Wheelchair access to businesses and services continues to be a very real problem for people with disabilities. It limits life choices, restricts access to the community and confers the status of second class citizens on many within the disability community. If you experience access discrimination, being informed about the options for redress, and in particular mediation services in Worcester and Hereford, is vital in defending and demanding your rights.
In this blog I’m not only going to look at the law surrounding wheelchair access, but also at how you can ensure it is proactively applied if you encounter discrimination.
The inability to access shops, restaurants, transport and other services and other services within your own community not only makes everyday chores a logistical nightmare, but severely limits opportunities for independent living. Many physical environments, and in particular older buildings and infrastructures, have been designed by able bodied people with little understanding of the needs of the disabled community.
It is important to know that if you, a friend or family member has a disability, you are protected by powerful equality legislation which enshrines your right not to be discriminated against when demanding access to a business or service. If this access is denied to you, you also have the right to legal redress, or to enter disability mediation in Hereford and Worcester to overturn discriminatory practice.
The Equality Act
Anyone with a disability is legally protected under the Equality Act 2010 , which stipulates that people with disabilities have the same right to access businesses and services as any able bodied person, and at no additional cost. Service providers, according to this act, need to demonstrate that they have made every 'reasonable adjustment' to ensure access to their services for clients with disabilities.
Although the term is imprecise in its construction, it is generally applied with a degree of common sense. A multi-national corporation, for example, would be expected to ensure compliance with lift and ramp access in its new buildings, and to modify older buildings where possible. An independent local hairdressers on the other hand, with a raised step into their salon, would need to show ‘reasonable adjustment’ in a more modest way befitting their means, for example by providing a temporary ramp that could be brought out for use by wheelchair users as and when required.
There will only be very rare instances where a wheelchair user can be legally denied access to a business or service. If, for example, a small company hires premises on the third floor of a building with no lift access, and the cost of installing a lift is deemed prohibitive, this would not be discrimination. However,in this instance, the company would still have a responsibility to show reasonable adjustment in another form to meet the needs of a disabled customer, for example if possible offering a remote service.
Position of strength
If you are denied access because reasonable adjustment clearly hasn’t been implemented, there are steps you can take to achieve redress. These can include legal action, or using disability mediation services to resolve your dispute. It is important when considering action to remember that you are in a powerful position. Over a million people in the UK use a wheelchair, making chair users a valuable potential market of between £5 and £10 billion a year, and few businesses will want to anger the disability lobby.
Litigation versus mediation
Redress is generally achieved either through legal representation or mediation. When it comes to disputes over wheelchair access, there are several advantages to mediation which have seen it increasingly become the go-to option for disability dispute resolution.
One of the most important advantages mediation provides over more traditional legal approaches is that it empowers the two parties directly. The person with a disability is able to directly engage with the provider of the service they are being denied. They have the opportunity to talk openly and frankly about how its denial has impacted on their lives, both practically and emotionally. This is generally a very empowering experience, allowing a participant their own voice and their own testimony, and often opens up a very constructive dialogue.
As the two parties engage with each other through a facilitator openly and freely, accommodation is far more likely to be reached than through the use of representing legal counsel. Often this more combative approach tends to entrench positions, denying as it does the opportunity for a more complete understanding of the issues involved on both sides. Litigation often destroys any possibility of future collaboration between the two parties. Mediation, on the other hand, often sets the foundations for a positive working relationship moving forwards.
There are also more practical benefits to mediation, both in terms of time and cost savings. Sitting disputing parties down together to discuss an issue generally leads to far more rapid resolution than resorting to legal proceedings. Most mediation will be resolved within a single day, and many within just a few hours. Compare this to the stories of litigation that run on for months or even years. Consequently the costs involved tend to be only a fraction of legal fees. Mediation has a high rate of success, with ninety percent of cases successfully resolved, but in the rare instance that consensus is not achieved, you retain your right to pursue legal recourse.
For more information about wheelchair access and your rights, or about disability mediation, please contact us at via firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.centreforresolution.com/disability-mediation .
When loss strikes…
Bereavement embraces people, homes, jobs, pets…
It can happen to any one of us at any time. You lose someone – or something – that is precious and means the world to you.
Often the word ‘loss’ or ‘bereavement’ is only associated with death of someone close to you.
Loss…when no-one has died
Whilst friends and relations may understand the loss of a loved one, they may inadvertently dismiss how something like the loss of a business, family, house, a miscarriage or even losing a pet, can affect you so deeply.
Bereavement coaching is an extremely positive step to take to help you come to terms with all kinds of loss. It’s about finding strength after bereavement.
