Tag Archives: business

“Yes I Can, If…” – campaigning for better disability access

Will Pike is a games developer from London whose parody of Channel 4’s Superhumans advert has gone viral with over half a million views. Tens of thousands of people have signed his petition to ask the two high-street chains which feature in the film for better access.

In this blog, he shares the story behind his campaign and talks about the changes he’d like to see as a result. A text description of the video is available at the end of this blog post.

In 2008 I went to India, on the way back home we had a stop over in Mumbai and the hotel I was staying in was attacked by terrorists. 168 people died, my spine was injured I am now paralysed below the waist.

I’ve been in a wheelchair for eight years now and in that time have been through ever emotion under the sun. I have days when I just can’t be arsed with the barriers and negative attitudes. I made this film because too many shops and restaurants are effectively off limits to wheelchair users like myself.

Inspired by the Paralympics

After the London Paralympics I was expecting there to be a big shift in places becoming more accessible but it just hasn’t happened. Two weeks before this year’s games started I approached my friend Heydon Prowse about the idea and he got a team of people together to produce the film. Errol Ettiene directed  it and did an incredible job, the team turned a good idea into a slick, professional-grade commercial.

It tops and tails with Paralympic references because I wanted to show how day to day life can feel like Paralympic event for a wheelchair user. But whilst the whole thing was inspired by the Paralympics, these issues still remain for disabled people now the games have ended. This is bigger then just me having a unique experience, this is a global issue indicative of a massive absence of consideration for disabled people. My experiences aren’t isolated and sharing them makes them more powerful and potent. It turns individual struggles into a social issue.

The film isn’t in any way a criticism of the Superhumans ad, but it could only ever do so much. Channel 4 started a relay race about disability awareness and they passed the baton on. They didn’t know who they were passing it on to, but it just so happened it was me. I’m leveraging the awareness their brilliant ad created to further the message. My film couldn’t exist without theirs and whatever success we get is their success too.

Will sat on a sofa against a brick wall

The petition

I’ve been asked why I chose to focus my petition on American Apparel and Caffè Nero and the honest answer is, it was just their lucky day. We were filming on Tottenham Court Road and it just so happened they were the shops that didn’t have wheelchair access. But it was also important that we didn’t pitch this campaign at one-off shops because whilst they have a responsibility, it’s the big chains that have a major responsibility and the ones who are neglecting their civic duty. It could also have a domino effect across all their stores.

It’s not that people are fundamentally thoughtless, it’s just that it’s simply not in the social conscience to be considering these things. It’s only when someone comes along and questions access that things will change.

The people I spoke to in the film felt bad and wanted to help but they are purely innocent in this whole thing. It’s the companies they work for who are responsible for disability access and inclusivity. It’s irresponsible to expect hapless shop assistants to have to deal with that situation. I hope American Apparel and Caffè Nero can see it from that perspective too, it will protect their staff from these embarrassing and awkward situations that they shouldn’t have to go through.

Reasonable adjustments

The Equality Act states that all buildings and public places have a responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled people are not disadvantaged when accessing their services.

However, in terms of holding public places accountable, it’s actually down to the customers and patrons of that establishment to draw attention to their inadequacies. If that premises doesn’t then do something about their lack of access or facilities, that person is then responsible to bring them to court. Which basically means that all those people with disability – who may or may not have had their benefits cut, or are finding it difficult to gain employment, or even struggling to leave the house – are the ones who must embark on an inevitably time-consuming and costly legal case.

We really hope that this film, though aimed at Caffé Nero and American Apparel, is able to shine a light upon a flawed and, frankly, ridiculous system. It should not be the responsibility of each and every disabled person to flag up a high street chain; it should be the responsibility of the Government and Councils to assess disability access, educate businesses, and ensure funding is in place for reasonable adjustments.

People may think little things like step-free access won’t make a difference to the majority of the population, but it makes a massive difference for a selective few which in turn has a positive influence on the relationships we have with non-disabled people. In turn the whole community will be accessible and better for everyone. And that’s where the #AccessForEveryone hashtag came from.

Will in his wheelchair outside a restaurant where there's a step

What’s next?

