This is the second story in our “mini series” of personal stories and case studies collated for the National Outdoors for All Working Group (NOfAWG), to accompany the group’s report on barriers to accessing local green spaces. Following on from Ann-Marie’s story, we are staying in the Sheffield area, where this time we hear from Caroline…
My story is a happy one that has had a great many frustrations along the way. I am Disabled, I wouldn’t feel it, but society sometimes makes it a fact because of its infrastructure and attitudes.
I have had a tricycle since 2009 when I swapped my electric mobility scooter so I could feel part of my community and take my children to school and nursery, calling at the local park on my return journey. The battery on my electric scooter would not last long enough to do this every time. So, I got a cycle and a dog and now enjoy cycling with Holly my dog, in the woods every morning. It is ‘my moment’ of the day, listening to the birds and the stream, the woodpigeon making ‘too-too, to, too-too’ sounds. But it hasn’t always been like this and I know many Disabled people who are not as lucky as I am to access their local green spaces. I feel so sorry that society is disabling them.
I talk to everybody, and I am known – you can never be shy if you cycle a three-wheeler with a dog in tow! One day, I beamed enthusiastically at the man across the road and told him of my love of the local woods, but that I couldn’t access it. He explained that he was a member of ‘Friends of Gillifield Wood’ and would see what he could do. The next day, we had an arranged meeting with a park-ranger ‘type’ person. I showed him that I couldn’t use the ‘public’ footpath because of the high kerb so he took it out and replaced it with stone and rubble to make a ramp. Simple as… no health and safety, no stroking chins, just bliss and freedom.
Image courtesy of C. Waugh