Back in September 2013 when I moved to York for university, it’s safe to say my new friends and I fully made the most of all the city had to offer. As a non-disabled student at the time, there were no barriers holding us back from exploring the tourist attractions and thriving indie businesses that York is increasingly becoming well-known for… besides the pesky student budgets and the occasional hangover, of course.
However, part-way through my degree, chronic illness inconveniently invited itself into my life. And as I’m sure you can imagine, things have never since been the same. Whilst my health has declined over the last 5 years and I’ve become an ambulatory wheelchair user, my eyes have been well and truly opened to the unrelenting and often invisible obstacles that disabled and chronically ill people face in day-to-day life. And the tourism industry here in Yorkshire, wonderful as it is, is no exception to this.
Although York is undoubtedly one of the finest cities in the country and a hotspot for travel and tourism, my early experiences adjusting to life with chronic illness showed me just why so many disabled people can feel alienated or excluded during their visit. York as a city is incredibly warm and welcoming, however there’s no doubt in my mind that disabled visitors and those with additional needs are still very much an after-thought. My own experiences, plus a bit of online researching at the information already out there, have led me to conclude that it’s incredibly unlikely disabled people are being consulted with when it comes to providing accessibility resources and information. And that’s where I can hopefully make at least a little difference.
Sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge in the right direction to encourage positive change. Enter Pippa, and her problematic power-chair Janice.
Using my blog and social media, I hope to begin sharing personal tips, thoughts and access reviews for the various amenities and experiences York and the surrounding area has to offer, from the perception of a chronically ill young adult. Blogging and writing have brought me some wonderful opportunities to collaborate with tourist attractions, local businesses and the hospitality industry over the last few years, and I’m excited to see how I can potentially tailor these and perhaps even encourage more, by adopting this area into my existing online presence. If you’re a business, brand or individual who’d like to discuss this further, you can reach me here or by emailing [email protected]: I’ll pop the kettle on, and let’s have a chat.
By discussing my own experiences, I hope to gradually become an additional source of information for other disabled and chronically ill people, whether they’re locals, or those planning to visit the city. Though this is a little project I’m just experimenting with and I have no idea how this will play out, I’m very much looking forward to taking on a new challenge and hopefully facilitating some important discussions about accessible tourism.
So, on that note, you’ll be able to find future posts on Accessible York here, and I’ll also use the hashtag #AccessibleYork for any posts on social media. Though separate and a whole other niche, you may be interested in my ‘chronic illness-friendly’ theatre reviews too.
If you have any tips or thoughts of your own to share, please do feel free to join in: I’d absolutely love to hear from you. Let’s make this beautiful city as inclusive as possible, shall we?