Sometimes, grief comes hurtling out of the blue, knocking you off course with a swift, sudden and painful shock.
At other times, you think you are prepared for the worst but when that worst arrives, you realise you were not. The shock nestles in tight and the sense of emptiness is profound.
There are those who think they can sail through unscathed, and then the thing plonks down, and you’re crying out for help.
You must at all costs ‘be positive’ and ‘keep cheerful’ and all those other things we often feel we’re expected to be at such times.
You become determined to keep soldiering on…and a whole plethora of emotions can jump on you while you do. There can be the terrible sense of guilt, hurt, fear, loneliness, panic, loss of confidence and trust, even anger. All normal.
Every one of us will react differently to different scenarios, from throwing yourself into work, non-stop talking or wanting to be alone. This is part of the healing process in gradually coming to terms with the loss. All natural.
Just get on with it
Unfortunately well-meaning associates can inadvertently contribute to your grief. Some typical phrases you might hear are:
‘You’ll get over it,’, ‘You just have to put it behind you now and move on’, ‘What’s the point of moaning about it, what’s happened has happened, you can’t bring it back.’ They are not helpful.
Something lost, something found
Life coaching or a bereavement coach can help you understand the turmoil of these conflicting emotions, and any intermittent, out of character behaviour, allowing you to give them time to drift away.
Whilst you may never forget, or want to forget, what you have lost, the right process of bereavement can help you put it in perspective, accepting what has happened, rather than fighting or suppressing the event.
You may even find you can look back, hold the good memories…and find yourself smiling.
For more information about Life Coaching please visit www.centreforresolution.com/life-coaching or email us at email@example.com.
When you are denied access to shops, restaurants, public building or modes of transport because you have a guide dog, it is important you know your rights, which can include remedy via disability mediation in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
It is illegal for any service provider to deny entry to someone with a disability because of any equipment they may need as a result of this disability. This applies whether the equipment takes the form of a wheelchair, cane or guide dog. It is also important to know that, if you find yourself the victim of discrimination, there are available options to remedy the situation including court and mediation services in Herefordshire and Worcestershire to right this wrong.
This article looks at the impacts and issues surrounding guide dog refusal: the distress caused when a person with a disability is refused access, your legal rights under these circumstances, and the increasing use of mediation as a cost-effective means of addressing these instances of discrimination.
Equality of Access legislation
Under the Equality Act of 2010 people with disabilities have the same right to access businesses, leisure and hospitality services, public transport and public buildings as their able bodied peers. There should be no increase in the costs of any service and no disability discrimination in these circumstances.
Businesses and service providers are legally obliged to provide ‘reasonable adjustment’ to their facilities and services to ensure equality of access for all individuals, regardless of disability. As a term, ‘reasonable adjustment’ is fairly vague in construction, and open to misinterpretation by businesses and service providers. It is important to know therefore that denial of access to someone with a guide or assistance dog can only be acceptable in very rare circumstances, which are referenced later in this article.
The scale of the problem
A recent Guide Dogs survey revealed that three quarters of owners of guide and assistance dogs have at some point been refused entry to a business, public building or mode of transport when with their dog. This is despite the vast majority claiming that on a day to day basis their experiences of access had been largely positive.
The impacts of discrimination
We all know it can take just one instance of discrimination to undermine the confidence of anyone. Its impacts can be far greater for someone who may already feel vulnerable because of their disability.
Being denied entry is not only frustrating in itself, but is also potentially dangerous if it prevents access to vital goods and services. It is also deeply undermining, exacerbating the social isolation many people with disabilities already feel in their daily lives and interactions. It can also be deeply humiliating to be treated essentially as a second class citizen, and denied access to the social opportunities other people take for granted.
Reasons for refusal
Uninformed business owners and service providers may cite a range of reasons for not admitting a working guide dog to their premises. These can include health and safety concerns relating to areas where food is prepared and served, potential customer and staff allergies that a dog might induce, and the general mess a dog might create if, for example, it was caked in mud.
People with disabilities have the right to expect reasonable adjustments in all of these instances, but not the right to automatically demand access irrespective of the consequences to the business. If, for example, a small café owner has an extreme allergic reaction to animal fur, it may go beyond the scope of reasonable adjustment to demand access. Similarly, if someone with a guide dog is looking to access certain controlled areas within a hospital, the hospital would have the right to deny entry. Under either of these circumstances however, the café or hospital would have a responsibility for ensuring your assisted access, and ensuring the safety of your dog.
It is important to be aware that instances of lawful refusal are very rare, and the vast majority of refusals will be unlawful and open to challenge.
What would you do?
