UFC Liverpool Wheelchair Accessibility Review (Liverpool Gateway B & B and M & S Bank Arena)

Photo Credit: Keshia Asare

Here’s another 2 for 1 accessibility review deal with reviews of the Liverpool Gateway B & B and the M & S Bank Arena Liverpool as part of an overall review of my experience of UFC Liverpool.

(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 others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!).

Liverpool Gateway B & B

In terms of booking, we found the B & B online and rung to explain the situation in terms of my disability and what was required in terms of accessibility, once it had been discussed and I’d confirmed that the B & B was accessible enough for me to stay there, I was able to book a ground floor room (the absolute deal breaker basis for accessibility that I requested).

For travelling to Liverpool, we used Megabus. In terms of getting across the city, we took the 10A bus from Liverpool One Bus Station (where the Megabus dropped us off) to Queens Square Bus Station (getting buses between bus stations may seem a little ridiculous but we were tourists who had no idea where we were going so we took the route we were given), then we took the 7 bus from Queens Square Bus Station to Old Swan to get to the B & B.

The B & B could not be considered “fully accessible” as there was no wet room, a step into the building and some small steps to the main area but I already knew about that and had booked knowing about it. We were able to have a ground floor room which is what I HAD requested. We also had great customer service throughout our stay with staff who were always willing to help with access (lifting my chair in and out of the building etc) and with recommending places to go and telling us how to get there. It’s a place I would gladly return to on another trip to Liverpool and would definitely recommend to others!

M & S Bank Arena Liverpool

In terms of booking, it may well be the longest booking process I’ve ever gone through. First, I bought the tickets and “part” paid as though paying for a disabled and carer ticket, but the carer ticket was not YET confirmed.  Before that, 2 forms needed to be filled in: one for me as the disabled person and one for my “carer”. My form involved sending copies of my ID and PIP (Personal Independence Payment, government disability payments) confirmation and my personal details. The carer form only required the personal details of the person who would be accompanying as my “carer”. One stipulation was that the person named on that form MUST be the person who accompanied me, and that couldn’t be changed after the form was submitted. Top it all off, the venue then lost my documentation copies and form, so I had to resend it via email!  Once my entitlement to a disabled and carer ticket was verified and confirmed, the venue confirmed that I did not have to switch my carer ticket to a standard ticket and therefore there was nothing left to do, and the tickets were FINALLY fully paid for!

Travel to the venue involved sharing a taxi with someone else who was staying at the B & B, that took us from the B & B to the city centre and then it was just a leisurely walk through the Royal Albert Dock.

The overall venue experience started well as there was a lowered window and counter where I could collect our tickets. We were then well guided through to where we needed to queue for entry and I was allowed to keep my water for taking medication without too much off an issue. We were directed towards the door for our section of seats and asked to sit down. From that point onwards, we were basically left entirely alone which was a little concerning as I would have liked to have been checked on more often to be reassured that the staff knew I was there. We were sat very much towards the higher levels of seating and quite central. The only issue with that was all of the submissions and “ground & pound” (my favourite part) on the big screens rather than watching the actual action. However, I suppose that’s a problem for all the customers who have seats higher up and not just specifically a problem for those with disabilities.

Getting out through the large, bouncy, VERY drunk crowd was quite difficult.  More signage showing where would be easiest to exit, for those in wheelchairs or with other disabilities and their carers, would certainly be an improvement to access as opposed to having to struggle through large crowds to leave an event.  This was again a case of me wondering if staff knew I was still at the event.

I hope this post provides a recommendation for the Liverpool Gateway B & B and sheds some light on the accessibility of the M & S Bank Arena.

Stay Invincible!

Em (InvincibleWomanOnWheels)

ANOTHER O2 Arena London Wheelchair Accessibility Review (For UFC Fight Night London 2018)

I know I’ve reviewed The O2 Arena before but this one specifically focuses on my experience at UFC Fight Night London 2018, which was so different to all my previous experiences. As usual, I’ll be splitting it into the ticket buying process, the journey to/from venue and seating/general experience at the event.

In terms of the ticket buying process, it was no different than my other O2 Arena experiences, other than the fact I got these tickets on presale rather than general sale.

Travel was way more complex due to Tube upgrades meaning Piccadilly and Metropolitan lines both didn’t run from Uxbridge. Getting there involved taking the U3 bus to Heathrow Central, then the Piccadilly line from Heathrow to Green Park and THEN the Jubilee line to North Greenwich. The return journey involved getting the Jubilee line to Bond Street where there were “access issues” to put it politely (dragging a powered wheelchair off a tube train to avoid being crushed by the doors is no mean feat , add to that the pathetic apology I received on the night and post complaint about the access issues and you have a a pretty standard Tube trip in a wheelchair. These are issues I often face as a wheelchair user on the Tube. There was then a loooooooooooong trip on the N207 back to Uxbridge (Night buses on St Patrick’s Day also no fun!)

The experience & seating was where I noticed the most difference. We had a much poorer view from W108 as opposed to W101 where I’ve been every other time. We were placed right at the back of the venue and were not guided or directed to our seats or even to the lift to get to our seats. Neither were we directed out towards the lift to exit when the event ended, (even though it was PRETTY obvious we were struggling to make it through the droves of people who were also trying to exit), despite having asked multiple staff about the location of said lift. Out of sight, out of mind I guess if you’re a disabled guest with a seat at the back of the venue? And to top it off, we were almost crushed trying to get back into North Greenwich station after the event. (For a tube station right next to a major venue, crowd control measures at North Greenwich don’t really seem to exist, and neither does the decency of fellow fans to not crush me as they try to re-enter the station. Lack of crowd control lead to the access issues at Bond Street that I described above

The joys of just trying to see some MMA action as a disabled fan! I’m genuinely a little disappointed in you, O2 Arena… I always hype you up as a great venue for access and customer service as a disabled guest, and this time you let me down.

Stay Invincible!

Em (InvincibleWomanOnWheels)