Shawn Mendes Concert Experience

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

Today’s post is a bit of a relaxed, chilled out one…I think I need that at the moment with all the work I have. I wanted to write it a lot sooner than this, but there’s not enough hours in the day for me to do everything, I seem to be saying that a lot recently. I was super excited about writing this post as I think it’ll be really nice to look back on in the future and it’s something that I’ve never wrote about on my blog before. This post is part of mine and Elin’s #SeeingThroughSightLoss series where we discuss all things visual impairment, disability and our meet ups. So this post is all about the Shawn Mendes concert we went to together back in April.

Before we get into this post, I spoke about the passenger assistance problems that I had whilst travelling to and from Manchester for this concert in my previous post so make sure you check that out.

On Friday  28 April 2017, me and my best friend Elin went to see Shawn Mendes in concert as part of his Illuminate world tour at Manchester Arena. We booked the tickets as soon as they came out back in September so it had been a long time coming for us.
(Photo of my concert ticket)

Me and Elin are huge fans of Shawn so we knew that this would be an unforgettable experience!

This was Elin’s first concert so I felt really lucky to experience this with her. I feel very lucky as I’ve been to a lot of concerts, I am so grateful that I’ve had such wonderful experiences and opportunities.

Shawn was a bit of a new experience for me too though as me and Elin were attending the gig on our own, so we needed assistance to get to and from our seats. As I previously said, we booked our tickets in September and enquired about assistance whilst doing so. We booked our tickets through the accessible booking line for disabled access tickets, meaning that we didn’t have the hassle of the normal ticket rush. The disabled access line is for people that require disabled tickets, for example, if you need a companion with you or have specific requirements because of an impairment or disability. When trying to get tickets, we were both calling throughout the day and neither of us could get through, so Elin emailed to let them know and they called her back and booked our tickets that way which we both thought was really nice. The staff were extremely happy to accommodate and told us to arrange assistance 4 weeks prior to the concert which we did.

We also booked our train tickets and hotel back in February, before they were all fully booked.

 

The day finally arrived and let’s just say, excited was an understatement!

After the travel disaster, we went to the hotel, quickly unpacked, re-did our make-up, and headed down to the bar/restaurant area to grab something quick to eat.

Once we had finished, we headed across the road to the arena! Our hotel was only a short walk from the arena so it was very handy and a lovely hotel too.

When we got to the arena, there were queues everywhere but luckily, we had been given instructions to go to city rooms as we had disabled access tickets and required assistance from a member of staff so luckily, we missed out on these. There was a bit of a mix up at the start as the steward didn’t fully understand why we wanted assistance and didn’t quite get that our Mums weren’t going to the concert with us, as they were with us at the time, but once that was sorted two stewards took me and Elin to our seats and told us what to do if we needed anything. We were both really impressed so far. As we entered the arena the support act, James TW, had just come on stage so we were there in time to see his set which was so so good! I’m definitely a huge fan of James now. Like I said, I’ve been to a lot of concerts with some good, and not so good support acts, but James was by far one of the better ones that I have seen. We had really good seats as well which was a bonus.

After James had been on, me and Elin were even more excited for Shawn if that was even possible! Around 15 minutes or so later, Shawn Mendes finally came on stage. The introduction started off with some highlights from his career which was really sweet then he started with his latest single, ‘There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back’.

The crowd went absolutely crazy! Shawn performed songs from both his albums which was a really nice mixture. You could hear the crowd singing throughout every song, it was such a good feeling. Shawn noticed this too and at one point he said “I can hear the British accent”.

One of the things that I liked the most was that he did little speeches before some of the songs, explaining what they were about, thanked us fans and also gave some words of wisdom and inspiration, they were really motivational and quite emotional too! I’ll most definitely have them on repeat for a while.

About half way through the concert, people started to stand up on chairs and me and Elin wondered what was going on. A lovely girl in front of us told us that Shawn had moved to the middle of the arena behind us but as we couldn’t see we didn’t know! We think he was in the crowd somewhere because of their reaction but like I said, as we couldn’t see we didn’t know exactly what he was doing! #BlindGirlProblems

He did an incredible acoustic set and I think at that point you could really hear how powerful the crowd were. Once he had done that acoustic set, he moved back to the main stage and carried on with his live band. His vocals blew you away, they were incredible!

We wanted you to have a bit of the concert experience so we put together some clips of the audio that we recorded. Make sure you check it out below​

I could go into detail about the concert but I’d probably bore you all. So I’ll sum it up!

