A disabled blogger is using his own experiences to help others who want to travel abroad.
Charlie Randell, 23, from Dartford, who has cerebral palsy, writes a blog called Not Quite Politically Correct (NQPC).
As a young wheelchair user, he shares the ups and downs of his trips abroad with his followers and gives advice to anyone with a disability who is planning their own.
One of the struggles disabled socialites face was highlighted recently by West London’s Victoria Brignell, who is paralyzed from the neck down. She made headlines when she was trapped in her seat for an hour and a half before being helped off a BA plane at Gatwick.
Now Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, one of Britain’s top Paralympic athletes, has spoken out about the difficulties she has faced and called on travel bosses to do more for disabled passengers.
Baroness Grey-Thompson says she once had to get up from her seat on a plane because there was no staff to help her.
She is working with a national newspaper on five lawsuits to be followed by the travel industry.
Charlie Randell talks about the challenges for disabled travelers
They include: fines for airports and rail operators who make disabled passengers wait more than 20 minutes on planes and 10 minutes on trains for assistance; that all wheelchair users can use their own wheelchair to the aircraft door, and it will be waiting for them at their destination; storage of at least one folding wheelchair in the cabin of each aircraft; an accessible toilet on each aircraft; and a fully trained disability champion on board each flight.
As a frequent vacationer, Charlie agrees with all the points, but is suspicious of one of them.
He said: “In terms of 20 minutes to get off the plane, that’s a challenge because sometimes it takes that amount of time for everyone to get off the plane.
“It’s hard because when does that 20-minute timer start?”
He also said: “With accessible toilets, it’s something I’ve often thought about because on trains there is a toilet and it’s accessible.
“So I can’t understand why it’s not the same in one place.”
Referring to Victoria’s experience, Charlie said: “Personally, I find it difficult to get very angry because I can see both sides.”
As a keen tourist, there’s one piece of advice Charlie would give his followers: plan ahead.
He said: “I want to live for the moment, but because of my condition it means I have to be a fan of plans.”
Charlie recently returned from Amsterdam and one problem he had was finding accessible toilets.
In addition to this, he struggled to get into restaurants and had to resort to sitting outside. Fortunately for him, the weather wasn’t too bad and he was still able to enjoy his food.
In his blog he talked about a trip to Edinburgh where the cobblestone streets proved to be a challenge.
From this experience, Charlie gave advice such as renting an electric wheelchair or scooter as an easier way to get around.
He explained that the further you go, the more difficult it is for someone with a disability.
He said, “I would love to go to Thailand, but I have to think about the logistics to do it.”
There was one instance where Charlie was told his hotel was fully accessible, but when he arrived, that was not the case.
Charlie is also passionate about fitness.
It was while watching the London 2012 Paralympics and seeing Ellie Simmonds, OBE win the silver medal in swimming, that he was inspired to take it up again and try to compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
He missed it, but undeterred, he focused on bodybuilding and powerlifting, creating fitness and health content for NQPC.
In the long term, he has dreams of opening his own brand of gyms that cater to handicap-accessible needs.
You want to create a system where you can book a staff member to train with you if your friends or caretaker are not available.
Then the trainer will get to know your personal needs.
The facilities that are available at gyms for people with disabilities are not widely advertised and therefore Charlie wants people to know what is on offer.
Charlie’s blogs also provide helpful tips on dating with a disability.
Charlie met his partner Gina in 2017 through a mutual friend and they bonded over the fact that they both had YouTube channels.
Dating hasn’t always been easy, and the pair have been met with strange looks in the past.
Charlie said, “Looks have always been one thing and something I was used to, so I developed thick skin.”
Her partner Gina was initially quite uncomfortable because it was something she hadn’t experienced before.
They are both very public about their relationship and just laugh at the negative comments towards them.
Said, “One [dating] The advice I would give is to keep going and keep meeting people.”
Gina is very involved when it comes to raising awareness of disabilities.
She helps Charlie with her videos and blogs to expand her platform and reach out to the disability community.
His blog consists of advice he gives to people who go to school, go out at night, go to festivals and more.
He shares his experience through words, videos and podcasts, helping to change people’s lives.
Charlie loves when people come up to him and answer any questions they have.
She has helped answer questions from people with disabilities and their parents.
He said that he would not return his disability because there are so many opportunities that have come his way. It is the “unique selling point” of it.
Disabilities can still be a taboo subject and Charlie and Gina are working hard to help change that.
Charlie said: “The topic of disability is a nervous topic and nobody wants to talk about it.
“But the more we talk about it, the more awareness comes out of it.”
You can visit Charlie’s blog at www.nqpc.co.uk and get him on Instagram at: @n_q_p_c and YouTube: NQPC.