‘Our biggest dream is to find out we’re redundant,’ says Crawley Town Access Group

Crawley Town Access Group SUS-140430-140633001
Crawley Town Access Group SUS-140430-140633001

A group which has helped make the town more accessible to people with disabilities turns 21 this summer.

Crawley Town Access Group (TAG) comes of age in July and the team has a new campaign in the pipeline.

Over the years, TAG has worked tirelessly on accessibility schemes, many of which we now take for granted.

Disabled access to the Hawth and the Checkatrade.com Stadium was achieved with their guidance and they were consulted when it came to the refurbishment of the neighbourhood parades and the building of new schools.

Never shy when it comes to pointing out something which could be improved, the group’s outlook is to get things done with a smile.

Treasurer Kieran McKenna said: “We don’t just complain about things. We complain and give recommendations about how to improve things.”

TAG was born in 1993 due to the determination of Claire Venner.

Claire had multiple sclerosis and became very frustrated with the barriers she faced around town as her mobility worsened and she needed to use a wheelchair.

Her work saw TAG become a registered charity in 2002.

Claire died four years ago but her husband – Sussex table tennis star Ritchie Venner – has been invited as guest of honour to the 21st birthday celebrations.

TAG chairman Chris Cheshire joined the group shortly after becoming a wheelchair user and is proud of the work the team has achieved.

She said: “I was a teacher with a body that was gradually falling apart and I was just getting going in a wheelchair and a public meeting was held and I was asked if I would join TAG.

“A lot has changed in 21 years. A lot of things we used to ask for is now part of best practice, the building regulations and the law.

“All that has come from pressure from local groups like TAG.”

TAG doesn’t focus solely on the needs of the physically disabled. Sensory disabilities such as poor hearing and sight are also on their radar as are the problems faced by people with learning disabilities.

Describing the work of TAG as an “ongoing story”, Chris added: “It’s made me open my eyes to lots of different things.”

When it comes to the future, the team agreed that one of their biggest dreams would be to find out they were no longer needed.

In the meantime, there is work to be done and, for their latest campaign, TAG’s attention has focussed on people with sight problems and the issues they face when presented with hard-to-read menus in restaurants and cafes.

For further information about the Crawley Town Access Group, log on to www.crawleytag.co.uk or call Damien Brewer on 01293 438449.