His vocals were phenomenal, his stage presence was extremely good too, basically he’s such a talented guy. He seems like such a genuine, down to earth person and is so appreciative of his fans and the fact that he’s living his dream – he’s proof that if you really want to achieve something then strive for it and hard work really does pay off! If you get chance to go and see him live then I would highly recommend going!

Once the concert had finished, a steward came to assist me and Elin back to city rooms to meet our Mums. We were extremely impressed at how quickly he arrived despite how busy it was, as it was a sold out concert so we expected to be waiting a while for someone but we were wrong. He waited with us until we had met our Mums so he knew that we were ok. Overall, the assistance from the stewards was excellent. I’d definitely attend a concert and book this assistance again. After the disasters of the passenger assistance on trains, it did restore some of my faith in such systems put in place for disabled people.

 

I honestly had the most amazing night singing my heart out to every single song with my best friend! It’s such a good feeling, and as you can gather, concerts make me extremely happy. I’d had a rather stressful few months leading up to the gig with uni work, but it was such a great way of getting rid of stress and celebrating handing in my dissertation! I’m not going to lie, I came away feeling even more motivated to finish my last two assignments.

After the concert, we went back to the hotel and had a drink in the bar, me and Elin listened to some of the recordings that we did during the concert and had one of our usual girly chats.

The next day, we had breakfast and mainly discussed how much we wanted to go back to the gig and how much we needed another Shawn concert in our lives and  packed our stuff ready to head home. We spent the rest of the day going back to the arena to take some photos and then had a wander into Manchester.


(photo of me and Elin)

Me and Elin wanted to make the most of the time that we had as we’d be leaving in a few hours. It was very hard to say goodbye!

Seeing Shawn on his Illuminate World Tour has given us some amazing memories which we’ll cherish for a long time, it is most definitely a night that I know we’ll never forget. Going to a concert without a sighted person was a first for me and I’m so pleased to say that it was a success and a brilliant experience!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! Make sure you check out Elin’s post to see what she thought of the concert.

If you have any questions about the assistance, the concert in general or anything else then please do leave them in the comments.

I’ll hopefully be back soon with another post.

Holly x

Advertisements

Failings in Passenger Assistance

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well.

This post is part of mine and Elin’s #SeeingThroughSightLossSeries where we discuss everything relating to disability, visual impairment and also often our meet ups. Today’s post is going to be a bit of a mixed bag – I am going to discuss my own personal experiences and from this, I hope to raise awareness.

I try to be positive on my blog as I feel that it generally reflects the person I am, and I don’t sugar-coat anything that I write, therefore this post is no exception but I just want you to know that everything that I’m discussing is true and honest, not exaggerated, made up or fake. As I said, I try to be positive on my blog, but I do sometimes address the negative aspects of having a disability too and I think that’s important. Today I want to tell you about an experience that I have had recently, but one that’s reoccurred on several occasions and sadly, that’s one of the harsh realities of being blind or having a disability. What I’m talking about is passenger assistance on public transport, in this case, trains. For those of you that aren’t familiar with passenger assistance, it’s where a member of staff from a train station helps a disabled or elderly person IE people in wheelchairs, or those with a visual impairment like myself. For example, They can assist people on and off trains, take people to a meeting point to meet others, to a taxi or even a connecting train. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

That’s what I thought when I tried it for the first time. But this was soon the opposite – I was left on a train, had I not have been with my Dad who came with me whilst I was trying it for the first time, I’d have been left on a train to Southampton, over 100 miles away from my original destination. Scary thought, right? But this sort of thing happens too often. You can read about my first time trying passenger assistance here.

After that time, I thought that it would just be a mistake and wouldn’t happen to me again but that couldn’t have been further away from the truth, in the last 9 months the so called “passenger assistance” has failed me each time that I have required it.

I want to tell you about the most recent experience that I had. On Friday 28 April 2017, I was travelling to Manchester to meet my best friend Elin (My Blurred World) as we were going to see Shawn Mendes in concert and I was extremely excited! I pre-booked my hotel, train tickets and passenger assistance back in February so that it was all done, and I knew that I would hopefully get assistance. My Mum was travelling with me, as she was going out for a meal with Elin’s Mum whilst we were at the gig and as Manchester isn’t familiar to me and Elin, they were our eyes so to speak.

(photo of a train ticket)

You may be asking why I needed passenger assistance when my Mum was with me, I wanted to try it on this route as it’s one that I’ll hopefully be doing more often so wanted to try it whilst someone sighted was with me. So please do not tell me that I was abusing the system because I wasn’t, and I genuinely needed the experience for future trips.

I started my journey at York station where I went to the information desk, where I was met by an assistant a few minutes later. This part went well, the assistant helped me onto the train and assisted me in finding my seat; they did everything that they were supposed to do.

