Latest audit from Chris Cammiss: Unique Community Hub Halifax

Here we have the latest audit from Chris Cammiss who was his usual intrepid self, fearless and once again overcame lots of barriers. Together with a bit of support from Katie (Accessible Calderdale) and her husband Andy, Chris was able to get into the building and lo and behold he loved every minute of it.

Read about his experiences here:

Unique Community Hub is a beacon of hope and opportunity in Halifax’s Park Ward. Their tireless dedication to empowering young people is truly inspiring, and a recent audit visit by Chris Cammiss further solidified their remarkable achievements.

Chris, known for his intrepid spirit and unwavering commitment to accessibility, encountered some initial challenges. A narrow, cobbled road with limited parking and confusing Sat Nav directions presented obstacles. Signage for the building was also lacking, reflecting its history of various uses. Finally, a portable ramp provided the necessary access.

Chris being helped up a ramp outside the community hub
Chris on the ramp outside the community hub

A Transformation from the Outside In

However, stepping inside Unique Hub was a revelation. The stark contrast between the exterior and the interior was nothing short of astonishing. Gone were the initial challenges, replaced by a warm, inviting space overflowing with positive energy.

A full range of indoor sports facilities, a coffee bar, a gym, a big screen, and access to a vast outdoor space offered a plethora of activities for young people. This vibrant environment fosters a sense of belonging and provides a safe haven for them to explore their talents and interests.

Chris using a table tennis table as a desk. Taking notes in the Unique Community Hub
Chris using a table tennis table as a desk. Taking notes in the Unique Community Hub

Unique Hub: Empowering Young People and Beyond

Unique Hub’s impact extends far beyond the walls of their facility. Their dedication to youth development in Calderdale is commendable, reaching a significant number of young people and offering a diverse range of activities.

But their work doesn’t stop there. Their inspiring efforts to help others, both locally and abroad, demonstrate their unwavering commitment to creating a positive global impact.

Chris’s audit visit was a resounding success, highlighting the incredible work happening at Unique Community Hub. His enthusiasm for their mission is palpable, and his closing remarks, “What a great day! Looking forward to the next audit so watch this space,” leave us eagerly anticipating their continued progress.

Looking To Get Involved?

Unique Hub thrives on community support. If you’re interested in volunteering, donating, or simply learning more about their incredible initiatives, we encourage you to reach out to them directly. Their website https://teamunique.co.uk/ provides further details about their programs and ways to contribute.

By supporting Unique Hub, you’re investing in the future of Halifax’s youth and fostering a more vibrant, inclusive community.

To join Accessible Calderdale Click Here

Updates on our Access Audits April 2024

How Access Audits Help Make Communities Inclusive

Despite the rain making everything a bit muddy, it’s been a busy year for access audits so far! This has included some fantastic projects, like a local rugby club planning a Changing Places toilet – a big step towards inclusivity.

Making Sporting Sites Accessible for All

The Halifax Rugby Union Club is taking a brilliant initiative by incorporating a Changing Places toilet into their facilities. The venue actively caters to everyone in the community, regardless of their needs, demonstrating a strong vision of inclusivity.

Community Foundation for Calderdale Makes Audits Possible

A big thank you to the Community Foundation for Calderdale (CFFC) for their ongoing support. CFFC funding enabled us to tackle the long waiting list for access audits. People requesting access audits have shown incredible enthusiasm and patience, which is truly overwhelming.

Building Relationships Through Audits

It’s always rewarding to connect with passionate people within the community. Michael from Brighouse Methodist Church exemplifies this perfectly. His regular and polite inquiries, including a full video tour of their facilities, landed them a well-deserved spot on our audit schedule.

Highlighting Accessibility Issues: A Town Hall Tale

A recent access meeting, relocated to Halifax Town Hall at the last minute, turned into an accessibility nightmare. Cobblestones, parking barriers, and a lack of dropped kerbs made navigating the building a challenge. Reaching the meeting room required multiple platform lifts, clearly demonstrating the need for an access audit.

Looking Forward to a Brighter and More Inclusive Future

We’ll keep you updated on our progress as the weather improves and the Year of Culture gets underway. In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about how Access Audits can improve accessibility in your community, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

To join Accessible Calderdale Click Here

Press release: New Changing Places facility at Ogden Water 16.02.24

Press Release from Calderdale Council: New Changing Places facility at Ogden Water

A new Changing Places toilet is now open at Ogden Water Country Park, improving facilities and accessibility at the Calderdale beauty spot, particularly for those with severe disabilities or complex needs.

As part of the Changing Places programme, a partnership between the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and  Muscular Dystrophy UK. Calderdale has been awarded funding for three Changing Places toilets in the borough.

