Disability access report: Camden community centres have ‘room for improvement’

Oliver Greene, chair of Camden Disablity Action. Picture: Oliver Greene

Oliver Greene, chair of Camden Disablity Action. Picture: Oliver Greene - Credit: Archant

There’s “room for improvement” for Camden’s community centres when it comes to access for people with disabilities, according to a report from campaigners and the borough’s Healthwatch group.

Volunteers from Camden Disability Action (CDA) visited 28 community centres in the borough, and although they found provision was often good, they noted improvements are needed.

Oliver Greene, 67, chairs the CDA. He told the Ham&High: “If you have a big wheelchair like me everything from getting through doors to going to the toilet can be difficult. Some centres, the good ones, have electric doors operated by an outside button, but not all, and some have doors that just aren’t wide enough.

“We know it’s hard in older buildings, but there are some places where there’s simply not enough space to turn a wheelchair around in the disabled toilet.

“Good access to community centres means people with disabilities can do so much.”

The volunteers found in many cases community centre staff need better disability training – many did not know useful information on disabled parking and guide dog usage – and generally access to information, on centre websites, and in terms of signage at the centres themselves, is a problem.

The report also calls on Camden Council to offer more support and policy guidance to community centres.

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Frances Hasler, Healthwatch Camden director, said: “We welcome Camden Council’s commitment to tackling barriers to accessing community facilities. The overall picture is of good service provision at the 28 community centres that our disabled volunteers visited – this is excellent. However there was plenty of room for improvement.”

Camden Council said: “We recognise in a time of diminishing resources that addressing access issues is challenging for community centres and we want to look at how we can enable centres in Camden to maximise opportunities and resources.”

Camden Community Centres’ Consortium (C4) said: “C4 broadly agrees with the recommendations in this report. Some are ‘quick wins’ and easily – and cheaply – put in place. Others have longer term implications and higher costs attached.”