I have a love hate relationship with New Years Eve. As a kid it was an anticlimax after Christmas when the adults seemed to have more fun. As a teenager our family and friends hired a local hall and DJ enabling an inclusive party. In my early 20's I hit the clubs and paid what now seems too much for a typical night out. More recently I've slipped towards restaurants and bars, with bedtime creeping more from New Years morning to Midnight.
Nonetheless I have never needed a major excuse or reason to party, and NYE is as good an excuse as any. So here's my tips for having an enjoyable and accessible night tomorrow.
1) Give yourself time
If this was a few weeks earlier I'd have suggested a little getaway. Following the Christmas mayhem a nice holiday, weekend or night away is great. You can leave your familiar home town, dump the chores and see new sights.
Whilst tomorrow is a bit tight, consider this option next year. For our other options it's not too late.
2) Do something you enjoy
This may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people with a disability (or a person organising for a party including a disabled person) tends to decide by accessibility alone. Unless you like lift parties or ramp discos, please choose the right occasion firs,t and check for access after.
You'd be surprised how many things are possible: bowling with their cool ramps, adapted sports like skiing, spacious nightclubs and so much more.
3) Do your research
Tackling the accessibility question can be approached from a couple of angles. Sometimes you find the venue or activity, check out the website and phone for your specific needs/questions. Other times the venues seem unaware or ignorant to access. In this instant just ' Google ' disability or accessible, followed by your activity. Often a mix works best.
Many accessibility websites have already viewed and reviewed venues and activities. Just be patient and don't give up. The strongest way is to ask friends who may have done something similar before.
Finally you can always #askDH and we'll share your query with our community.
4) Arrange all elements of the night
It's all well and good identifying the restaurant, bar or activity you want to go to. However don't make the mistake of forgetting things like; accessible transport, a Personal Care Assistant, enough budget and of course some new clothes and a sexy haircut.
5) Have a great time
I realised I'm often both nervous and tired on the night. With all the arrangements, the planning, the effort and still knowing things can go wrong meant I'm not always able to relax and enjoy the event itself.
Unfortunately I can't say it will all go plain sailing. I've been stuck queuing outside nightclubs freezing, turned away from pubs due to no access, left stranded without transport and had PAs too drunk to hoist me to bed.
Despite this I've had amazing travels, parties conversations and memories. The problems didn't kill me, some of them I learned from and all of them are in the past. The memories and experiences are carved in me forever.
This is why I'll always ensure a good New Years Eve is had, despite the efforts involved, and carve out a few more memories in the near future too.
Martyn Sibley (www.martynsibley.com)
Thanks to Britain's Personal Best (www.whatsyours.org) for their huge support on making the John O'Groats to Land's End trip possible.
Tweet me on: twitter.com/martynsibley