We just have to wait and see! I haven’t been contacted by Caffè Nero or American Apparel, but I wonder whether someone is going to bring it to the big bosses. One way I’d like that conversation to go is that the big boss turns round and says: “Are you telling me we haven’t got step free access in our Tottenham Court Road branch?! Right, heads are gonna roll!” That’s far fetched but I am an optimist at heart.

Both brands have a real opportunity to turn this bad situation good by handling it well. If they acknowledge they were wrong and make changes they can come out of this smelling of roses and will get so much good publicity from this. I will be giving them every chance to handle this magnanimously, with humility, and with a real ownership. But if they don’t, we will do everything we can to highlight their ineptitude.

They really can lose a lot of business because of this. Some people have been commenting saying they will boycott these shops until they make a change and if that becomes the consensus, if that becomes the rallying cry, then together we can change a lot.

You can visit change.org to sign the petition or follow Will’s progress.

Will’s story is also a great example of disabled people being ‘bold and loud’ as consumers – something called for by the Extra Costs Commission. Led by Scope, this was an independent inquiry that looked at ways to drive down the additional costs faced by disabled people. Next month a report will be published reviewing progress with the Commission’s recommendations for tackling extra costs.

Video description: Paralympics billboard, zooms into the word “superhuman”. Alarm clock turns to 7.00am. Man laid in bed opens his eyes, sits up, and smiles. He spins around his bedroom in his wheelchair. Plays plastic toy trumpet. Dances into the bathroom. Sits in the show, miming the lyrics into the shower head. Puts a shirt on, grabs his hat with a reaching tool. Leaves his house, flipping hat onto his head. Wheels down the a busy high street. Tries to enter Caffè Nero, wheels crash into a step. Tries to enter Pizza Express and speaks to a waitress about accessible toilet facilities. Does a wheelie and dances down the street. Goes into American Apparel and talks to staff member. Wheels into a pub, stops himself at a flight of stairs. Then wheels down the ramp, sits with a friend both clinking their pint glasses. Text reads “Leaving the house can feel like a paralympic event for wheelchair users. change.org/accessforeveryone”.

“YouTube is really great for talking about disability” Landie, vlogger and entrepreneur

30 under 30 logo

This story is part of 30 Under 30.

 

Joe Land AKA Landie is a 19 year-old video blogger (vlogger) who also owns a business called Social Land. Joe has hypotonia which affects his muscles.

As part of our 30 Under 30 campaign, Joe talks about his passion for making and editing YouTube videos, starting a business, attitudes online and gives some tips for anyone who wants to start vlogging.

My interests and hobbies involve spending a lot of time making and editing YouTube videos. I especially enjoy the editing side of it. When you edit a video and it looks good and you’re proud of it, it’s a nice feeling.

Attitudes to disability on YouTube

When I first started making YouTube videos, people didn’t know I was a wheelchair-user at that point. The reason I didn’t say anything was because it didn’t really matter. But then, when I started to vlog, you could quite blatantly see that I use a wheelchair.

My followers’ attitudes didn’t really change. If they do bring it up, that’s fine, they’re just curious. If someone asks what’s wrong with me or asks questions – I see that as a good thing. The worst thing is when I’m out or something and there are just some people you can just tell are a little bit awkward. They obviously want to ask a question but they don’t. I just hate that. That’s the one thing that really annoys me because I don’t want people to feel awkward.

Landie, a young disabled man in a wheelchair, sits in front of two computer screens and is editing a movie in advanced software

The reactions to the videos I’ve made about disability have actually been the best I’ve got. The videos have around 200 views but 40 comments which is a lot in comparison. People respond to it really well and it makes people ask questions.

I think the videos are quite good at making people be honest with you and interact with you because I’m making the video about it and I’m clearly not trying to hide anything. People quite like personal videos and that’s about as personal as it gets isn’t it really?

My tips for vlogging

The advice I would give to someone who is thinking about vlogging is don’t make it false. There’s nothing worse than when you watch peoples’ videos and you can quite clearly tell that that’s not who they actually are and that they’re trying to copy someone. Getting inspiration from someone is good but when people try to flat out copy, it’s just really cringey.

I use a Canon DSLR which is perfect for filming vlogs where I’m sitting still. But to be honest, you can definitely just vlog using your smartphone. If you are out and about, vlogging on your phone camera is ideal, especially with something like an iPhone 6 onwards.

