Bespoke Hotels’ Robin Sheppard called up by government as disability sector champion

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The Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health has announced the appointment of 11 new disability sector champions, with Bespoke Hotels’ chairman Robin Sheppard called upon as one of the representatives.

The new sector champions will help to tackle the issues disabled people face as consumers, and Sheppard will use his status within the hotel industry to promote to benefits of being inclusive to disabled people.

The other 10 champions represent a range of sectors, from gaming to retail and banking.

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They will amplify the voices of disabled customers and employees within their own industries, increasing accountability and challenging inequality.

Sheppard, who has been a long-time campaigner of ensuring people with disabilities are given equal opportunities within the hospitality industry, will use his new appointment to highlight specific changes and improvements that can be improved within the hotel sector.

Speaking to Boutique Hotelier, Sheppard said: “Having long considered the need for the hotel sector to inject a bit more brio into their disabled-friendly facilities, I am honoured to have been named amongst the outstanding line-up of ‘Disabled Sector Champions’ by the Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health.

“According to recent studies, 72% of disabled travellers have recently stayed at hotels that failed to meet their accessibility requirements, so we want to respond to this and ensure hotel properties across the country are open and accessible to all. From the attentiveness of staff, to the intelligent design of facilities, our aim is to ensure inclusivity is at the heart of our industry.

“There’s a great deal more we could all be doing, so if we can succeed in sparking a conversation or making an industry-member approach a project and the issue of inclusivity slightly differently, we’ll be making an important step in the right direction.”

The Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Penny Mordaunt, said: “As a public advocate for accessibility, these champions will help businesses realise the value of disabled consumers and the importance of catering to every customer’s needs.

“These industries must become fully inclusive. Not being able to access the high street, products and services, transport or simply to access a loo jars with our national values: it must change.

“The new sector champions will drive improvements to the accessibility and quality of services and facilities in their sector, helping to showcase best practice and show other businesses the merit of making disabled customers a priority.”

The sector champions are:

  • Robin Sheppard, chairman of Bespoke Hotels (hotels)
  • Helen Drury, corporate responsibility manager at Intu (retail)
  • Suzanne Bull MBE, CEO of Attitude is Everything (music)
  • Huw Edwards, public affairs director at UKActive (leisure)
  • Chris Veitch, co-founder of Access New Business (tourism)
  • Dan Brooke, chief marketing & communications officer at Channel 4 (media)
  • Sam Phillips, CMO at Omnicom Media Group (advertising)
  • Michael Connolly, regional training and standards manager at OCS ltd (transport – airports)
  • Jane Cole, managing director at Blackpool Transport Services (transport – buses)
  • Trudie Hills, disability manager, Lloyds Bank (banking)
  • Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of UKIE (gaming)

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