Yet more clearing the backlog of accessibility reviews from the past year and a bit. This one from December 2021. My first trip back to Cage Warriors for CW132 at York Hall in London.
(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as an electric wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for other experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)
Event tickets were purchased by emailing Eventim through their customer service form. They then called me back (using the number I had left on the form) so I could book my access seating. The train tickets to London were booked through Trainline as usual.
I Initially took my usual train from Birmingham New Street to London Euston. I then took the Tube (I believe it was the Jubilee Line, exiting at Canary Wharf), and switched to the DLR to head to Pudding Mill Lane where my hotel was. From my hotel I had to take a couple buses to York Hall, but I’ll discuss those a bit more in the venue section of the post.
Ah the hotel, here’s the interesting part of this blog post. I wanted to make a booking at Snoozebox Olympic Park. Partly because it was close ish to the venue and partly because it seemed like a cool place to stay. After a phone conversation they let me know that they did have accessible rooms and to just book a standard room online and add into the notes about my need for an accessible room, so that’s what I did. Seems simple, right? Oh, so very wrong, this is where things go decidedly south. About 3 days before I was booked to stay, I realised I hadn’t heard anything and sent an enquiry across. It was then that I learned there was some issue (nothing was specified) with ALL the accessible rooms and that there had been a ‘staff consensus’ (without consulting me, the disabled person) to decide I wouldn’t be able to use a standard room. Essentially, with 3 days’ notice, I was a solo female disabled traveller left without a hotel room in the capital. Needless to say, I panicked and took to all the social media to see if any friends had somewhere to stay or knew of hotels nearby with last minute availability. This minor social media ‘campaign’ reached the attention of the hotel management, and I then received a call to say the issue with the accessible rooms had been sorted as a matter of priority and I would be able to stay as originally booked. I think this shows the importance of advocating for yourself and your access requirements, because if I didn’t in this situation I think I may well have been sleeping on the streets that night.
Upon arrival at the hotel, I noticed the rooms were in cabins (the easiest way to describe them) separate from the main hotel lobby. Whilst this was a cool place to stay and did have an accessible bathroom with roll in shower, there was a little ramp to enter the accessible room which was quite steep and made it difficult to get in and out of. This meant that I didn’t feel safe entering or exiting my room without assistance in case my wheelchair tipped up.
Experience & Seating
In terms of the venue, I took one bus about halfway to the venue before getting off that and taking a short walk to switch buses in order to get to the bus stop closest to the venue. From there I rolled up to the standard entrance to the venue, which had a significant flight of steps. From here, staff took me round to a separate side entrance. This also had steps but there was a stairlift (honestly quite an old looking one) which took me up the stairs and I was able to go from there to my seat. To say I’d actually had to go upstairs to get to it, my seat was actually on the ground floor level of the the venue. Accessible seating entailed simply removing a seat from the back row of this ground floor seating in order for me to park my chair in. Whilst I like this approach to access seating as it means I get to be part of the crowd, it does have one major issue as my view is almost completely blocked if those in from of me stand, such as at an exciting finish to a fight. Once the fights were over, I found a member of staff who was able to open a gate and help me down in the stair lift so I could head home.
Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)