Brighton Pride this year made serious efforts to improve access for disabled people to both the parade and the event in Preston Park which was attended by an estimated 160,000 people.
The Pride organisation worked with the Brighton Federation of Disabled People to
plan facilities. The website stated:
- Park and Ride close to the park
- An area reserved for those with mobility issues on the parade route
- A shuttle service to the viewing area/access tent from the car park
- The very important access tent operated by Brighton & Hove Federation of Disabled People.
- Our fantastic signers
- Accessible toilets
The parade and the party in the park were bigger and better than ever. Several people joined the parade in decorated wheelchairs and electric buggies. Some may say that Preston Park is now too small for an event of this magnificence and magnitude. However it was wonderful to see so many thousands of happy smiling people have such a good time. Indeed, it was so crowded in many places that any movement was very difficult indeed. The huge crowds also made finding the accessible toilets very difficult. The permanent public lavatories in Preston Park were closed for Pride including one which has a RADAR lock.
The biggest blessing in facilities for people with disabilities was the “Access Tent” provided by the Brighton Federation of Disabled People. This was a real oasis of peace and tranquillity in what at times could be a little too much.
It was a real chill out space offering shelter from the weather and head space, and I was instantly offered a cup of tea when I came into the tent. It was a warm welcoming and secure area. There was also a nice enclosed outer space with tables to watch the world go by. It was wonderful and was appreciated by many.
One quite serious criticism about the space, which I am sure will be rectified next year, was the shortage of accessible toilets in the “Access Tent” compound. There was also a lack of changing facilities, and arrangements for disposal of clinical waste. There was only one temporary wide access toilet in the Access Area. There were some seats for people waiting. This was very quickly full, as there was little or no effective stewarding. At one stage eleven ambulant people were queuing to use it and two people in wheel chairs at the back of the queue waited for a long time to use what was by then a pretty awful facility. Because there was no waste bin people put clinical waste down the toilet so by four o’clock it was unpleasantly full.
When the stewards were asked abut this, they indicated that there was nothing that they could do to prevent this, which is ludicrous. Given the willingness that there has been this year to make the situation a million times more enjoyable this year, I am am sure that they will rectify this and anything else that people point out to them. There should have been at least two wide access toilets as well as one for carers and and one for people needing clean facilities for medical rather than mobility needs. There should also have been handwashing facilities or gel and wipes- and maybe the GAMA toilet fairies!
In the Women’s Marquee a BSL signer was interpreting for a singer, her expresiveness enhancing the experience for everyone.
If you were at Pride or wish to review / comment on disabled persons facilities at any other outdoor event, then please free to do so on the GAMA Website. After all its ours and we should use it !!!
Thank you and a happy Pride !!!