Changing bed in new Ogden Water facility
Changing bed in new Ogden Water facility

The first of these was installed at Todmorden Learning Centre and Community Hub last year and work to install a Changing Places toilet is also underway at the Fire & Water building in Sowerby Bridge.

These fully accessible toilets are for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets. They include specialist equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches, and space for carers.

Ogden Water
Ogden Water

The installation of the Changing Places toilet at Ogden Water complements the wheelchair-friendly routes around the reservoir, making the site a more inclusive place to visit. It also provides the opportunity for people with a range of disabilities to enjoy the countryside and the associated mental and physical health benefits.

The Changing Places facility is currently open from 8am until 4pm, as part of the winter opening hours which will run until late March. The opening times will increase to 6am until 6pm from late March until late October.

Creating a Welcoming Space for Every Visitor at Ogden Water

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Cllr Tim Swift, said:

“Ogden Water Country Park is a popular place for walks, picnics and family outings. We want to make the site as inclusive as possible. To enable more people to enjoy the beautiful countryside and experience the many accompanying benefits.

“There are already wheelchair-friendly routes around the reservoir, but the opening of a new Changing Places toilet will support wider access for those who cannot use standard accessible toilets, ensuring that they, and their family, friends and carers, can enjoy their visit with the peace of mind that there are facilities which meet their needs.”

Ogden Water
Ogden Water

Funding for the Ogden Water facility has been provided by DLUHC in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK. With further support from Calderdale Council and the Friends of Calderdale’s Countryside. Thanks is also given to the Accessible Calderdale Disability Access

Forum for their support and guidance.

For more information about Changing Places toilets and to search for existing facilities across the country,  Click Here

To join Accessible Calderdale Click Here

Double the Impact: How Accessibility & Collaboration Make Sites Shine

Imagine exploring a stunning park, only to encounter steep steps and uneven paths that block your way. This was the reality facing accessibility audits of outdoor spaces until our incredible volunteer, Hakar, joined the team. Combining their boundless energy with tech know-how, we formed a dream duo, conquering green havens like Brackenbed Park and Branston Park twice as efficiently.

But collaboration isn’t just about speed. It’s about harnessing diverse perspectives to craft truly inclusive spaces. Hakar’s agility allowed them to dive into every corner, capturing details invisible from a wheelchair. This, paired with my experience, ensures accessibility isn’t an afterthought, but an integral part of the design.

However, not every audit is smooth sailing. My visit to Grayston Unity highlighted the importance of clear communication. Despite their dedication to inclusion, a missed appointment arose due to miscommunication. Thankfully, their commitment shone through, and the audit revealed a space brimming with potential. Even the newly treated floor, posing a temporary obstacle, couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm for creating an accessible haven for all.

So, what are the key takeaways?

1. Accessibility is for everyone: It’s not just about wheelchairs. Uneven surfaces, poor acoustics, and unclear signage can hinder anyone’s experience.
2. Collaboration is key: Combining different skillsets and perspectives leads to more comprehensive and inclusive solutions.
3. Communication is crucial: Clear and timely communication prevents missed opportunities and ensures everyone is on the same page.
4. Challenges are temporary: Obstacles like wet floors shouldn’t deter us from striving for an accessible future.

By embracing collaboration, clear communication, and a commitment to inclusivity, we can unlock the true potential of every space, ensuring everyone can enjoy the beauty and opportunity it offers. Remember, accessibility isn’t just good for some, it’s good for all. Let’s keep working together to make that a reality.

Links to:-

Brackenbed Park
Grayston Unity

To join Accessible Calderdale Click Here

HBDAF Access Map Press Release December 2023

Disability Access Forum launches revised Hebden Bridge Access Map

Hebden Bridge Disability Access Forum (HBDAF) has just published its updated Step-Free Access Map and Guide to Hebden Bridge town centre. The map was first published in 2018 but is now fully updated to December 2023.

Previous editions have been useful for ​both residents and ​visitors to the town​. Websites for local events, such as the Folk Roots Festival​​​,​ have included links to the map​.​

The new map is available to view and print at this link

http://hebdenroydtowncouncil.gov.uk/disability-forum/access-guide-map.pdf

Paper copies of the map and guide are available from the desk in the Town Hall foyer.

There are some changes to the Step Free Guide, as shops, cafes and other businesses have changed hands since our last update in 2022.

The access map and guide is one of many things which HBDAF does to improve access to life for disabled people in the Hebden Bridge area. Also we consult with businesses, charities and public bodies to improve access to existing and planned places, events and services.

