The Staying Inn
An online accessible pub for Deaf and Disabled people
The Staying Inn is a virtual pub connecting Deaf and Disabled people who are isolated during COVID-19. Inspired by the online communities and spaces created by disabled activists, The Staying Inn hosts inclusive sessions via accessible video calls to reduce social isolation, create connections and share skills.
The pub was created at the end of March 2020 as the UK entered lockdown. Its original mission was to reach out to disabled people and those with health conditions who are shielding, facing increased barriers to participating in their communities and at risk of loneliness. However, The Staying Inn is also breaking down the social barriers between disabled and non-disabled people. By creating an inclusive, welcoming and accessible space disabled and non-disabled people are learning about each other’s lives and building relationships that would not have otherwise been possible.
We currently have over 500 subscribers to our newsletter and reach an average of 80 to 100 people per week with our events. Our sessions are accessible via Zoom, with live captions and British Sign Language interpretations. They include a regular weekly pub quiz, crafting, talks and interviews with disabled activists, as well as offering support through our workshops, lessons and advocacy sessions. By committing to an inclusive atmosphere The Staying Inn is also a positive space for other protected characteristic groups, including the LGBTQ+ community.
Previous sessions include
- British Sign Language & Deaf awareness event
- Disability Rights Workshop
- Crafting workshops: focusing on accessible crafting & wellbeing
- Accessible Dance & Movement session
- Pride at the Pub: a LGBTQ+ pub quiz
- Accessible Technology hosted by two visually impaired tech experts
Through fundraising efforts, The Staying Inn has raised over £6,000 to pay for access costs. From early April, each session has had British Sign Language interpreters and live captions. We also regularly pay disabled contributors who host sessions and share their skills. This is particularly important given the current economic climate and the usually precarious nature of disabled people’s employment. It also gives disabled people the opportunity to develop a new skillset, build confidence and network with others around shared interests or goals.
The pub is organised through a network of disabled volunteers who offer their time and experience to host events, provide technical support, organise access adjustments, run social media and the website. The Landlady is Dr Amy Kavanagh, a visually impaired activist and campaigner. Through her twitter and media work Amy raises awareness of living with visual impairment as she navigates her life in London, the impact of anxiety and her experiences as a bisexual disabled woman. Amy has secured press coverage of The Staying Inn and is continuing to network to open it up to more audiences.