Sunday, June 04, 2006

Access Denied

On Saturday I went to an exhibition on the SS Robin, the last remaining steam coaster in the world docked at West India Quay (in the shadow of Canary Wharf).

Its a beautiful space which houses many free exhibitions and projects for various parts of the community including young people. Staff are very friendly and informative.

The blurb on the website and leaflets reads: SS Robin is a unique centre for creative learning. Based onboard the last remaining steamcoaster in the world, the project works with schools, teachers and community groups, running creative learning workshops to empower and develop imaginations. The centre encorporates a professional documentary photography gallery showing temporary exhibitions. The Gallery is open Wed-Sat from April - November, admission free.

Facilities like this are wonderful in an area that is deprived, as Tower Hamlets is. However despite being in the shadow of the illustrous Canary Wharf it has some of the same problems much of the borough has and that is in its inablitity, due to financial constraints, to create the greatest opportunity for people to access what they have to.

Access to the SS Robin can be difficult and impossible for those who can't manage a shakey set of steps up on board and a steep set into the main area. It's such a shame that it it should be so difficult for such a worthwhile organisation to find funding to improve access especially in light of the Disability Discrimination Act of 2005.

Last Summer, in an activity (unlinked to the SS Robin) with a group of young people where they put together proposals to improve the area and presented their proposals and voted for the most young man proposed "better wheelchair access" because he saw how his mum was discriminated against re. her lack of access and this was backed up by a young woman who's friend experienced the same problems. This improvement was voted by the group unanimously, as the most necessary for the area.

So thinking of this and the exhibition which I viewed on board there is a certain irony in the showing of an exhibition of photographs of young people who are carers of family members with disabilities in a space which may be inaccessible to some of those people.


At 22/7/06 6:30 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting site. Useful information. Bookmarked.

At 18/10/06 7:56 am, Anonymous David Kampfner said...

thanks for visiting the SS Robin project at West India Quay, and for posting your comments: I'm co-founder of the project and welcome your thoughts, especially with regards disabled access - we're in the process of a lottery bid to remedy the current situation. As an entirely volunteer-run charity we rely on supporters and donors to help us save the Robin and continue the programme of events onboard - more information on how to get involved is at,
best wishes


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