“We need new members to help us with our work, and to share their access suggestions, concerns and lived experiences. We welcome all Deaf, disabled or neurodivergent people and those with long-term health conditions. 

Especially welcome are younger disabled people to join us so we can better represent our diverse local disabled community.

We also welcome non-disabled people as Associates to help us with our work.”

HBDAF meetings are held on the third Monday of the month at 2.30 p.m. in Hebden Bridge Town Hall and via Zoom. Contact sechbdisabilityaccess@gmail.com for details, or phone 01422 844914

HBDAF is a working group of Hebden Royd Town Council

HBDAF Access Map

Working with Hardcastle Crags

Accessibility. Our first meeting by Les Allan – member of the Accessible Calderdale Disability Access Forum

I was picked up by Community Transport for Calderdale and taken to Hardcastle Crags for our initial meeting with Chris Bryerley.

Challenges and Solutions for Visitors with Disabilities

My recent visit to Hardcastle Crags with the Accessible Calderdale Disability Access Forum highlighted some accessibility concerns. Let’s explore these issues and potential solutions to make this beautiful site inclusive for everyone.

Transportation Barriers: Limited Options and Narrow Roads

Reaching Hardcastle Crags itself presented the first hurdle. Limited public transport options, particularly outside peak season, and a narrow access road pose challenges for larger vehicles. We propose exploring solutions like using community transport minibuses, not just for disabled visitors but anyone facing transportation difficulties.

Sensory Overload at Gibson Mill: Seeking a Quieter Meeting Space

The initial meeting location at Gibson Mill proved disruptive due to noise from barking dogs, deliveries, and cafe patrons. This raises the importance of offering alternative meeting spaces with quieter environments, considering both sun exposure and shade preferences to ensure visitor comfort.

Accessibility Beyond the Main Path: Reaching the River for All

The river experience is central to enjoying Hardcastle Crags. We discussed ways to enhance accessibility along the riverside for visitors with mobility limitations, without significant financial outlays. These might include levelling uneven paths, smoothing out surfaces, and creating accessible connections from the main path to the riverside.

Working Together for a More Inclusive Hardcastle Crags

I’m optimistic that by collaborating with the National Trust, we can implement these improvements and make Hardcastle Crags a truly accessible destination for everyone.

By Les Allan

Accessible Hebden Bridge by Nadia Clarke

Recently my mother asked me to join her on a day out and to blog about access in Hebden Bridge for the organization she runs called Visits Unlimited. I was very keen because I know it is important to show families with disabled children and disabled people were is good for access and to provide that information.

Accessible Hebden Bridge

 

I believe it is important to show families with disabled children and disable people where they can go on a day out that can offer them good asscee. Information really make decisions on where to go.

The day started with a breakfast at the lovely, modern and accessible cafe called Squeeze. I met such friendly staff and they were so nice in making sure I enjoyed my food. I ordered a Veggie brunch. Definitely one of the most delicious vegetarian breakfasts I have had and the Latte reminded me of drinking coffee a few years ago in Sydney, Australia when I was on my world trip. I will be back for sure.

Accessible Hebden Bridge

Accessible Hebden Bridge

Accessible Hebden Bridge

Can’t beat that for a breakfast!

Accessible Hebden Bridge

Accessible Hebden Bridge

 

The toilet was large and although it was not a Changing Places toilet a lot of thought had gone into making sure it was accessible.

acessible hebden bridge

 

Well, I know that Hebden Bridge is not the easiest place to get around with a wheelchair because of the old fashionable buildings and I am hoping that the Accessible Project will make a difference and changes will happen to improve the town for disabled people. Having the right attitude and going the extra mile will make a difference even if some of the shops are unable to make big adjustments.

accessible hebden bridge

accessible hebden bridge

After brunch I drove down in my electric wheelchair to Calder Holmes Park. Wow, I loved it huge and amazing accessible park I know. The children who were there were loving it! I went on roundabout and I felt dizzy but good job I was not sick ha ha ha! It brought back many memories of being with my brothers and sisters at Manor Heath Park when we were part of the 1Park for All project making parks inclusive in Calderdale.

After brunch I drove down in my electric wheelchair to Calder Holmes Park. Wow, I loved it huge and amazing accessible park I know. The children who were there were loving it! I went on roundabout and I felt dizzy but good job I was not sick ha ha ha! It brought back many memories of being with my brothers and sisters at Manor Heath Park when we were part of the 1Park for All project making parks inclusive in Calderdale.

accessible hebden bridge

I did a bit of a walk along Canal. It was really beautiful and good access for a short while but I am nervous next to water and felt a bit scared if I would fall in!

accessible hebden bridge

 

Visits Unlimited were busy filming that day and I went to meet them at the accessible Town Hall. There have a lift, disabled toilet, cafe and a lovely huge space outside with my wheelchair.

