Could you get around in a wheelchair?

Christine Strain-Clark
Christine Strain-Clark

Able bodied councillors will complete tasks around town in wheelchairs to highlight difficulties that disabled residents face.

An accessibility awareness day has been proposed by Buckingham Town Council for October 14 and invites have been sent out to district and county councillors.

Attendees will work their way around Buckingham town centre in pairs with maps of routes to follow and tasks to perform, such as going to the bank, library and post office.

They will then fill in questionnaires to report back on their experiences.

Town councillor Christine Strain-Clark said the idea came from her time at Aylesbury Vale District Council in the 1990s when a similar event was held.

She said: “It was amazing how quickly people said ‘I can’t do this’ and had to get out of their wheelchairs so it really brought it home to them that it can be really hard work.

“We started doing a survey on dipped curves around the Buckingham and then we found in Aylesbury that they had recently opened a path for disabled access, with plans to extend that.

“So together, we thought well why don’t we do something in Buckingham.”

Mrs Strain-Clark, who is a wheelchair user herself, said she hopes onlookers and shopkeepers understand why they are doing it.

“I don’t want to offend anybody,” she said. “The event is to bring it into focus and to raise awareness. It’s about building empathy.

“We will be sympathetic to the obstacles small independent shops and cafés face and the shopkeepers will be warned – it’s not going to be any surprise espionage.”