When witnessing or experiencing refusal on the part of a business owner or service provider, how should you respond? Evidence is key, and provides a vital source of information for any potential prosecution. Make a note of any dispute, or use your smart phone to record any footage that might be useful. If the dispute is over access to a taxi cab, if possible record the vehicle’s licence plate or registration number or ask for assistance to help you do so. If you are offering assistance to someone with a visual disability, be aware of the importance of introducing yourself to this person as you approach, bearing in mind they may not be aware of your presence.
Getting something done
Whether or not you have physical evidence of denied entry, you do have the right to seek redress. You can seek advice on making a complaint to a service provider because of the way you have been treated by calling the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 and asking to be connected to the Legal Rights Service or alternatively you can call Centre for Resolution and enquire about disability mediation on 01905 21717.
Options may involve redress through a legal representative, or the more commonly chosen option of mediation.
The advantages of mediation are threefold. Mediation tends to lead to far swifter resolution than litigation. It is often conducted and resolved over the course of a day, whereas legal proceedings can often take months to resolve. Secondly, because resolution tends to be speedier, costs are likely to be significantly lower, and the option of litigation can be preserved in the unusual event that resolution isn’t arrived at.
The aim of mediation is always to understand and resolve, whereas legal wrangling often has the opposite effect of entrenching opposed positions. By giving both parties a voice and an opportunity to express their point of view it not only empowers, but allows them the opportunity for a fuller understanding and clearer perspectives.
For more information about disability mediation, please visit www.centreforresolution.com/disability-mediation .
Family mediation in Droitwich, Kidderminster or any of the surrounding Worcestershire towns is an excellent way to solve disputes amicably, and relates to issues surrounding family breakdown. An impartial mediator encourages the parties involved to explore issues and concerns, with the aim of achieving consensus and reaching mutually agreed decisions.
Mediation versus litigation
Mediation services in Worcestershire are readily available from a reputable local firm and provides family members with the opportunity to discuss their issues face to face; they can work through them in the presence of an impartial facilitator, and avoid misunderstandings and tensions that can arise when negotiations are placed solely in the hands of legal representatives. Participants can take agreements made during mediation to solicitors, who will then draw up a legal framework to make the agreements legally binding.
How can mediation in Worcester help you?
Any mediation process is tailored around the issues that you need to discuss and resolve. Both parties work together with their mediator to clarify the issues, and then work to find common ground within this framework.
Common issues raised during mediation include divorce, separation, arrangements for children and division of finances or any property. Resolution of these issues often involves sharing fairly complex financial information on each party’s financial situation, such as income and expenditure; this can be incorporated into a financial agreement which suits both parties, and also makes provision for any children within the family unit.
The four principles of mediation
There are four basic principles of mediation. Mediation is impartial, decision-making rests with the participants, the process is confidential unless issues are raised surrounding child protection, and the process has to be entered into voluntarily. Below, these principles are examined in a little more detail.
Mediation is voluntary
Both parties entering family mediation need to want to engage in mediation, and can terminate the mediation process at any point. Mediation is a voluntarily process, and although courts encourage families to attempt mediation before engaging in litigation, it is never something that can be imposed on family members, and in certain instances will not be an appropriate course of action.
Mediators will always be impartial
A mediator maintains a neutral position in any family mediation process, and will not take sides or give advice. Their role is to guide discussion in an attempt to achieve resolution of the issues, and also to present legal frameworks that the parties need to consider and work within.
The mediation process is confidential
Any information shared during family mediation cannot be referenced in a court of law, if the mediation process does not achieve resolution, and litigation follows. Information shared by each party remains confidential. There are very few exceptions to this principle, which relate to child safety issues, and in rare instances to counselling and legal directives.
Decision-making remains yours
Nothing will be decided by your mediator. They simply help you work towards resolutions you agree you would like to take forward. Any decisions you reach will only become binding if you ask a lawyer to incorporate them into a legally-binding document.
For more information on family mediation in Worcester, or to discuss mediation services in Hereford and any of the surrounding districts, email or call Centre for Resolution firstname.lastname@example.org 01905 21717.
The Equality Act 2010 provides a legal framework ‘to protect the rights of individuals, and advance equality of opportunity for all’. The act combines and strengthens earlier legislation to provide an anti-discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society. The nine main characteristics protected by this act are as follows:
· gender reassignment
· marriage and civil partnership
· pregnancy and maternity
· religion or belief
· sexual orientation
Equality in action
It is one thing to have equality for all enshrined within a legal framework, of course, and quite another to have these as functioning social values. Individuals, under any of the above characteristics, can feel that they are discriminated against in their everyday lives, whether this be at work, within the community or in relation to a service provider; they may wish to seek redress for these breaches of the equality act.
