New MP for Harrow East, Bob Blackman, came up to Aspire last week for a look around the National Training Centre and to find out more about the Charity. A lot of his constituents make use of the sports and fitness facilities on offer, and he was impressed by the inclusive design that means they are suitable for all. As Bob pointed out, getting things right at the design stage means that simple ideas can make a huge difference and the equipment in the new gym and the ramp in our swimming pool are prime examples of this.
But as well as looking at the facilities in Stanmore, he was also keen to find out about Aspire’s work around the country. As a member of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, Bob was especially interested in our Housing Programme; the Aspire Houses give the tenants a fully accessible home to live in whilst they are adapting their own property or seeking somewhere permanent to live and are great examples of how to design properties that suit anyone. Whilst we couldn’t take him out to see one of our properties first hand, our staff kitchen here in the Centre uses the same ideas with a rise and fall work-surface and sink and drop down shelves in the wall cupboards.
One issue that the MP has been looking into is the poor wheelchair access at Stanmore tube station. It’s an area that Aspire have been concerned about for a while – the station is classified as having step-free access, but the reality is that the step-free route is dangerous and exhaustingly long. With the number of wheelchair users coming to Aspire, and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, as well as those that live and work locally, it’s a real shame that so little has been done. Even the recent new platform and access work – which gave a real opportunity to include a suitable step-free route – failed to think about those who find the stairs a problem. We’ll be looking some more at this issue and are delighted that our MP is already aware of the problems.
For Bob Blackman, the time at Aspire was very informative: “I very much enjoyed visiting Aspire and seeing first-hand the facilities they offer. I am proud to have such a fantastic charity within my constituency.”