* This post is written by one of our volunteer guest bloggers - it is not sponsored. *
My name is Zubee Kibria and I am the Founder of Access My Events. I am a disabled entrepreneur who loves to make a difference to people’s lives through the work I do. I have worked in the field of disability equality for many years, including working and volunteering for several organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors. But like many people living with a disability, it was hard to find a job so starting my own business was the ideal way to work in a sector that I am passionate about, which is events! I've also wanted to peruse for a career in business for a long time but found it hard to get support and guidance from the organisations I approached to help get my business off the ground. There were many times I felt like giving up, but I decided to do it alone by getting advice through mutual connections and building my network along the way - so I am very grateful to everyone who has supported me along the way.
Then in June last year, I connected with an individual who is the CEO of multiple online businesses and serial entrepreneur. Since then my life changed and I've never felt more positive. Rehan's motivation and positivity is so infectious that there was no going back. But without his support, I wouldn’t have continued to pursue my business - so a special thank you goes out to him!
One of the most memorable events I have organised was the first groundbreaking fashion show called Fashion with Passion, which featured both disabled and non-disabled designers and models. The reason for creating the show was to raise awareness for disability in the fashion industry and to raise money via Action on Disability. Some of the big-name brands who showcased their collections included ASOS, Full Circle, La Mack London, Laura Fox, Clan Douglas Cashmere Studio, WheelieChix Chic, John Smedley, Evans and Glam Sticks. The show also had support from various celebrities who took to the catwalk, including, ex Eastenders actor David Proud and Hollyoaks actress Kelly Marie Stuart. The show raised over £2,000, receiving local, national and international press coverage with an article in British Vogue Magazine!
At the time I didn’t really know what direction I wanted to go in career-wise as the success of the fashion show was not something I was expecting, but from there my passion for events started, and I have since gone onto support other organisations with their events.
As a disabled person myself I understand the challenges associated with accessing events. Because of this, I have a passion for helping other disabled people attend events in and around their local area; something that is so important for independence and wellbeing. But here are just a few of the challenges people living with disabilities face:
● no lifts or ramps;
● no accessible toilet facilities;
● attendees not being able to get into a venue due to lack of access;
● limited or no disabled parking spaces near the venue;
● no british sign language or subtitled performances for those who are deaf;
● no provisions for someone visually impaired, such as braille or a hearing loop;
● no accessible train stations on a route for those needing to use public transport;
● limited nearby hotels with an accessible room.
Access My Events is a unique business designed to give people living with a disability the opportunity to attend events that are accessible in the UK, from fashion shows to trade exhibitions. My company will give businesses a way to reach out to the disability community and become more aware of accessible events that they otherwise may not have known about. I will source accessible events, build partnerships with those businesses and grow my network of disabled individuals keen to attend events. This will enable me to promote the event to the disability community across social media, through my network and Disability Horizons, an online lifestyle magazine which attracts over 50k readers a month. Finally, if I find an event is not accessible, I will work with the business to make it inclusive as possible through my solutions-based consultancy service.
Like many entrepreneurs, I started questioning whether I should continue progressing my business once Coronavirus came to the UK and created a lot of uncertainty, but I have been working on expanding my connections and raising awareness as much as possible. The next step is to work on building a website to make inclusivity a staple part of organising an event. Allowing businesses to attract more disabled visitors, which in turn will lead to a more diverse audience and a potential increase in sales. So if you run/know of any businesses that host events and are interested in getting more disabled attendees, please get in touch via the links below!