Pach’s trip to Belfast 2010

Action Research Trip to Belfast May 2010 

Pach Knox travelled with Margaret Bremner , Andi Bremner and Sheila MacKay to Belfast in May 2010.  The aim of the trip was to explore a part of Ireland that was new to Pach and to taste beer near to where it is brewed.

Preparation:- Margaret booked the van and 4 passengers on the P& O Ferry European Highlander Departing Friday from Cairnryan to Larne and returning Sunday from Larne to Troon. Pach and his PA Derek phoned direct to Jury’s Inn in Belfast to book and check that the disabled access room had a roll in shower and that his mobile hoist would fit under the bed ie not a divan bed.

Equipment:- Molift (mobile hoist plus batteries, charger and slings), special support strap for toilet.

Ferries are more accessible than planes!  Although the journey time is longer driving is easier in many ways if you are a wheelchair user.

P&O successfully and skilfully accommodated the van and all crew members including on the car deck asked if we needed assistance and offered assistance. Although the whole ferry is not accessible there are designated wheelchair passenger spaces and crew members made sure we were fine. There was an adequate disabled access toilet on board and we were able to use the café bar and restaurant during the 2 hour crossing.

Accommodation:- Pach chose Jury’s Inn Belfast because he knew that we had found it good on previous trips to Dublin (with his brother Ali) and Cork.

We were allocated two twin rooms. The disabled accessible room was a bit small and had twin divan beds. This made it difficult to use the mobile hoist as it doesn’t fit under the bed. Getting on and off the bed was made safe by having 3 helpers who could use the sling to position Pach properly on the bed.

The following  feedback was given to the hotel: hoist and wheelchair don’t move easily on deep pile carpet; despite checking in advance the beds were divan beds and therefore caused problems for using the hoist; the toilet had no back support.

Despite all of these points all the staff were friendly and helpful. There was a free safe car parking space designated for us.

Where to go and what to do

The Crown is a famous and very central pub. It is famous for its booths (which are inaccessible for a wheelchair user) but also has standing space which is accessible. It was packed and very noisy on a Friday night – but this wasn’t surprising as the Guiness is first rate.

On the  Saturday we visited the Botanic Gardens and the Museum of Ulster. The gardens had many suitable paths although the Palm House had two steps.