On the previous two occasions Martyn appeared on bespoken he was setting off on two different journeys. The first was an “Epic European Disability Road Trip” across the continent, the second a journey from John O’Groats to Lands End in a wheelchair – the full length of Britain. As he explained it in his blog “I set off on the thousand mile plus road trip to keep UK disability issues in the spotlight. To reinvigorate what the Paralympian and Olympian spirit communicates“. His journey took 4 weeks, and saw 1100 miles pass under his feet.
On the trip Martyn got a good overview of how accommodating British hospitality was for disabled people. He received some budget for accommodation from Britain’s Personal Best, and the lottery. It was enough for him to stay in “normal” hotels for most of the journey, before later staying in self-catering accommodation for a few days; using it as a base. His roadgoing assistant (awkwardly also called “Martyn”!) helped plan in advance where to stay, using the Open Britain website. “Trying to find accommodation was tricky, especially in the North of Scotland” Martyn notes.
Despite booking in advance, and using Open Britain, Martyn still needed to bring a shower chair, hoist, and other accessories.
Some hotels “didn’t have a roll in shower, and were a bit narrow”. As a consequence “a few nights I couldn’t shower as there was no roll in shower”.
In his blog Martyn writes that staying with two folk called Sheena and Dougal, from Beauly in Scotland, was “the best accommodation thus far”. He puts this down to four words: “accessibility, attitude, facilities, scenery”. Of the worst accommodation he experienced on his trip he explains it was “not a bad attitude, they just didn’t understand what fully accessible meant”; education is all important.
What needs to be done for better hospitality? “Here, now, short term – access. That has to come from attitude”. His message to Hotel owners is to provide training, “not to be scared by disabled people. Just treat them as a customer”.
On the whole though he observed that “face to face… people were really over the moon with what we were doing”. He has also received a lot of media attention, noting the “local newspaper uptake” and his interview with the Daily Mirror.
Martyn departed John O’Groats with the aim of “sending a positive message to disabled and non disabled people” while raising a bit of money for charity. Despite how difficult the challenge sounds Martyn explains to me “I’m not a Paralympic athlete, just a guy that blogs”, and challenges us “is it really impossible, or is it just a perception?”
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