Edinburgh business launches a new accessibility initiative

A local Edinburgh business has launched an initiative to provide better disabled access to people around the city, and to employ homeless or unemployed members of the community.

The Edinburgh Tool Library (ETL) has been providing local makers in Edinburgh with work tools for years, but has also recently started supplying disabled access ramps to businesses. ETL’s rationale in undertaking this project goes beyond merely improving access for the local disabled community.

The idea is that the ramps are built by matching an individual, who comes from a long-term background of unemployment or homelessness, with a mentor provided by ETL. This will provide invaluable training opportunities for the individuals building these ramps. These transferable skills could furthermore increase the prospects for future employment for the individuals building these ramps.

Speaking to The Student about ETL and the initiative, Chris Hellawell, founder of ETL, said: “ETL is about more than just tools. It’s about creating a sharing, collaborative, helpful organisation that makes the communities it works in more cohesive and resilient. We want to use both the physical and metaphorical tools at our disposal to tackle societal and environmental issues that directly affect the people of Edinburgh.”

The Access Survey in 2016 by Euan’s Guide, a website for disabled access reviews, revealed that 65 per cent of the respondents are not “generally satisfied with the level of accessibility provision they find at venues”, and 86 per cent felt that venues could improve their accessibility with environmental changes.

ETL aims to expand their purview beyond being a place for people in need of tools. Besides aiming to improve disabled access in Edinburgh, ETL is also working towards creating a more cohesive community in general. They already work with other organisations, such as Crisis Scotland, Social Bite and Cyrenians, supporting young unemployed people and older, socially isolated people to contribute to their community and access economic opportunities with trade skills. ETL has also worked with community health projects throughout the city, such as the Syrian Refugee and Migration Programme at the council.

Image: KestinHare

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