When I arrived at Manchester Victoria station, this is where the problems occurred. I was on an overcrowded train where people were stood up in the carriage, I appreciate that this was on the day of a rail strike so people were probably using alternative trains but as a blind person, it made it practically impossible for me to get through these people using my long cane. If my Mum hadn’t have been with me, it would have been extremely difficult for me to carry my luggage and navigate through an overcrowded carriage with my cane. We waited a couple of minutes to see whether a member of staff was going to come onto the train to assist me, as time quickly ticked by, we  soon realised that they hadn’t turned up yet again. We got off the train as it seemed that there was no assistant for me like I had pre-booked. Once we were off the train and stood on the platform, my Mum looked at a person who seemed to be a member of staff, and the lady came over and asked if I needed assistance, I explained that I had in fact pre-booked assistance as I was blind, for her to inform me that she only had two people on my train down for luggage assistance, rather than one with a severe visual impairment. I knew that the information she had told me was wrong as I knew that my passenger assistance details stated that I had a visual impairment and had the right instructions for the member of staff.

We went to the information centre at Manchester Victoria station to find out exactly what had happened. I knew that the assistance had been done right as I was there when the person booked it for me back in February. The man at the information point checked the system and told me that it was in fact all correct, and there had been clearly some mix up in communication. He said that they were short staffed but agreed with me in that this was no excuse. He told me to complain when I returned home the following day.

Despite all of this, I wanted to enjoy the Shawn Mendes concert and the time with my best friend so that’s exactly what we did! A post on the gig will be coming soon – this would have been too long if me and Elin would have just done one post each on the weekend overall!

 

On the Saturday, we left Manchester in the afternoon and me and my mum parted ways with Elin and her Mum and headed off to catch our trains.

Me and my Mum went to the information point again, in order for me to get my assistance. I informed the man at the information desk that I had pre-booked passenger assistance, the man told me that the system was down so would try to see if any assistants were available. Luckily there was, but had I been on my own, this could have been a real issue and so much worse.

When we arrived back at York station, there was no assistance there to come and help me off the train again. We waited for the train to pull out and there was no one there as my Mum and Dad observed this. A couple of minutes later, a woman walked onto the platform so we asked if she was my assistant, and she said yes, but she was waiting for me to “wave a stick or a dog in the air”. How can I wave a cane in the air when I don’t know where a person is, or if there’s anyone there waiting for me? Had I have been on my own, I’d have had to struggle to get off the train by myself along with my luggage, or even worse, ended up in Newcastle which is a long way from where I needed to be.

I wrote to the train company, First Transpenine Express who informed me that they couldn’t deal with this issue as they do not manage Manchester Victoria station so have passed it onto Northern Rail who would be in touch with me. And guess what? I haven’t heard from Northern Rail yet, despite trying to contact them several times myself.

So clearly, there’s a failing in the system somewhere.

I find it appalling that train companies and members of staff do not communicate, misread information, leave disabled passengers on trains and ignore complaints. Like I said, this is one of many incidents that I’ve had when using passenger assistance and it really isn’t fair.

Sadly, I’m not on my own when experiencing these issues, most or if not all of my blind or visually impaired friends have had the same experiences across the country. Make sure you check out Elin’s post as she gives you an account on her experience of passenger assistance and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

I’ve wrote this post to highlight some of the issues and struggles that people like myself face when wanting to do something simple like travelling independently on public transport. Just because we have a visual impairment, or other disability it should not be incredibly hard and cause endless frustrations for us. We claim to live in a (fairly) equal society but is this really the case when such problems arise and are a regular occurrence?

I know that here in the UK, we are extremely lucky to have services in place such as passenger assistance and I am extremely grateful for this service but it does not make it right when such systems fail.

I believe that disabled people should have the same rights to travel on trains independently like non-disabled people, but the reality of this is that I feel that this is not the case at all. This is becoming a regular occurrence for me and many others and I do not feel that this should be the case at all.

It is frustrating, and very exhausting for me and my parents to have to keep contacting train companies because of continuous failings, lack of communication or assistance.

I know that writing this blog post will not change the policies and procedures that are put in place, but I hope it highlights some of the issues that disabled people face.

I want to be like my sighted friends and family and travel independently but how can I trust such services when they keep letting me down?

I’m sorry if this was a bit of a rant but I really hope it has helped raise awareness.

I’d really appreciate it if you could share this post so that we can at least try to make a difference!

If you are a disabled person and have had similar experiences then feel free to leave them in the comments.

I’m sorry if this post has offended any of you – that was never my intention.

As always, thank you for reading, I’ll be back soon with another post!

Holly x