Mike Harrison, secretary of SATA, said "We are pleased that we continue to find worthy recipients for these awards, recognising a range of innovation, long service, dedication and much hard work for the benefit of disabled travellers."
Iain Tait (centre) with Marlene Gill (also from Forward Mid) with Paul Cross (a founder member of SATA who presented the certificates)
The "Midlothian Disabled People's Directory" is an annual publication well-known and respected within the county. Starting from a few pages it is now over 150 A5 pages covering over 70 topics from Advocacy to Wee Breaks. Health, leisure, and council services are all covered, but relating to SATA, there are full details of all bus and taxi services in the county.
All this has been done over a period of 12 years, largely by the work of one person – Iain – with support from members of Forward Mid. Collecting the original data was hard enough, but at its current size maintaining the accuracy of the data is a major never-ending task.
In addition to the annual directory, Iain produces a monthly newsletter for Forward Mid with a regular annual 'Preparing for Winter' edition and an annual 'Travel' edition which not only updates the Directory, but has articles telling users' experiences.
All these publications, with support in printing and distribution from the Council, are available in printed form at no cost to the user and they are available to all on-line as web pages or downloadable PDFs.
For many Midlothian disabled people this is the first resource when they are needing information; and is a model which others Councils and Access Panels could adopt.
Taxis are a useful form of transport for most disabled people at one time or another, but for some they are a vital service. Due to the liberal way in which taxi legislation can be interpreted by licensing bodies, there are wide variations in both rural and urban areas in provision of different types of taxis. For some time, East Renfrew had only one wheelchair-accessible taxi.
Driven by ERDA there has been a long period of working with the council and public meetings to improve this situation and there are now 9 WAVs. Persuading taxi owners to spend twice as much on a WAV as a saloon car has not been easy, but the council now has a policy that until the number of WAVs is 20% of the fleet, no other types will be licensed. Money is also being provided for disability training to be given to taxi drivers.
In addition to balancing the fleet, the quality of information about taxis has been improved.
All of this will make for much more inclusion and independence in the everyday lives of those who depend on taxis for most of their travel, also make life that much easier for their carers / family etc to go to places with them.
We all need some fun in our lives. So much of the time we worry about getting to the shops or finding accessible toilets, but this award is about fun. For wheelchair users, gravel, snow and sand are non-starters – offering high resistance, no resistance and subsidence respectively. The only way to stop a chair sinking into the sand is to replace a 1” wide tyre with a big balloon tyre. The Hamish Foundation now makes the hardware available in several locations with a range of chairs for different needs.
This equipment has to be maintained, and its hire or loan has to be managed; but more important, users still need to be pushed (and pulled) on the beach. This is where the St Andrews Beach Wheelchairs team come in. It’s the local people, young and old, who give up their time to enable the disabled, also young and old, to enjoy an hour or so on the beach. Without the team and the equipment, they would be left isolated on the promenade while the rest of the family enjoyed the beach.
This new initiative helps people with mobility issues to experience the urban and natural environment more fully by providing specialist equipment that helps remove barriers to access. It ticks one of SATA’s boxes (SATA aims to promote the welfare of disabled people in Scotland by ensuring that transport facilities and services are available to meet their needs.) This project enables disabled people to enjoy a day out in one of Scotland’s most popular destinations in the same way that as everyone not affected by mobility problems. Another box ticked - SATA also aims to promote, safeguard and improve the rights of disabled people.
This project has brought together partners from business, university, community and third sector to achieve this.