I will be back to Hebden Bridge this summer!

For more information on:

Squeeze Café https://www.squeezehebden.co.uk

Calder Holmes Park http://www.visitcalderdale.com/attra-calder-holmes-park

The Town Hall http://www.hebdenbridgetownhall.org.uk/

https://visitsunlimited.org.uk/

To see more pictures of my day in Hebden Bridge or to read other blogs that I have written please visit my page by clicking here

Foster Bridge in Hebden Bridge

Foster Bridge

We are listening as much as possible and sending Chris to travel the length and breadth of Hebden Bridge.  Chris soon has a meeting with all interested parties at Foster Bridge (one of Hebden Bridge’s listed bridges).

Foster Bridge is an old packhorse bridge now and in very poor repair, to the extent that anyone with a mobility impairment cannot cross over it. The interesting thing is that over the bridge is a cricket club and an archery club and a lovely extensive river walk with seating and picnic areas AND the bridge is by far the best way to access these wonderful areas.

The Council have funded the renovation of the walk which do meet accessible standards however because the bridge doesn’t allow access for those with mobility impairments there is little chance of being able to reach those services and natural gems on the other side.

As a team we are working incredibly hard but do feel free to make contact with us if you have any questions. We are grateful for your continued support and we look forward to making each action take this project forward.

Hebden Bridge Attracts the Eye of Visit England!

Hebden Bridge is Eye Catching News

Visit-England are very aware of this town accessibility project that we are all working hard on.  Visit England asked our lovely accessibility assessor Chris to recommend a shop and a café for them to contact so they could trial a new web development on their site.

Chris duly obliged, both readily agreed and both were contacted. The cafe business should be well-publicised for their volunteering and yet again another big arrow on the map for Hebden Bridge.

The work between Visits Unlimited, Hebden Bridge town council and business owners has attracted national coverage.

A huge thank you to those businesses who’ve come forward and shown a great deal of interest to help make this town more accessible and welcome many more visitors.

Katie, Chris and team!

Visit England

 

Accessible Hebden Bridge. Making the most of these hills and curd tarts.

Enthusiasm, energy and plentiful bakers, a days work here is a pleasure.

I’ve been travelling to Hebden once or twice a week for several weeks now and enjoying every minute of it. The car seems to find its own way over the tops now and I especially look forward to choosing appropriate driving music to suit the day.

People are beginning to recognise me around town now. Sometimes they already know who I am when I introduce myself, sometimes they ask if I was the person seen hovering around outside the day before, sometimes they have been warned by friends I visited earlier!
Everyone is extremely friendly and eager to learn, especially when I tell them they can claim for anything I recommend as that’s the whole purpose of the scheme! They are up for purchasing ramps and suchlike, up for staff training, new signage, new procedures – anything goes!

I’ve found the residents to be a very resilient bunch. After hearing some of their horror stories about the last couple of major floods, any changes I suggest seem a pleasant diversion rather than yet another imposition. Not one long face yet!
The worst aspect of the scheme for me is that sometimes I can’t help. A shop owner may have asked for an audit, is totally committed to following advice to make things better and is willing to undertake extra work, but I may see immediately that the ramp required would reach into the road, the steep path would require a fortune to reconfigure, there is just no room to fit a vertical lift etc etc.
And, paradoxically, my (sensible) advice on access sometimes conflicts with the (sensible) advice on flood defence. We’re both right but we can’t both have what we want.

I’ve been asked twice if I’m writing a novel when seen collating my notes on the general environment.
I’m much fitter than I’ve been for several years pushing my wheelchair around a very hilly town, along miles of tow paths and over some very demanding bridges.
But I’m not losing the weight I expected due to an excess of curd tarts. Being a proud Yorkshireman now living and working in Manchester, I have resigned myself to the fact that I will not find this delicacy in any local bakers, but now I’m forced to pass bakers with shelves full of them. I just have to make up for lost time I’m only human!

Hebden Bridge 

Making Hebden Bridge into an Accessible Destination

Creating an accessible destination.

When you have a beautiful and sensory rich town like Hebden Bridge we want people to come and experience it. We know that when people enjoy it they then share it.  It isn’t easy for everyone and Visits Unlimited have been invited to support the local community and business to make Hebden Bridge a more accessible destination. We want to make Hebden Bridge an even greater experience for everyone because we know Hebden Bridge cares.

Improving accessibility improves the economy.

