Coping with Social Isolation – Access Rating

Social enterprise launches online initiatives to help tackle social isolation amongst disabled during Covid-19

A disability app has gone above and beyond recently to organise online activities to reduce social isolation amongst the disabled community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Access Rating is a disability accessibility app that launched in February 2020 and has since been featured on BBC East Midlands, BBC Radio Leicester and described by the disability charity Scope as “groundbreaking”.

Founded by disabled entrepreneurs Mark Esho, Rich Copson and Jignesh Vaidya, Access Rating allows users to search through over 100,000 venues to submit their disability access review in just 30 seconds.

Covid-19 has presented some real difficulties for businesses worldwide and Access Rating is no exception to this.

In the absence of people visiting venues due to the social distancing restrictions, the founders put their heads together to think of ways in which they could tackle the issue of social isolation amongst the disabled community.

As such, they have created a series of weekly free virtual events that can be attended by anyone with a laptop and an internet connection.

The first weekly event is the Access Rating digital pub called the Access Rating Arms that happens every Friday at 7pm.

The virtual pub is accessed via Zoom video call and it provides a great opportunity for disabled people to meet online, chat about their weeks, make new friends from around the country and enjoy a drink from the comfort of their own homes.

Within the virtual pub, they also hold special one-off events. For example, on Friday 10th May the digital pub is holding a quiz night for all attendees and the founders are planning a comedy night in the near future.

The second weekly event is wheelchair friendly yoga. Jignesh Vaidya, one of Access Rating’s Founders, is a keen yoga enthusiast and every Sunday from 11-11.30 am he takes a disability-friendly yoga session which is streamed through Facebook Live via the Access Rating Facebook page.

These relaxing yoga sessions are aimed at releasing any tension stored in the body, increasing flexibility and promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.

They’re suitable for complete beginners to experienced yoga practitioners and both the yoga sessions and the virtual pub are entirely free to attend.

Rich Copson, one of Access Rating’s Founders said “We wanted to think of ways that we could bring the disabled community together during this time of uncertainty and worry.

For many disabled people like myself, being able to go out and socialise is important for my mental health and wellbeing and right now, our access to the outside world is extremely limited.

Therefore by planning weekly events, we hope we’ll be able to give people something to look forward to, as well as providing a safe space for disabled people to come together, make friends, and enjoy some socialising whilst quarantine is in place.

Already we’ve had some great attendance and we want to spread the word of what we’re doing so it can benefit as many people as possible.”

To find out more about Access Rating, download the app in the Apple or Android app stores.

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