I’ve finally been tempted out of my silence, so here’s the first blog for quite a few months: I hope there are still people out there . . .
‘When shall we three meet again, in thunder, lightening, or in rain?’ Well, not in screen three at Manchester’s new Home cinema, that’s for sure – because they say there’s only one designated wheelchair space – and here it is. (yes, it looks big enough for two to me, too)
My other half and I took the Metro into Manchester to see ‘Suffragette ‘ but were told we couldn’t see it because the single wheelchair space (above) had been booked the day before. After fuming over coffee we decided to watch ‘Macbeth’ instead In a different screen (which actually we really enjoyed).
However, this is a brand new building in a city that used to pride itself on its access. Indeed, Manchester still has an aspiration to be the most accessible city in Europe, yet I have to say that provision for wheelchair users in this new cinema and theatre complex falls short of the mark.
If you have a friend or a relative who is also a wheelchair user then you can’t (ie, are not allowed to) see a film together in screen three. Another screen has a wheelchair space that is so small it won’t accommodate my wheelchair (which is not big), requiring me to sit at an angle, making it very difficult to talk to my companion. To access some of the screens you have to be ‘escorted’ through service corridors to get to the accessible space: I have a friend who got ‘forgotten’ as no-one came to escort her out again. The parking is in a multi storey at £10 a pop.
Does all this matter, you may ask? At least there is provision, and it is outlined here. But, regardless of those access details, yes it does matter. When a Sunday afternoon visit to see a film of your choice is refused you, it feels hostile. When you’re advised it’s best to ring in advance it destroys spontaneity. When there’s a sign on the toilet door that tells you to ask a member of staff in order to use the loo you feel, well, belittled. When, in said loo, the emergency pull-cord is tied up out of the way (despite you having explained previously, nicely, why this should not be done) you may feel vulnerable.
Two points deserve further emphasis – a) this is a new building, and b) Manchester used to pride itself on being an accessible city. There are lots of good points to the access at Home, and the staff are great, but this kind of grudging provision lets everyone down.