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Hannah has lived in Basingstoke since 2012 and has been an avid volunteer since she moved here. Her work has mainly been with the Willis Museum, the Access for All Working Group and Disability Forum Shop Mobility Basingstoke - Busy lady!

“I’ve always liked Basingstoke Town Centre, ever since I was little because it has easy access for wheelchairs and has an indoor shopping centre. These were a big draw for me when I started to live independently 10 years ago.”

“I’ve volunteered for the Willis Museum every week for the last 10 years because I absolutely love it. The museum has been a big part of my life here, and I feel so privileged to be part of it. Just being in such a historical building that highlights the town's history is amazing, let alone getting to meet the wide variety of Basingstoke residents I welcome through the door.”

Alongside her volunteer roles, Hannah supports her local community in plenty of other ways; 

“I’m proud to be on the committee for the Access for All Working group; we’re an independent group of volunteers that look into access issues in the Basingstoke and Deane area. Recently, we approached Sports Direct to ask them to make access around their store easier for wheelchair users and thankfully, they agreed! 

This was one of the biggest issues I found coming out of lockdown; whilst the shops being open again was terrific, the large plastic screens and one-way systems were a nightmare for those of us with mobility issues. It seemed like Equality went back a step.”

Outside of her volunteering, Hannah enjoys nothing more than simply staying active and having a laugh! Being a wheelchair user herself with reduced mobility, she found several ways to prioritise this.

“Before lockdown, I attended monthly exercise sessions with the Basingstoke Stroke Association. It was a great way to meet new people, stay active and exercise comfortably. I also loved my Friday nights at the Irish Centre; the Basingstoke Improvisation Society would meet there, and we would chat, act, be silly and just have fun! It was a great way to meet others which for me is so important. I love talking, interacting and socialising and I don’t ever want to feel my disability stops me from being who I want to be!”

Lockdown allowed Hannah to explore much more of the local area than she had before, and she was surprised to find plenty of places were perfectly accessible for people with reduced mobility.

“Like most people, I went on more local walks around Basingstoke than I had ever really done before. One of my favourite finds would have to be the Churchill Way Allotments and seeing the horses! I also spent a lot of time enjoying views from Crabtree, exploring Eastrop and Black Dam Ponds and trying not to get too freaked out in the Holy Ghost Cemetry! Once Festival Place was open again, I found my new favourite shop, The Gallery; I could spend hours in there! It really helped that it was accessible; it made for a much more comfortable experience.”

One of the nicest things she’s found about living in Basingstoke is that everyone seems to know each other.

“The six degrees of separation theory is very true for Basingstoke! Everyone seems to know one another, and I really like that. In lockdown, you could also see that people were even more friendly than usual; perhaps because of the social limitations, but it didn’t seem ‘odd’ to talk to a stranger then. Sadly, I think now restrictions have eased, this has reverted back, but I’m glad I made the friends I did.

By reputation, Basingstoke is sometimes known as a ‘rough’ town to live in. I would like to say this is not apparent from day to day life and throughout the town centre compared to other places in Hampshire. I love living here and the opportunities it has given me.

Moving to Basingstoke was a great decision, and I’m proud of my town.

Hannah, March 2022