Last week saw the return of our High Street Heroes event, in which a record-breaking number of campaigners across the UK visit their local high street to educate shops, cafés, restaurants, and other businesses and services about the access rights of assistance dog owners in support of our Open Doors campaign.
Over 800 campaigners and Guide Dogs staff took part in the event which ran from November 7th to 13th. This year’s event saw politicians take part for the first time, with over 20 MPs and other politicians supporting the event. The Campaigns team have compiled an overview of some of the activity on their Twitter account.
Here's a rundown on some of the political activity that took place during the week:
The campaigns team along with volunteers met with the following MPs to take part in High Street Heroes events in their constituencies Diana Johnson MP (Lab, Kingston Upon Hull North), Daniel Zeichner MP (Lab, Cambridge) and Iain Duncan-Smith MP (Con, Chingford and Woodford Green).
The event was also raised in Westminster with MPs using the opportunity to shine a light on the issue of access refusals. Stuart Andrew MP (Con, Pudsey) answered questions asked by Vicky Foxcroft MP (Lab, Lewisham and Deptford) and Ben Everitt MP (Con, Milton Keynes North) around what steps the Government is taking to ensure the assistance dog owners are not refused access. In response, the Minster talked about the Equality and Human Rights Commission and referenced several pieces of case law which relate to equalities law for people with assistance dogs. You can read the full questions and answers here and here.
The-then Minister for Economy Gordon Lyons held a lunch event for the campaign and since ten out of the 11 councils signed up to be involved and talk to their local businesses about access rights. The team will be meeting Jim Shannon MP (DUP, Strangford) around the campaign.
Several guide dog owners have been doing great work in towns such as Bangor, Lurgan, Coleraine and Portadown with further events to follow.
A motion was also passed in the Scottish Parliament, following engagement with Alexander Stewart MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife. The Scottish Parliament were extremely supportive of the campaign. You can read the motion in full here.
Guide Dogs staff met Marion Fellows MP (SNP, Motherwell and Wishaw) in her constituency to speak to businesses. Christine Jardine MP (SNP, Edinburgh West) and Clare Adamson MSP (SNP, Motherwell and Wishaw), as well as many other politicians independently took part in the event in their constituencies. You can read more here.
And finally, activity in Wales kicked off with Cardiff castle being lit up blue and yellow in support of Guide Dogs and Open Doors. Alongside this, Cadw (the Welsh Government's historic environment service) has been putting up Open Doors stickers at all their staffed monuments throughout Wales.
New research by Guide Dogs reveals the imapct of access refusals are having on guide dog owners.
Guide Dogs launches Open Doors app and campaign to help combat illegal access refusals.