Many venues, events and attractions offer free or discounted PA, carer or companion entry. You may need to prove you are disabled, for example by providing a copy of your disability benefits paperwork.
If the seating capacity for an event is very limited, venues may not offer free companion tickets.
Some attractions do offer discounts, special access or free carer entry but do not advertise this. Contact companies to check if they offer companion discounts or free entry. Or ask in person if buying tickets on the day.
Cinema and theatre
Most UK cinemas accept a CEA Card. This gives you free entry for 1 companion when you buy a cinema ticket. Check if you’re eligible and register for the card online or by post. It costs £6 for a year.
Check venue or event websites for information on companion or PA tickets. You could also contact venues to ask about accessible facilities and check if they have accessible viewing areas that will meet your needs. For example, it’s accessible for your specific wheelchair or has enough space for you and your PA.
Many sports teams and venues have companion or carer free entry schemes. How this works will differ between clubs and venues. Depending on the sport, you might need to become a club member and prove you are disabled.
To find out about discounts and accessible facilities, check venue and club websites or search online ‘disabled [sport] supporters [your team]’.
The National Trust lets you bring 1 or 2 carers or companions for free. You can ask for free carer entry on the day or get an Essential Companion card.
The companion card can help if you feel anxious about asking or prefer not to ask when you arrive. You just show the card to reception staff and your companion or PA will get free entry straight away. You’ll still need to pay for your own entry if you’re not a member.
Check websites for free or discounted companion tickets for paid exhibitions.
Travel to events and activities
If you’re eligible for a Disabled Persons Railcard, you can get a third off the travel cost for you and your companion. The Disabled Persons Railcard website also includes discounted offers on attractions, accommodation and restaurants.
You could also bring a packed lunch or your own food and drink. Check the venue rules in advance. If it’s not allowed and you need to bring specific food because of a health condition, contact the company about making a reasonable adjustment for you to do this.
Accessibility of venues
You have a right to expect companies to do their best to provide equal access to events and activities, like cinema screenings, concerts and sports events. These rights are in the Equality Act 2010.
For leisure activities, equal access could include:
free entry for someone who’s supporting you
accessible seating or viewing areas
access to audio-description or subtitles
What is offered will depend on what reasonable adjustments the company can make and afford. You may find it helpful to talk to them about alternatives. For example, a discounted ticket for your companion rather than free entry.
Contact the company to give feedback about your experience or to complain about a problem. You should do this first to give the company a chance to make changes.
It could help to give them suggestions when you give feedback or complain. Explain how they can make their venue, ticketing system or event more accessible to you. This may help give them a better understanding of what they need to change.
Some companies will have a formal procedure for giving feedback or complaining about any issues with disabled access. If they do not have a specific procedure, follow the general complaints process. This should be on their website.
It can help to check what they say about venue or event accessibility on their website. If they claim they are accessible for certain access needs but you experienced barriers, it’s important to complain. They have promised something they did not provide.
You have a right to equal access to entertainment and leisure activities. You’re not ‘being awkward’ asking for accessibility.
If contacting the company directly has not helped or they have not responded, social media can help you to raise awareness of:
problems with accessibility
extra costs of disabled people
It can also be effective in getting a quick response from a company.
Warning Contact the company directly first
Make sure you raise the issue through email or the company’s complaints process first. You should give them a chance to fix the problem.
If they have not taken action, you could use social media to:
contact the company using Twitter or Facebook, as the threat of bad publicity can make companies take action
write about your personal experiences on a blog or in a letter to a newspaper
join other people experiencing similar problems and start a campaign
You might also want to follow other disability campaigners on Twitter, such as: