MP Andrew Gwynne backs student’s call to improve access at train stations for wheelchair users

Health and Social Care student Nathaniel Yates has cerebral palsy, which does not require the use of a wheelchair, but he recognises accessibility issues for other people due to his membership of Stockport disability organisations.

Health and Social Care student Nathaniel Yates has cerebral palsy, which does not require the use of a wheelchair, but he recognises accessibility issues for other people due to his membership of Stockport disability organisations: Primus, Stockport Action Youth Speakers (SAYS), Disability Stockport and Manchester United Disabled Supporters Association.

He says his local train station of Reddish North is inaccessible for people who use a wheelchair.

The 26-year-old said: “I can walk with my cerebral palsy, but I thought it is not fair that people have limited travel opportunities. Not everyone who is disabled can get a taxi.”

With the support of Stockport Action Youth Speakers (SAYS), Nathaniel has called for the local community to respond to a survey about the accessibility of Stockport train stations for disabled people at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QGPPCYV.

He said his lobbying, which is extra-curricular, wouldn’t have been possible without the support he has received from Stockport College staff over his last six years of studying here. Now studying Health and Social Care, Nathaniel receives one-to-one support from a scribe and verbal assessments from his tutors.

 “Stockport College has helped me grown up and mature. I wouldn’t change a thing about the people I have met and the experiences I have had. The College has helped and supported me to fight for what I believe in.

“I think in life there’s a lot of work to do. As long as you’re willing, as long as you have a smile on your face and you are determined enough, anything can happen.

“It doesn’t matter whether you have a disability or not, you can make your ideas a success.”

In 2018, Nathaniel became Chairman of Stockport College student Equalities Council and shared his views about accessibility with Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, during a visit last year to Wellington Road South site in Stockport.

“MP Andrew Gwynne wrote to me to say he is looking into it. The next step is to lobby people on Twitter. We’ve got to keep fighting for this.”

Nathaniel has called on students to complete the survey that has been passed on to the Manchester United Disabled Supporters Association, the Together Trust and Disability Stockport, with whom he recently completed a work placement as part of his Health and Social Care Course.

Reddish North is one of Transport for Greater Manchester’s top 5 stations in need of upgrading for disabled users, according to Andrew Gwynne MP.

Mr Gwynne said: “This shameful decision will stop disabled people from travelling independently. 

“Despite the huge ambitions here in Greater Manchester for our transport network, the Government have continued to shut down talks of devolution and have offered piecemeal funding to upgrade the network. 

“Disabled people should not be forced to put their lives on hold. The Government need to either step up and provide the funding our stations need, or hand control of the city’s stations to the Greater Manchester Mayor so he can bring them up to scratch.”

 Transport for Greater Manchester was contacted about station access for disabled people, but declined to comment.