Public relations and media

Campaigning for accessibility improvements in Manchester City centre


Campaigning for accessibility improvements in Manchester city centre

We are working with our client, sight-loss charity Henshaws, on their campaign around accessibility improvements in Manchester City centre. High-Rise has provided PR and communications support for the charity for over a year.

We are delighted that the huge amount of media coverage we have secured looks set to lead to real-life improvements in city centre infrastructure, including for people with sight-loss. 

As we are based in Manchester, we were well aware of the criticism the revamp of a city centre space was receiving.

We spotted that the ‘improvements’ to Stevenson Square were likely problematic for people with sight-loss and spoke to our client Henshaws to see if they agreed.

When visiting the square, Dave Steele, patron of Henshaws, said he was stunned at so many basic design flaws. He pointed out that for many people including those with sight-loss but also for wheelchair users it was a non-welcoming space.

Our involvement

We met with Dave, who was accompanied by Stephen Tongue, Director of Fundraising at Henshaws. And asked them to talk us through what stood out to them as issues. 

Dave agreed to share his experiences as a visually impaired individual navigating the revamped area. 

He has retinitis pigmentosa; a hereditary eye condition which involves the gradual degeneration of the retina. Dave, who uses a cane, says his sight is straw-like in one eye and completely blind in the other. 

Watch our video here.

Media coverage leading to promises of change 

Our investigation has brought an increase in awareness to this issue, as shown in ITV NewsBBC NewsITV GranadaManchester Evening NewsBury NewsYahoo News and BBC Radio Manchester.

This coverage gained 984,000 estimated views and we also garnered over 50 shares on Facebook with floods of support from those with sight-loss and accessibility issues. 

Comment from Facebook

“The new infrastructure at Stevenson Square is incredibly disappointing and nothing like what we were promised. A lot of problems for users walking and cycling through the area, particularly for disabled people.” – Walk Ride GM

Additionally, The Royal National Institute of Blind people also showed support by liking and commenting on our post.

Next steps 

We are continuing with our campaign and encouraging further conversations around the need for inclusive urban design.  

If you would like to contribute to the discussion please email or contact us here.

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