By Simon Sansome
I love my food, as a journalist I written reviews for various magazines, but one of the best things I love to do is visit food fair, county fairs, pie fairs, chocolate fairs and basically any fair going that does food of any kind.
Being disabled can hamper a trip to fairs in the countryside. On a recent visit to Chatsworth House food fair in Derbyshire my mobility scooter got stuck and I had to be rescued, but because I love food so much this does not stop me.
From Lincoln Christmas Market to the street stall at Borough Market in London you can often find me tasting different foods all over the country.
In recent years major stores like Next and Asda have stated doing caring hours, this is when they close the shop for an hour or so that people with learning difficulties and physical disabilities can shop without being crushed.
When I visit street markets or stalls it is always a challenge for me and others who attend these events in a wheelchair or mobility scooter fighting to get to the samples or to purchase food on offer.
Last year me and my wife attended the BBC Good Food Show at Birmingham NEC, there was just no possible way of me grabbing samples or getting to talk to stall holders about the product as people would just reach over you or just elbow you in the head. It is not a pleasant experience.
What needs to happen sooner rather than later is fairs and events like the Good Food Show need to consider that being disabled and wanting to get to the products on offer can be a challenge given the vast amount of people around. We can’t get to the cheese samples, we can’t sausage samples and if we try to queue in line most people don’t believe you are in the queue and just go around you, it is only after you tell them to get back in line they take notice.
Fairs and events need to follow suit like Asda and Next who have shown a caring side and offered a closed shop for people with careers and disabilities, so they can access the same services that fully mobile people can.
It will be difficult for street stalls to do this as but organised events could open an hour earlier or close and hour later for people with disabilities, so everyone can enjoy the food events not just the people who can walk.