Today, 25th April 2017, I was invited to meet Richard Graham, my local MP for Gloucester at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.
I had been invited by my employer, Jason Smith, chief executive of Marketing Gloucester, to discuss the details of my role as Disability Marketing Assistant and my progress within Marketing Gloucester. We also took the opportunity to assess the accessibility of the Houses of Parliament which was a very interesting experience.
On arrival, we started our journey at 1 Parliament Street. Once we’d got through the rigorous security process and collected our visitor ID badges, we made our way through the corridor where we were greeted by Megan Trethewey.
We then took the lift up to meet Richard Graham.
We were also introduced to Charlotte Farrow, Policy Officer, Disability Issues for the Department of Work and Pensions. Charlotte took the time out of her day to discuss her job role and offer any advice and help she could to support my project.
We then met Richard Graham and we discussed what it is involved in my job role. I explained to him that I’m working as the Disability Marketing Assistant for Marketing Gloucester and my brief is to create an Accessible Disability Guide for the city of Gloucester, by visiting local tourist attractions, venues, facilities etc.
After our discussion we started the tour of the Houses of Parliament.
We left 1 Parliament Street and made our way down the lift to Portcullis House. The lift was completely accessible and even had braille buttons for the visually impaired.
The stunning glass-roofed Portcullis House was completely accessible for wheelchair users. We were able to meet the then current MPs, (at present waiting for the result of the General Election). I discussed my project with them and what my plans are for the future, hopefully to expand and provide assessment of other cities around the UK.
Nick Watts from Newsnight
Rob Wilson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Civil Society
Royston Smith & Chris Green
We then took the lift down to make our way to the Palace of Westminster. We used the tunnel that connects with the underground station, which was completely accessible, however, the lighting was extremely dim, which is difficult for somebody who is visually impaired.
We met a few more people along the way, all busy with their occupations but taking the time to talk to me.
Kate Green, then MP for Stretford and Urmston.
Marcus Fysh, then MP for Yeovil and South Somerset.
Alok Sharma (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Minister for Asia and Pacific)
& Mark Garnier (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for International Trade)
Once inside Westminster Hall it was clearly extremely accessible. It has a large open space and it was no trouble for a wheelchair to get around on the flag-stoned floor.
Also, as you enter to the right of the building there are wheelchairs for visitors to borrow when necessary.
We made our way to the back of the Hall in order to access the Central Lobby.
Here we met Frederick the Doorkeeper who showed us where to go next.
We had to walk outside and up the ramp to be able to get into the next part of the building. There are more lifts to take you up to the Central Lobby, this is all completely accessible.
The House of Lords and the Committee Rooms are all also accessible.
St Stephen’s Hall was the only place that we came across that was inaccessible within the Central Lobby.
The outside terrace is also accessible, with a ramp leading out to it and has beautiful views of both the River Thames and the London Eye.
There is also clear access to the gift shop and café with a glass lift leading down to both.
Sincere thanks go to Richard Graham for spending so much time with us to ensure we missed nothing. It was a very successful day and everyone we met was very welcoming, positive and interested in my work.