People really worry about being awkward in front of a camera but, as long as you just act normal, it’s not going to seem awkward for the people watching it. If you worry too much about how you’re coming across, you can give the wrong impression. Don’t do it if you just want to get the subscribers because it doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to enjoy it to get the subscribers!

Landie, a young disabled man in a wheelchair, films himself using a digital camera

Joe is sharing his story as part of our 30 Under 30 campaign. We are releasing one story a day throughout June from disabled people under 30 who are doing extraordinary things. Catch up on all the stories so far on our 30 under 30 page.

To see and hear more from Joe visit his YouTube channel.

“Football clubs need to think about disabled people” Kelly, the football club owner

30 under 30 logo

This story is part of 30 Under 30.

 

Kelly Perks-Bevington is an entrepreneur and business owner from the West Midlands who has spinal muscular atrophy type 3 and uses an electric wheelchair. 

As part of our 30 Under 30 campaign, she talks about getting into the world of work, her latest business venture and her aims of creating the most accessible football club in the country.

I wasn’t very studious at college so I was absolutely desperate to get straight into work. After loads of rejections, I got a job at a doctors surgery as a receptionist. It kind of lit a spark and made me think “I’ve got a path now”.

From there, I got a passion for being in the world of work. I applied to join a concierge company and I actually went on as an admin assistant there and worked my way up through the ranks until I had my own list of football clients.  This is where my lifestyle company, G5 Lifestyle, started.

Alongside my dad, I also run G5 Sports Consultancy LTD which we use as a vehicle for all of our crazy schemes. We have used it to consult into different football clubs on their practices and football business.

On the side of all this, I also run kellyperksbevington.com which is a portal for me to write blogs about things I’m passionate about. I really enjoy doing that and have had a lot of interest from big companies and media outlets recently, which is really exciting!

Kelly, a young woman, smiles while seated in a stand at a football stadium

Buying  a football club

My dad and I established the G5 business and then we went and bought Kidderminster Harriers Football Club.

It all kind of fell into place really nicely. My dad was in talks with the club for a while and the closer we got to it, the more we saw it as a viable business. My dad has been in the industry for 30 years and I’ve been in it for 10 so we’ve both got a pool of contacts that could be useful to the club.

We just wanted to get everything going in the right direction and make the club function more as a business. We also want to create ways to make money off the pitch as well as on the pitch to keep the club afloat. We’re trying a couple of different things like diversity projects, education projects, development on the ground and making the club more energy efficient.

The club is over 100 years old and we’re going to take it into a new era and get it functioning like a modern day football club should.

The fans have been really grateful as we put a significant amount of money in to secure the future of the club. We’ve had a lot of positive reactions which can’t always be expected as we’re making so many changes to something that people are used to. The response has been great from all the fans.

We’re starting a women’s football team, we had a diversity day with the Panjab FA and Jersey FA, and we’re planning to set up a whole events programme for next year and get the whole community involved!

Kelly, a young woman in an electric wheelchair, looks out over a football pitch

Making the club accessible

I’m a disabled person and the ground is not the best for me on a day-to-day basis. Upstairs we have our hospitality suite and our VIP boxes. I can’t gain access to any of that. Our boardroom where we have all of our board meetings is upstairs. Basically, all the good stuff is upstairs! There are also steps in the corridors of the offices at the club.

We’re putting ramps in where needed so we can take on more disabled staff and apprentices, other than myself and we’re going to put a lift in to the upper levels. Disabled fans will be able to enjoy the VIP areas as they should. They will be able to get access to all of the match day hospitality, as well as booking their private and corporate events upstairs with full accessibility.

We will also be adjusting our toilet facilities to make them better for every disabled person not just certain disabled people. The disabled  seating will also be changed. At the moment, it’s on the front row, so I want to move it around so people aren’t just in the firing line of the ball during matches. I’ve nearly been hit in the face many times watching a match!

I think it’s so important to make these changes. I need to practice what I preach. I get really annoyed when I go places and I want to have the VIP treatment but I can’t. I just need disabled people to have the exact same choices and experiences as everyone else. I want to make sure they can come to the club and enjoy the football without having to make special arrangements. I want it to be smooth sailing for everyone.

I think that football clubs need to think about disabled people. If we take away all the barriers so people can just enjoy things without having to worry, people are more likely to come and enjoy things and put their money into your pocket.

