Latitude 2015 Mencap talk disability access at Latitude 2015: “Being disabled shouldn’t mean you have to have an early night”

The company’s young ambassadors are at the festival to highlight the ways to help festivalgoers with learning difficulties

Mencap young ambassadors Vaughn Wright and Kelsey Ramsey are at Latitude 2015, their very first festival. The pair are at the festival trying to raise awareness for access for disabled fans, and spoke to us about their first night in Henham Park.

“Although we aren’t in wheelchairs, and therefore not instantly recognisable as needing assistance, we have issues with stability, especially in large crowds of people who have had a drink, and so to have our own platform with a good view of the main stage here at Latitude is perfect. It was a dancing platform with so much space for alt-J last night!”

The young ambassadors are working in tandem with Attitude is Everything, who provide the accessible camping areas at the festival, and advise the event on what can be done to improve the experiences of disabled festivalgoers.

“Latitude was the best festival for us to begin our campaign at, as there is accessible camping available, and we are also needed to volunteer at the information tent, giving advice and help to disabled fans. For example yesterday someone came over with a flat tyre on their wheelchair, and we’re just here to point them in the right direction and get the relevant help given”, explains Eve Jackson of Mencap.

As well as highlighting the progress Latitude is making in becoming as accessible as possible for the disabled and those with learning disabilities, Vaughn and Kelsey’s experiences can also prove useful in the festival making further improvements, as Kelsey explains. “There is a very useful taxi service from the main stages to our camping area, but the last one leaves at 9pm. It means that I can’t stay out for a headline act late into the night and get back to my tent safely and easily. Being disabled shouldn’t mean you have to have an early night.”

Latitude are also beginning to provide sign language of lyrics during performances at the festival, which was present in alt-J’s headline set last night. It’s an assistance Glastonbury have also started implementing over the past few years, and that’s next on Vaughn’s list of festivals to attend. “I’m here with my Mum this year, but hopefully soon I will be able to attend with all my friends and have all the support I need.”

Mencap are also running the Little Noise sessions for disabled music fans at London’s Union Chapel in November. More info here. Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett

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