Heading to the courts
For many, their first thought in addressing perceived discrimination will be adversarial. This can be problematic. Firstly, a successful case will depend upon a burden of proof which may not be available or may be highly subjective and open to varied interpretation. Secondly, in the case of an employee bringing a discrimination case against an employer for example, whatever the outcome of legal proceedings, the relationship may have been irrevocably damaged.
Equality and diversity mediation
Mediation provides a positive alternative. Through the involvement of an objective, independent mediator, both parties stand to gain a greater understanding of the fundamental issues of discrimination as they relate to their particular case. The opportunity for discussion that the mediation process facilitates also allows each party to understand more cogently the position of the other regarding the alleged discrimination, and to move forward constructively in an improved relationship.
In short, mediation allows the opportunity to resolve discrimination disputes without the need for potentially damaging adversarial proceedings, whilst the option to proceed to law remains open to both parties.
Contact: For more information about our equality and discrimination mediation services please contact us.
As businesses and their staff become increasingly aware of the value of professional mediation in internal conflict management, many larger businesses are creating their own in-house mediation services.
As a wholehearted advocate of professional conflict resolution, I endorse this approach as of definite value; conflict resolution services administered by trained practitioners will always be of benefit. In this article however I want to look at the merits of internal versus external conflict resolution services.
In my experience, there are several issues associated with internal conflict resolution, centring around issues of neutrality, confidentiality and experience, which external resolution services tend to circumvent.
Neutrality will generally arise as an issue during internal workplace mediation, regardless of the professional integrity of the internal mediator. At the very least, disputing parties will struggle to recognise impartiality if they feel, however subjectively, that their professional grievance is not being given sufficient weight.
Internal politics also enter into the internal mediation equation of workplace disputes; either party may struggle to be open and honest with a mediator they either know socially, or work alongside. However far removed within an organisation, there will always be an organisational relationship that connects the internal mediator to the mediated, subtly affecting objective mediation.
Spoken in confidence
Confidentiality is one of the lynchpins of effective employee mediation. Employees need to be able to express their grievance, and the impact it has had upon both their professional and private lives if necessary, in the knowledge that this sensitive information will go no further than the deliberations of the mediator. During an internal mediation process, all parties will be intensely aware of any compromising information, and the potential this has to impact and complicate future professional and social relationships.
Generally, internal mediators, whose professional mediation is limited to working within a single company, are likely to be less experienced, have less training and mediation experience than their external peers, and to be perceived in this light by their colleagues. Conflict resolution may be just one of a portfolio of responsibilities they perform within a company, leaving them without the time or will to effectively mediate complex cases.
While mediation training for managers and staff will always have a role in resolving minor workplace conflicts, for more involved disputes external mediation services are likely, in the long run, to save time, pain and money.
Contact: for more information about our mediation services, speak with Ryan at Centre for Resolution now and see the clear road ahead. Sessions can take place face to face, via the telephone or Skype.
The Education, Health and Care (EHC)
plan was launched in
2014, to replace Statements of Special Educational Needs
(SEN) and Learning
Difficulties Assessments for children and young people up to the age of 25 with
special educational needs.
The plan’s intention was to allow professionals from health, education and social care services to work more collaboratively in supporting young people with special educational needs or disabilities, and in doing so to ensure they received more holistic care across a range of vital services.
As well as addressing the educational needs of the young person, the document also details an assessment of health and social care needs. The local authority then agrees the plan, and assumes the responsibility for securing these services.
The plan highlights the need for children and young people to be given a far greater say in the type of support they receive, as an aid to providing them with a degree of ownership over outcomes.
Substantive consultation with the child or young person, and
their parents or guardians, is a valuable step towards ensuring the services
that both care and education professionals provide, are those most beneficial
to their welfare and development, and are seen as such by service recipients.
Effective consultation, of course, is dependent upon the child or young person and their support group being heard, and feeling supported, in articulating their needs and desires.
This is not always straightforward. For many children and parents, unaware of the full range of options available to them, unused to contact with large organisations and authority figures, and unconfident or unable to fully express their needs and concerns, this can be a daunting process.
Special Educational Needs Coordinators (Sencos) are increasingly employing the services of an independent advocate or mediator as an effective method of ensuring the child or young person’s voice -and that of their parents’ or guardians’ - is fully heard; in addition, their thoughts and feelings need to be fully articulated, and given a fair weighting in any consultation.