The future is looking bright. The club as a whole are united now.

Kelly, a young woman in an electric wheelchair, looks out over a football ground

Kelly is sharing her story as part of our 30 Under 30 campaign. We are releasing one story a day throughout June from disabled people under 30 who are doing extraordinary things. Catch up on all the stories so far on our 30 under 30 page.

To find out more about stories and how they are at the heart of everything we do at Scope, visit our new Stories hub.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car pledge to be disabled-friendly service and employer

Donna Miller is HR Director at Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Here she explains why the company has backed the recommendations from the Extra Costs Commission report, and pledged to become a disabled-friendly service and employer. 

Photo of Donna Miller, wearing a suit and smilingVirtually all large companies have mission statements that articulate something about their morality and beliefs.

We’re surrounded by brands who want to assure us that they not only provide an excellent service and great value for money, but do so with integrity, equality and inclusivity firmly in mind.

But behind the good intentions and overuse of buzzwords, it seems that there is a gulf between what companies claim to stand for and what they actually deliver to consumers.

The Extra Cost Commission has unveiled that people with disabilities pay an extra £500 a month for goods and services, which seems to be at odds with what companies assert about their ‘inclusive’ business practices. It seems that people with disabilities have to pay a premium to live the same life as others – hardly good value.

Enterprise company cars lined upI believe that Enterprise is different. Like other companies, we also have nice sounding words and phrases that make up our core values. They are at the core of every decision we make and that is why we are trying to make Enterprise a more disabled friendly service provider and employer.

As a service provider, Enterprise is firmly committed to providing disabled people with the same services at the same prices as other customers. We pride ourselves on our award winning customer service, which extends to everyone regardless of race, gender, religion, or disability. Furthermore, we have been taking practical steps to make our offices and branches more accessible where we can, but that’s not toStaff answering phone at Enterprise say that we get it right 100 per cent of the time.

Despite us making progress towards its goal of being the first choice for disabled consumers, we have quite a way to go. It’s a journey that’s made up of many steps, but we are absolutely committed to getting it right.

Serving the disabled community is the right thing to do from a moral perspective, which should be motivation enough for any business. However, treating disabled customers equally could also have some benefits for those companies that get it right.

The Extra Cost Commission has called on disabled consumers to make their collective annual spend of £212 billion heaAccessible carrd. Companies that listen to their disabled customers could find their ‘integrity’ and ‘inclusivity’ result in other well know business terms, such as profit, satisfaction, and loyalty.

I can assure you that Enterprise is listening.

Are you a business that would like to pledge to take on some of the Extra Costs Commission recommendations? We’d love to know. 

“Now I describe my disability as a strength” – #100days100 stories

Everything changed for 20-year-old Azar while on Scope’s pre-employment programme for young disabled people. In this guest blog, Azar shares his story as part of Scope’s 100 days, 100 stories campaign.

I have cerebral palsy, but you can’t really see it at first. That’s because I’ve been covering it so well – my whole life I’ve been covering up. The more time you spend with me, the more you figure it out.

I knew I wanted to work in business, so after I left college I was looking for a job. I just wanted experience to put on my CV, even just working in a supermarket. I remember a lot of times in my interviews I didn’t want to say that I had a disability, but they would pick up on it because of the way I speak, the way I walk.

Getting knocked back

Azar smiling and look away from the camera
Everything changed for Azar on Scope’s pre-employment programme

I applied to lots and got rejected by all of them. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose – the list just goes on, the jobs that I applied for.

I met Vicky from Scope, and she asked me, ‘Anything you want any help with?’ I asked, ‘Can you give me a job?!’ She said she’d try.

And a few weeks later she gave me a call, and she said that there’s this programme, First Impressions, First Experiences. At first I thought, ‘It’s not a job, it’s more of a course, and I won’t be getting paid’.
But then I thought about it. I had a flashback of my previous job interviews – which went well, until I talked about my disability.

Skills for the business world

Because of the course, and the professional mentor I worked with, I’m more confident of just being me without people judging me. You can’t be worried about what other people think.

If anything you’ve got an advantage, because you can say: ‘I‘m at the same place as these people, but I‘ve also got a disability’. It just shows you have an extra strong character. Now I describe my disability as more of a strength than as a weakness.

