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Disabled man launches campaign for wheelchair friendly shops in Golders Green
A disabled man left frustrated by the lack of wheelchair friendly shops in Golders Green has launched a campaign for better disabled access in the area.
Matthew Kayne likes to venture to Golders Green Road for a coffee at least three times a week but narrow entrances, heavy doors and steps often mean he is forced to sit outside.
The 30-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, said: “I have to sit outside and have my drink in all weathers. I really don’t like it. It makes me feel upset and disappointed.”
Deciding enough was enough, Mr Kayne took matters into his own hands.
He told the Times Series: “I decided to go and speak to every shopkeeper and ask them to put a ramp in and although some people said yes, some were rude and arrogant.”
Feeling deflated and not knowing what to do next, Mr Kayne had a chance meeting with MP Mike Freer over a cup of coffee outside Caffè Nero.
Mr Freer said: “Matthew told me it was a real problem for people in wheelchairs so I wrote to Caffè Nero and asked them to get proper disabled access.
“I also plan to speak to other shopkeepers and see what we can do. Some of the doors are very heavy – we need to make them more usable for people with disabilities, for example automatic doors with a push button.
“Obviously it’s harder for smaller shops but we have to work with them. And with the bigger firms, as they refurbish we would expect them to make their stores as accessible as possible.”
Caffè Nero was the first coffee shop to reply to Mr Freer and Mr Kayne, agreeing to purchase a ramp which can be used whenever a disabled person wants to use the store.
A spokeswoman for Caffè Nero said: “Caffè Nero aims to be a community gathering spot for all; a place to meet friends, read a paper or simply relax in comfortable surroundings.
“It was for this reason, that we have made sure that there is a temporary access ramp available at our store in Golders Green, which the team can use for their customers as and when needed.”
Mr Kayne, who lives in Rela Goldhill Lodge care home in Limes Avenue, was invited to be the first person to use the ramp. With a big smile on his face, he entered the store in Golders Green Road for the very first time last Friday.
Enjoying a cup of coffee, he said: “I’m very pleased – and I really want to thank Mike Freer and Caffè Nero for doing this. A lot of my friends at Rela Lodge will be happy too. It really does make a lot of difference.
“I’m a campaigner now – and I’m going to carry on campaigning.”
Starbucks has also bought a portable ramp for its store in Golders Green Road and has said it will consider installing a permanent ramp and electronic doors when it refurbishes the building in two years.
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