An independent advocate ensures that vulnerable people, in particular, have their views respected and wishes considered, are treated fairly and that their rights are defended. They will take the time to get to know the views of a young person and their wishes, represent them in situations where they are uncomfortable or unable to speak, and work with them to make informed decisions that provide genuine independence.
This can only be beneficial in ensuring best outcomes for all concerned, and a genuine sense of empowerment and ownership of outcomes for vulnerable young people.
Mentoring has become a popular tool in business and social environments, not to be confused with coaching. Yet many people are either unaware of its significance and benefits or simply have the wrong idea.
There is nothing complicated about mentoring. It is not just about young people or student support mentoring; anyone of any age and from any walk of life can gain huge benefit.
The tipping point
In career, educational or personal areas, in order to move forward to the next level, support from another person who has experienced a similar pathway, can provide the vital pivotal point.
Your mentor can guide you in a specific area in a positive, but not controlling way. In order to develop your skill sets, this often means changing the way you are thinking which can be immensely difficult to achieve alone.
It’s not for me…
You may be stubbornly resistant to change, thinking, as many of us do, that you know what’s best. You may just be baffled, indifferent or unaware of your own talents.
When you are too close to your own mind set, finding solutions to difficulties and implementing a worthwhile strategy to overcome them can seem like climbing a mountain.
The walls come tumbling down
Working with a mentor, the cluttered path ahead can become remarkably uncluttered, clear of the debris which is preventing your progress.
The great thing about mentoring is seeing it working as an organic, evolving partnership; you see yourself growing as an individual, with stronger self-awareness, and greater understanding of your strengths, capabilities, and crucially the areas in your life you need to develop.
I can see you…
When a solid, sustained mentor and mentee relationship builds, results can be astonishingly powerful, offering opportunity to contemplate and reflect on the choices open to you. A mentor who has worked in a similar field, and discovered some of the pitfalls, can often see your potential far better than you.
The SatNav says U-turn
He or she can then help you find the right direction to believe in yourself, and boost your self-confidence. Sometimes it’s about asking you questions to challenge your line of thought, in an encouraging, not threatening way.
Don’t do as I say…
A mentor will not intimidate you or expect you to agree with their suggestions; he or she will understand the issues you face, giving you a chance to look more closely at yourself and what you really want.
…do as you say.
By offering the right support, objective, non-judgmental, uncritical, you can discover new fields in confidence, whilst taking more responsibility for your life.
Contact: for more information about mentoring , why not get in touch with Ryan at Centre for Resolution now for guidance on changing your life?
Life coaching – a brief introduction
The phrase ‘Life coaching’ can send some people running. It is frequently misunderstood, or confused with counselling, mentoring or therapy. It’s not about offering solutions, nagging or cajoling; nor are life coaches psychotherapists, helping you with an unresolved trauma.
A life coach can help you break down barriers of underlying unhappiness, self-denial or frustration and achieve goals in personal and business areas, turning your life around.
Your life in our hands
Most top athletes and business leaders will undergo coaching for effective communication, insight and perspective; it is no different having a life coach motivating and energising you to achieve your personal best.
The expert on your life…is you.
The emphasis is on you, empowering you, focusing on designated areas of your life; with a personal coach, you can work on lifting obstacles in your path that may be holding you back. You can even learn how to manage anger.
Each person is different. For some, one to one life coaching can offer strength after bereavement, helping you to manage grief, loss, and change, for others it may be about gaining a clearer understanding of business goals.
Busy, no time
Sometimes, we are so busy beavering away at our careers or doing our best to make a relationship work that we miss what is really underpinning the issues that affect us from day to day.
We may not even be aware of how changing events around us are affecting the precarious fulcrum of the work/life balance, particularly where transition is a struggle.
Life coaching provides momentum with a steadying structure of support.
The choice is yours
It’s surprising how many of us don’t always know what our aims and aspirations are, the answers are too clouded and obscured to see; working with someone who can see you objectively hands the power to you to help clarify.
Tools of the trade
Life coaching doesn’t just happen in a vacuum, whereby you get to understand what is causing you to slam the brakes on, then go away not really understanding how to use the accelerator, wisely.
Instead, you will take away lasting skills and valuable techniques for enriching your life, for life. Those skills will always be in your pocket, there whenever you need to draw upon them and adjust your way of thinking.
Tap into your full potential
Synonymous with life coaching is raising self-esteem, self-confidence and keeping motivation bubbling away in the pot. Healthier friendships and relationships emerge and you feel more positive towards yourself and others.
Contact: for more information about life coaching, speak with Ryan at Centre for Resolution now and see the clear road ahead. Sessions can take place face to face, via the telephone or Skype.