I use the skills I learnt on the course all the time. For example, speaking in a professional manner – no one’s going to take you seriously if you’re speaking slang.

My dream job is to become a foreign exchange trader. I want to trade in the financial markets. I joined an online trading academy – they gave me a scholarship and now I can go on the course for free.
And after the course, the trainers don’t just say goodbye to you. We’ve been in frequent contact, and it’s something that I’m hoping to carry on.

Pursuing the dreamAzar looking away from the camera

Recently, I had a cup of tea with my mentor, Sean. I had a great relationship with Sean. He’s a trader, and he had this cool charisma.
I think that’s one of the things I learned – working in business there are going to be times where it’s stressful, painful, hard, but in the end it’s the people who stay calm who make it.

Without Scope I don‘t know what I’d be doing now. I’d be jobless, probably at home, playing my X-Box, watching TV. I wouldn’t be where I am today and I wouldn’t be able to explain my disability in a confident manner.

I‘ve just started a business management course at university. I got an access scholarship with help from Scope. I’m also working a part time job, and I’m starting a business with my uncle. I know what I want to be, and I know I can get my dream job.

Azar shared his story as part of our 100 Days, 100 Stories project. If you’re a disabled person or a parent of a disabled child, email us at stories@scope.org.uk to share your story.

Disability doesn’t have to be a barrier to starting your own business

Just four days until our event in London for disabled people who are thinking about setting up their own business, as well as entrepreneurs who have already taken the plunge. Book your free space today! Paul Carter who is speaking at the event explains why disability doesn’t have to be a barrier to starting your own business.

Paul CarterI founded my own media production company Little Man Media two years ago and haven’t looked back.

Leaving full-time employment was one of the best things I ever did, and now I want to show to other people – not just those with disabilities – that being your own boss needn’t be a pipedream, and is something that can change your life for the better.

Flexibility is far and away the biggest benefit of being your own boss. As a disabled person, the ability to be in control of your own time and your own commitments is really, really helpful and can often make the difference between a bad day and a good one.

One of the things I’m often asked is whether or not I’ve encountered any discrimination, prejudice or negative attitudes due to the fact that I’m disabled. For the most part the answer is no. Although there was one memorable occasion when applying for Access to Work funding (the government scheme that helps cover some disability-related costs in employment) when the assessor asked me how I could possibly operate a camera without hands, and that I should consider giving up and trying something “more suited to my condition.”

Such instances aside, I’ve not found that having a disability has been any form of hindrance or barrier, certainly not at least in terms of attracting new business, if anything it has helped open doors. A lot of my work has centred around equality issues and social justice, and being able to bring some lived experience or show that I have an understanding of or connection to my subject is something that people often find appealing.

There are considerable physical and societal barriers to getting disabled people into work so becoming your own boss might be the best option. But it’s not right for everyone and we certainly need more and better awareness among employers that disabled people aren’t going to cost loads of money or have a negative impact on the business – I think there’s still a long way to go there to change attitudes.

An often unaddressed issue is that disabled people’s conditions sometimes fluctuate, and a greater willingness to embrace flexible working would open so many more doors for disabled people, particularly those with mental health problems.

Nobody should be under the impression that running your own business is easy, it isn’t! You never truly switch off from the stresses and strains, and can’t leave work behind at 5pm when you shut down your computer and leave the office. I often find myself thinking about work last thing at night and first thing in the morning. Some people may find that thought unbearable or think it unhealthy, but if you truly love what you do and are passionate about your business, then it becomes an extension of yourself, and you’ll do whatever it takes to make it a success.

Having self-belief and being certain that you’re doing the right thing is absolutely critical, because there will undoubtedly be points where it looks and feels like everything is going against you, and you need to be able to pick yourself up and keep on going. But you need a bit of single-mindedness and the courage of your convictions, because running your own business is the best thing in the world. When you love what you do, it isn’t work. I get to spend my time meeting incredible people, telling amazing stories. Making films has allowed me to meet people who’ve spent time in foreign prisons, Paralympians, politicians, pop stars, and everyone in between. I’ve the best job in the world, and I wouldn’t swap it for anything.

Paul is speaking at a free event for disabled entrepreneurs and disabled people who are thinking of starting their own business in London on 13 February, organised by Natwest, Scope and Livability.