Saturday 3rd September was the launch of our new project #AccessibleHebden at the Hebden Bridge Town Hall.  We are truly delighted to be working in close partnership with the ‘Hebden Bridge Partnership’ and Calderdale Community Foundation. We will be working together over the next 6 months to help make Hebden Bridge an attraction for everyone to enjoy.

As a national Community Interest Company we have delivered both disability awareness and customer service training across the country for a number of years to many small businesses, venues, attractions, museums and heritage sites within the tourism sector.

We know that supporting a venue to become accessible to a wide range of impairments is much more than doorways and ramps.  It is about a positive can-do attitude; finding solutions to participation and inclusion; and imbedding a warm welcome approach throughout the organisation, its staff and volunteers.

 

What are the benefits of becoming a more Accessible Destination

More than one in six people in England and Wales having an ‘activity limiting’ health problem or disability. British and international visitors from this market segment currently spend over £3 billion on overnight tourism trips in England each year and UK disabled people spend up to £12bn on trips out this is especially relevant for businesses. In short, improving your accessibility could improve your business. Being an Accessible Destination will raise the profile of Hebden Bridge through social media and will really put you on the map of places that are going that are going that extra mile and are welcoming to people with a range of impairments.

Long term vision

It also goes beyond being good for business. It supports your own members of staff/volunteers who may themselves have a disability or one of their friends or family. The Hebden Bridge and Calder Valley community will hugely benefit, as will the elderly and families with buggies chance we have placed a community focus on this project.

What will businesses gain?

There are three aspects all businesses need to address to provide access for all:

  • Customer service and training – being disability aware with the right attitude and confidence to serve all customers
  • Information and marketing – providing detailed information on the accessibility of your facilities and services and making this information easy to find
  • Physical facilities – making reasonable adjustments to buildings and facilities so they are easy for everyone to enter and move around

 

The cost of becoming an Accessible Destination

It may be surprising to know that some of challenges can be resolved in a low cost and creative way and this we have great experience with.

Each organisation will be able to apply for a grant of around £2000 to help with some of their challenges around meeting the needs of not only disabled tourists but also their families, their friends and of course local disabled people.  The results of creating these changes will affect the whole community and the results can only be beneficial.

Do you want your local business to support your town to be an Accessible Destination?

If the answer is yes then please contact myself; Katie Clarke by email; Katie@visitsunlimited.org.uk for a copy of the expression of interest for the FREE Access Audit.

Or you can pick up a hard copy at the Watermark or the Town Hall in Hebden Bridge and return it there or post it to:

Katie Clarke

Visits Unlimited

15 Savile Park Gardens

Halifax

HX1 2XL

Our auditor Chris Cammiss will be meeting many people on his travels whilst doing our Access Audits. He will become a familiar face in the community.         Chris is a very experienced auditor and will offer practical and reasonable recommendations for you.

Calderdale Community Foundation will administer the grants and their aim is to make this as easy as possible. What this means is there are no long-winded forms to fill consequently this making it an easy process.  Businesses and organisations can give a phone call to the Foundation and someone will help with the process.

 

Thank you

We are pleased to give something back to the Hebden Bridge community. Each member of our team were involved in supporting friends and the community during the boxing day floods 2015.

We love the motto of the community and the Watermark Fund. We are very proud to be working with so many good people including the new Disability Access Reference Group, Hebden Royd Town Council’s Mayor Tony Hodgins, the Neighbourhood Planning Committee, and businesses, organisations, venues and local people.

After the floods in Hebden Bridge we are really pleased to be working on a new project in the Calder Valley.

We will be working with the Hebden Bridge Partnership and Calderdale Community Foundation over the next few months and helping increase tourism to this beautiful town whilst at the same time improving accessibility.

Chris our access auditor describes the project: “Much of my regular work involves intensive study of a specific site. The prospect here of working with many people at a multitude of different locations is very exciting. I’m keen to help local businesses improve their accessibility in all sorts of ways, and to focus their energy so Hebden Bridge becomes a beacon of best practice in accessibility.

I’m hoping to work with as many local disabled people as possible so we can set in motion permanent changes in attitude which will mean Hebden will continue to progress long after the project has ended.

As a long-term permanent wheelchair-user, I’ve gained lots of personal experience of access issues as a very active tourist both by myself and with my large family, so this will be an excellent opportunity to pass on much of what I’ve learned.

Disabled people form a large percentage of the population – around 15%. With this population ageing the figure will rise. News spreads faster than ever these days so successful outings to welcoming, accessible venues will soon attract more and more visitors. I really want to see Hebden Bridge benefit here, rewarding their positive attitude in approaching Visits Unlimited.”