A charity is hoping to tear down barriers for disabled people in West Lothian.
Disability West Lothian are launching a new mystery shopper campaign aimed at highlighting the problems disabled people face in everyday life.
Volunteers will document their journeys to places like shops and restaurants using dictaphones and cameras.
Organisers then plan to present their findings to West Lothian Council in a bid for change.
It comes as the Pumpherston-based charity’s Community Equality Officer, Fiona McKeon, claimed that some disabled people are too nervous to leave the house.
She said: “We find that when disabled people are trying to go about their day-to-day business they are encountering problems.We’ve got a woman in her late thirties who rarely leaves the house because she just thinks it’s too hard. There’s young people who can’t leave the house because there are no dropped curbs for example. Even going to a film with a friend at night can be challenging because a lot of the time disabled people use carers who usually put them to bed at 6.30pm.
We are trying to empower people to think: ‘Why can’t I do what everybody else does?'"
Volunteers from all areas of West Lothian are still being sought for the project which begins late next month. The idea is to show a different view of a daily journey which most people take for granted.
Fiona said: “If I wanted to get a paper, I’d jump in the car or walk to the shop, it’s not that simple for a lot of people. This is about giving an account of what it is like to be a disabled person on a normal day. The plan is to record people’s journeys to the shops using a dictaphone or camera over a couple of months. Our board members are mostly disabled, so we’ve got a good idea of the challenges but there are people out there who just aren’t living a life at all.”
Asked how the findings could make a difference, Fiona continued: “We want to speak to local retailers and organisations about the difficulties people are having. Finding a solution to the problems people face doesn’t have to cost hundreds of pounds. It’s just about getting people on board. We’ve got about 20 per cent of the population who have got disabilities. That’s a big pocket of money that could be spent in shops which currently isn’t happening.”
Disability West Lothian are already lining-up their next venture after the mystery shopper project ends.
Fiona added: “Once we’ve completed this project we’re going to be more ambitious. We’ll present our findings to local politicians and the council. We’re then going to examine how difficult it is for disabled football fans to get to and from games. It’s just about highlighting something that’s a wee stretch at the moment for people. That football project will start after Christmas.”