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FOCUS: Fighting prejudice and making Jersey disability-friendly

FOCUS: Fighting prejudice and making Jersey disability-friendly

Monday 28 March 2022

FOCUS: Fighting prejudice and making Jersey disability-friendly

Monday 28 March 2022


A community minibus scheme, courtroom adaptations and a programme offering access to board-level positions are among the initiatives planned to help disabled people get involved in all aspects of island life.

The initiatives are outlined in this year’s report from the Government’s Disability and Inclusion team, which says the reality for many islanders is that they still face barriers to participation and equality.

The barriers

The report included results from a "statistically representative" survey by 4Insight, suggesting that 81% of participants believed there is still prejudice in Jersey against those with long-term health conditions and disabilities – higher than the equivalent findings from the UK. 

Almost half of all respondents with a disability said there was a lot of prejudice against people with disabilities - and there was a significant difference between those with and without a disability: 45% of people with a disability answered 'Yes a lot' compared to 28% of people without a disability.

It also found more than 70% of those surveyed think the accessibility of the island needs to be improved, particularly in retail buildings. 

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Pictured: The strategy is broken into five priority areas. 

The report goes on to highlight that many shops in Jersey remain inaccessible due to steps, overcrowded aisles, and lack of appropriate changing rooms or bathroom facilities. 

Minister for Social Security, Deputy Judy Martin, said the Government is "committed" to making Jersey an "exemplar" for disability inclusion.  

“We have a very diverse community and disabled Islanders are already adding value to local businesses and organisations. 

“Off the back of the Embrace the Difference campaign launched last year, I want to see more businesses recruiting and supporting disabled people and giving them the same opportunities as everyone else in the island.”

The report outlines the progress the Disability and Inclusion team made in 2021, and how it will deliver its strategy for 2022. 

Building accessibility audits

One of the initiatives included in the report is the use of ‘accessibility audits’ for buildings. Equality and diversity charity Liberate has already established and trained a group of volunteers to undertake such audits across the island. 

So far, they have conducted 70 audits, including 44 Government of Jersey buildings. The volunteers assess how accessible a building is, and advise on ways to make adjustments to improve accessibility. 

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Pictured: Users could download an accessibility guide by scanning a QR code outside the venue. 

Local organisations, including Liberate, also want to create ‘access guides’ for over 300 venues across the Channel Islands. The guides, downloaded via a QR code outside the venue, would provide users with information about the access in and around restaurants, sports venues, hotels and beaches. 

Negotiations are already underway with ‘AcessAble’, a leader in online and app-oriented accessibility information. 

Community club driver scheme

The government also plan to introduce a shared community transport scheme, to help tackle the current ‘inefficient’ approach to minibus usage by charities and clubs. 

There are approximately 300 minibuses in Jersey registered to charities, sports clubs, schools and travel operators, many of which are not used on a regular basis. There are also voluntary and community organisations in need of a minibus, but who struggle with the financial implications. The cost of a new minibus ranges from £20,000 to £60,000, with the added costs such as maintenance and insurance. 

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Pictured: The scheme would see voluntary organisations share their vehicles and drivers.

A shared transport scheme would help reduce this financial pressure, as well as solve the problem of securing and retaining trained drivers. 

Charities and community groups would pay an annual membership fee and hire vehicles through a booking system, with pick-up and drop-off points around the island. 

The scheme has already attracted interest from voluntary organisations looking to donate their vehicles and share volunteer drivers. 

A specialist logistician has been recruited to explore opportunities to take the initiative forward with partners, but a pre-Christmas trial had to be postponed due to covid-19. 

Justice pilot project 

The report also stresses the need to identify barriers to participation in institutions of justice and citizenship: physical and online courts, law firms, law reform bodies, access to legal materials, studying law and becoming a jurat, judge or magistrate. 

Larger jurisdictions have succeeded in creating one-to-one mentoring, training, and support programmes to enhance inclusion in such contexts, and Jersey is hoping to follow suit.

A pilot project will pair individuals with aspirational and supportive mentors, in person or online, with the aim of addressing the key barriers to inclusion. Jersey hopes to create a benchmarked and certified programme that could then be launched island-wide. 

Board apprentices

The report also outlines how the Government will improve communication support and information for disabled islanders, and improve access to education, employment, and leadership opportunities.

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Pictured: Government is finding ways to provide information in accessible formats, including British Sign Language. 

Funding has been provided for 10 individuals to be able to take part in the Board Apprentice scheme, which aims to improve diversity and representation in boardrooms.

You can read the full report HERE.

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