Newington Green Meeting House39A Newington Green, London, N16 9PR, United Kingdom | 020 7354 0774 | Website
Very accessible building let down by lack of thought
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Walking Aid
The historic building was originally a Dissenters meeting place, and today is an event and exhibition space. While the building has been adapted and is very accessible, my experience was mixed, and with a little more thought could have been a much more positive experience.
Transport & Parking
The Newington Green Meeting House occupies one side of Newington Green and there are bus stops close by that are served by the 73 and 476 which serve King's Cross to Stoke Newington. There are other buses that serve the area. The nearest station is Canonbury on the Overground, and the station's website says that there is step free access from the concourse to the platform via a lift and there is Turn-up-and-go assistance, which does not have to be pre-booked.
There is step free access throughout the building. There is a gentle slope to access the entrance, a platform lift to all floors and an accessible toilet in the basement. However, when I turned up the event I was going to was on the 1st floor and there was a sign in the street pointing to the side entrance, with a single step. I was informed it was the entrance to the event and I was not offered a step free alternative. I then took the platform lift to the 1st floor. There are braille buttons in the lift. However, there is a handwritten note which says Please don't use this lift if you are the only person in the building. Please do not accidently press the protruding red button. I'm not sure how blind or visually impaired people are made aware of these notices. The controls are a bit confusing as the buttons are labelled -1, 0 and 1 and it's not clear what is on which floors. The steps are very steep with a handrail on one side and staircase curves. When I arrived at the 1st floor I had to step over a protruding cable. The room was laid out with free standing rows of chairs. On exiting I went through the main room in the ground floor, although there is level access the seating is in box pews which have to be opened to enter the bench seating.
The accessible toilet is on the ground floor. The room appears new, very clean and is well equipped. There are grab rails around the toilet and one at the sink and an emergency cord.
I was attending the Stoke Newington Literary Festival and it was their staff/ volunteers that I had contact with rather than the building staff. When I arrived at the entrance and commented on the step I was told that they only had been allowed in the building 30 minutes earlier. However, I was not offered a step free route, however the person took me to the platform lift. On exiting I spoke to the 3 Festival staff who were by the door to express my concern about the lack of step free entrance for those going upstairs. Also my concern about the lack of mask wearing both by the Festival staff and the public.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
The Festival itself was excellent and the speaker very engaging and interesting. However, this was my 1st time out in a public building since December, so I had been feeling very nervous about attending. The lack of mask wearing made me feel very uncomfortable, I moved my seat next to an open window and sat there. I had planned if this had gone well to book for some more events over the weekend, but I don't feel confident when I was 1 of only 5 people who I saw in the building wearing masks. I get the feeling this is how society more generally are treating vulnerable people and it was not specific to this venue or event. However, the step free access needs to be sorted and could quite quickly and easily be done, as the access in the building is excellent. The notice should have pointed out the step free entrance, and staff should have been able to immediately direct mobility impaired people to the front, step free entrance. Event organisers could make the events more inclusive by wearing and encourage attendees to wear masks, unless except, to enable vulnerable people to feel safer about attending.
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