Access Ridiculousness

A piece of voluntary work I did (an event I helped organise) for my housing provider has been shortlisted for a TPAS (Tenant Participation Advisory Service) award in the Southern region.  I believe if we win we get shortlisted for the national award, I’m not sure. And anyway that has no bearing on what I want to write about.

So tomorrow is the awards ceremony for the South and as I’m the chair of the group that did the work I’m off to London to represent them along with two members of staff from my landlord.

The plan was train from here to Paddington and then taxi. Only with the floods they got a bit worried we wouldn’t manage it.  So I got a call mid morning from one of the people I’m going with saying they’d had a rethink and we’d be getting the train from Haddenham and Thame station over to Marylebone in London instead.  They’d pay to get a taxi to take me over to Thame for the train.  Only they’d tried the usual accessible taxi provider and they didn’t have an accessible one available (they only have two). As I’d said I was taking my manual would a regular taxi be ok?

I said I wasn’t keen because that would mean I’d have to transfer and talk the taxi driver through collapsing my chair (which is fine if I get one who will listen rather than just go “yeah I know how to collapse a chair” before discover that actually mine is a bit more involved than the standard grab the seat in the middle and pull it up design). Given that my transfers aren’t great and how wet the ground is it’s ringing a safety bell with me.

So she went off to ring round some other companies. Getting back to me she said she’d rung six companies including the one they and I usually use. Which was the only one who had accessible taxis. And they aren’t available.

We’ve managed to come to a compromise where they’ll pay my Dad mileage to drive me across.  I’ll still have to transfer but it’ll be safer because it’s someone who knows how to do my chair and how to help me transfer if I need it. And luckily coming back when I’ll be tired they have managed to book an accessible taxi making it easier for me and my Dad.

I’m pleased I still get to go but bang goes my independence.  And that’s just ridiculous.

And in other the floods are causing access ridiculously news:

Mum and I are supposed to go to a show in Oxford on Saturday afternoon. I spent ages on the phone to assisted travel with the end result being they couldn’t book me assistance because they don’t know which trains will be running, if it’ll be rail replacement and what times. Maybe I could take a different route to Oxford using a different provider?

I know they’ve been reccommending that if you do have to go to Oxford that from here when the trains aren’t running direct going to Paddington grabbing the tube to Marylebone and then coming back this way to Oxford. No accessible tube at Paddington – his suggestion to me was I could get a train via Waterloo.

At which point I went “it takes two hours to get to Waterloo from here” (20 minutes ish to Oxford)

And the assisted travel guy went “that’ll be a no then?”

Laughing I told him it was definitely a no and that I’d have a rethink.

I suspect my poor Dad is getting roped in for that too.

(and actually the two most stupid access fail bits about going to Oxford via Waterloo is that 1) part of the train line to Waterloo is flooded out as was pointed out to me after that conversation and 2) being curious I stuck Waterloo to Oxford into The Trainline website. There are no trains that way.There’s no such route. I’d have to get the tube from Waterloo to Paddington which we already know I can’t do, a train to Reading and then change to an Oxford train – to GO to Waterloo from here I’d have to change in Reading.)

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