Maddocks Board Scholarship - Isabella Pierri

Maddocks Board scholarship recipient Isabella Pierri took her trip abroad to the United Kingdom where she spent time volunteering with Step-Up.

In July 2019, I was fortunate to be one of two people awarded the Maddocks Board Scholarship. This enabled me to travel to to Oxford in the United Kingdom and volunteer for two weeks in the Step-Up Oxford community initiative.

I assisted the charity organisation Step-Up Oxford during the launch of their community ramps initiative to provide a free, sturdy, and colourful wooden ramp to select Oxford retail shops and hospitality venues with single-step frontages. This exciting and new community initiative aimed to both practically improve access in Oxford and raise awareness of issues around equal access, disability and inclusion more broadly.

Many shops and social venues in Oxford have a single-step entrance. For people with access needs, this single step poses a significant barrier to meaningful social inclusion. The Step-Up Oxford initiative provided local venues with single-step frontages with a custom-built and non-permanent ramp which could be stored outside, in plain sight, and without the need for legal permits or planning approval from English Heritage.

I tried my hand at carpentry for two weeks, where I helped build 7 colourful wooden ramps for shops located on Oxford’s High Street. It was a fantastic experience to be able to liaise with local venues, assist in drafting and reviewing waiver forms, organise insurance and construct ramps all as part of the one initiative.

Step-Up Oxford is part of a broader movement towards improved access in Oxford and coincides with the launch of their new SociAbility mobile app. SociAbility is an Oxford based social enterprise empowering social inclusion through better access information. Through its mobile app, SociAbility makes it easy to find detailed access information for social venues and shops, empowering people with access needs, whether they are disabled, elderly or pushing a pram, to explore their communities with greater confidence, purpose and ease.

Delivering the ramps to the participating retailers gave me a great sense of happiness and accomplishment in knowing that I had contributed towards creating a more socially accessible community for every person and moving towards giving everyone the opportunity to live a full and independent life.

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