3 Jul 2015

Right at the front: The UK’s first fully accessible gig

Sports reporter

Why Not People? is a ground-breaking events company that prioritises disabled people and was founded by TV presenter and model Jameela Jamil.

Raving is something I spent much of my youth doing and I loved. The excitement of going to a club, meeting your friends, knowing you were gonna hear the music you loved, played by the DJ or artist you were a fan of, is something everyone should have the chance to experience. Many of my friends use wheelchairs or are dependent on crutches to get about and I’ve seen first hand the restrictions disabled people face when it comes to clubbing or going to the big gig in town.

Millions of disabled people can’t and haven’t experienced the fun of dancing until there’s no more sweat left in your body or singing along to your favourite tune or any of the other social benefits that going out brings. And this is only happening because the majority of venues in the UK don’t or won’t accommodate people with needs.

Why Not People? is an organisation aiming to highlight the problem and enforce change. The company was started and is run by TV presenter and model, Jameela Jamil, whose passion for ensuring disabled people have the same social and event-attending opportunities as everyone has come from personal experience.

‘Because I couldn’t go out, it meant my social life was non-existent’

“I was deaf until I was 12 and damaged my back quite seriously, which meant I had to use a Zimmer frame and have assistance for a while. Because I couldn’t go out, it meant my social life was non-exsitent. While all my friends were talking about what they did or were doing, I was out of the loop and felt like an outsider,” says Jamil.

The idea is to treat people with disabilities as equals as they’re currently being failed by clubs and venues across the country. This goes beyond even the obvious. The occasional ramp and kind of working disabled toilet is one thing but the logistics that able-bodied people take for granted like planning transport (and routes), booking specific positioned tickets and whether you will actually get to see the act because half the crowd are stood up with their selfie sticks in front of you, is another.

I met up with Laura Richter, who’s a 21-year old fashion student from Huddersfield. Laura has muscular dystrophy, which is a condition marked by progressive weakening and wasting of the muscles. But because Laura is in a wheelchair it restricts the amount of venues she can enter and that’s a problem not only for her but her friends too. “It’s frustating because my friends won’t go to certain parties because they know I can’t so it affects their social life too.”

Why Not People? has been in touch with the government and feels it is failing the 11.8 miilion disabled people in this country. Not all of those disabled people want to go clubbing to see Tinie Tempah or Coldplay. But more of the ones who do would, if they could – and that’s the point.