowe'en catering range for gruesome snacks .

His visit showed good basic facilities for wheelchair users such as level access, automatic door opening, generous circulation space and low checkout counters.

What we could not know until our The Way To Be nomination came in was the helpful and discreet assistance offered to customers who need a bit of help to find and examine the goods.

Thought for the Day: Just as the Lakeland poet Wordsworth spoke of the inner eye that can recapture beautiful sights such as wild daffodils, we know how much it means to disabled customers to remember the kind words, actions and thoughtfulness celebrated in some of our many really great nominations.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Inclusion — A Delusion?

lynne hester
A week in the life of a Guide Dog owning, Braille reading, working lone parent.

Saturday – Food shopping – local supermarket has Braille on a number of items now so this makes it easy to find the unsmoked bacon, and the vegetable lasagne ready meal. After lunch Guide Dog puppy walker takes Wade (my Guide Dog), out with her puppy. Take taxi to Funky Fun House to drop off my daughter at noisy 7 year-old’s party. Meet another parent from school who offers a lift to shopping Centre. Trainer shopping. Buy hockey stick and shin pads. Son then practices at home – in the front room! Guide Dog and puppy come back and we puppy sit for the evening.

Sunday – Wade is not up for working today. A 6 year-old dog just can’t take the pace of a puppy! We walk into city centre. Children select a favourite café to go for lunch. As we enter we are told we cannot come in because of the dog. I say we can because Wade is a Guide Dog. We sit and start to select our food. The waitress again states we cannot be there. I say it is the law that we can. The waitress again returns and says she is happy for us to be there, but the manager has said we cannot. Children are totally upset and we leave. They refuse to go into another café. We sit on a bench and they eat hot dogs. We go to bookshop and they cheer up as they spend yet more of their Christmas money on books! How has it lasted so long? I ask if its O.K. for me to go into bookshop café for a hot chocolate. They spot muffins and their mood changes about cafes! The staff are very pleased to have Wade and say how lovely he is. He behaves as a Guide Dog should – thank goodness!

Monday – I don’t like Mondays. However organised the uniforms are, the homework, the lunch, it is still always chaos. We make it on time to school but then a bus passes me a few metres before the stop. It is my lucky day as within 30 seconds another one arrives. It is crowded and I am standing with dog. Next stop a mother wants to get on with pushchair. Driver asks if someone will please assist by moving and allowing me and mother with child to get a seat.

Only 26 emails today, 2 meetings and more paperwork regarding my Support Worker – employed to help me with paperwork! Something crazy about the Department of Work and Pensions creating so much paperwork around their scheme to provide support to visually impaired people who have difficulty with – yes, paperwork!

Between meetings I return to café where I was sent away from yesterday. Owner is there. He is not apologetic, talks over me, and only after prompting by Ann, my colleague, takes the information I have printed off about the Disability Discrimination Act as it relates to visually impaired people and Guide Dogs. I explain that the problem with disability is being refused entry to places, having your children embarrassed about going places because of the fuss that occurs. He says he knows, his mother is disabled.

Tuesday – Stephanie starts work after school. The County Council have funded 6 hours of support to assist me in my parenting role. Childrens homework may now get completed and they will get the help they deserve. She is 23, has energy beyond my understanding, and stains on uniforms, and untidiness is removed in minutes! Paperwork around her employment foxes me again. Have to contact the Rowan Organisation to get help. They are great and patient with my mental blocks about forms. Feel it should be easier for me dealing with this sort of thing at work, but just seems to be worse with so many forms and processes to get my head around.

Wednesday – My long day at work and children are collected by after school club, then go to have supper with their father. Arrive back bickering over who will give cabbage to the guinea pigs! My brother calls to say he is going to have an operation on his knee. The nurse at the hospital filled in a form with him, asked about his blind registration and how much he could see. She then explained he would not be able to drive for 24 hours after the op. He says it will be great if he can drive 24 hours after the op! So many times people ask about your visual impairment and then ask about your driving skills!

Thursday – No work today! I am as usual exhausted and there are so many phone calls and letters to follow up. No email or internet connection on my computer. Second time in two months and yet I am paying a large amount to have reliable broadband service. Cannot sort it as noone here who can tell what the lights on the modem are doing. Bathroom tap is wobbly and dripping – where do I find a plumber?

Friday – get up early as I am being paid by another organisation today to go and do interviews. My son appears, has temperature and a throat that sounds like a rusty saw. Have to phone and say I cannot make interview panel. I don’t suppose they will ask me again. I reassure my son that it is not a problem and say he is my priority, (but could have done with the extra money). He wants to bath the dog. We manage to lift 32 kg dog into bath and have a great time – even the dog. Spend 45 minutes on the phone regarding computer internet connection. Son relays information about flashing lights, screen etc. They say after all this that we need an engineer. So no internet food shopping this weekend. Go to friends house for a curry and discuss the joys of being working lone parents before I leave to go to bed at 9.00!!

Lynne Hester

Friday, 14 September 2007

Nominate Cambridge sportspeople

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Sports Awards 2007 have rolled around again and nominations are now open for the
  • Sports Performer with a Disability
award, which carries a prize of a £100 grant towards their development, a trophy and sports kit.

Nomination form (PDF, 260kb) from the Living Sport website.