Sunderland's disabled community could benefit from its bid to be UK City of Culture, says one of its community champions.
Ashleigh Ritchie, 36, from Pennywell, has lived in Sunderland all her life, and is a keen volunteer, supporting equality and disability training in various businesses.
She wanted to become a City of Culture community champion because she believes it will create greater opportunities for people with disabilities to access cultural events and activities.
“I wanted to get involved in the bid for culture so I could represent the disabled community," she said.
"I think the bid would open up doors for people who never even thought they could get involved in culture,” she explains.
While she recognises the strides being made in the cultural sphere, with the National Glass Centre and Empire theatre both hugely successful, she feels strongly that the people of Sunderland want more.
“I just think people don’t realise that the people of Sunderland do like a lot of culture.”
She hopes a successful bid will enable better development and accessibility throughout the city, and feels with these two components, the cultural sphere can continue to grow and thrive.