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Out & About in Cumbernauld - Robert's Story

Robert was part of our Out & About in Cumbernauld project. Here he shares his story about how he felt empowered to make changes to his local wheeling environment.

When you become disabled your world changes. It took me a while to start going out again. When I got a mobility scooter I could start taking my dog Charlie out for a walk and I started to enjoy it more and more. It feels great to go out on the paths and connect with other places.

But when I was out walking the dog I noticed things that were making me angry, and making it harder for me to get about. For example, people parking on dropped kerbs. The dropped kerbs are there for people like me but the people parking there didn’t care. So when I met Anne [Project Manager, Living Streets] it was a way for me to get my voice heard. If I wasn’t part of the group I wouldn’t have done it. Being in a group helped me immensely and spurred me on to change. The people in the group are fabulous, they make me feelgood. I took it upon myself to do something about the people parking on the dropped kerbs. I thought that if no one else is going to do it I had better do it myself. I started to put notes on their cars and it made a difference. They stopped parking there. And that’s me! It feels good. Ravenswood never had a signpost. I asked the councillors - why is Ravenswood the only district in Cumbernauld without a signpost? Within a month a signpost appeared. And it was because of me.

Robert is an elderly man, he sits in a mobility scooter

Robert in his mobility scooter

Robert in his mobility scooter, walking his dogs

Robert in his mobility scooter, walking his dogs

There was a grit bin outside the high school blocking the pavement on the route to the park. It had been like that for a long time. I asked if they could move it and they did. To see the yellow grit bin taken away - that was fabulous. It meant a lot. There are two lots of heavy doors to go though to get to the library. I can’t open them myself. There’s a nursery up there too and it’s hard for the mums to get in with their prams. Annette [Partnership Officer, North Lanarkshire Council] made a video of me trying to get into the library. The video was shown to the next Community Board meeting and that got the councillors involved. They were shocked. Myself and some members of the group are going to arrange a meeting with the Town Centre Manager to discuss solutions.

When I used to go out for a walk there was a bench I loved to sit on. It was lovely, just to be outside. Then all of a sudden they took it away. It felt like they were taking it away from me. They didn’t realise how important it was. But now the bench is back. It’s good to see the changes I’ve made.

Update on Robert's story

As Robert explained previously, the Cumbernauld Town Centre top floor has heavy glass doors that have to be pulled open, making it extremely difficult to move if you have a mobility aid, buggy or you don’t have the strength.

Robert and some other members of the Cumbernauld Out and About Group, met with the Town Centre Manager, John Bruce, to discuss the problems with access onto the top floor of the Town Centre building. This floor houses the local library and a children’s nursery.

Over a coffee and cake, Robert discussed the difficulty he had trying to open the heavy doors, keeping them open and then trying to get his mobility scooter through at the same time. Robert also explained that his mobility scooter was too big to get into one of the lifts and how the larger lift that was suitable, was usually out of order.

The Town Centre Manager, John Bruce, who asked lots of questions, listened to Robert’s and the other group members concerns and experiences. John explained some of the issues he faced as the Town Centre Manager. John thanked everyone for raising their concerns and promised that he would work hard to find a solution but couldn’t give any promises.

I am delighted to say following this meeting, the doors to the top floor have now been fitted with magnetic fittings, this means the doors remain open all day but will close if the fire alarm is activated.

“What a result, this has made such a difference” - Robert

Once again, this positive outcome demonstrates the importance of the experiences of local community are listened and heard, by the people who can support local people to make positive impacts and make change happen. Robert and the rest of the Cumbernauld Out and About group have expressed their gratitude to John for making this positive result happen.