Accessible Tourism – The Bottom Line

Accessible tourism, is it worth it in a business model?

Is your business part of today’s competitive tourist industry within the UK? Are you achieving your accessible tourism status?

Are you looking at raising your profile, getting a head of the game and being competitive with others?

Good, because accessible tourism is a multi million pound industry.

 

Are you in the market of accessible tourism?

As a business owner myself I understand the main goals of any business and that is growth and sustainability.  As a business owner I work hard to achieve these goals just like you do because I want my business to grow.

There are many ways to grow a business and many ways to make it sustainable. A business coach and they’ll show you the way around the markets and how to focus your attention on attracting the current customers.

Professional Marketers will show you round the latest trends of products, services or technology. Still there’s one section many are still missing out on.

Every year new tourist attractions are opening up, each applying contemporary designs within their buildings and updated customer care experiences.

This runs the risk of leaving current and outdated businesses and tourist venues behind. Either businesses modernise to meet their customer’s needs in today’s market or they risk missing out resulting in lower turnover. .

What I’d like to do is bring your attention to why this section of the market – accessible tourism – is so powerful:
  • 65 million people in the UK (source: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs).
  • There are around 12 million registered disabled people within the UK (that’s about 1 in 5 people), DWP 2014.
  • There are 2 million people with sight problems in the UK (dlf.org.uk). Is your business and visitor attraction able to support people who are visually impaired?
  • 9% of the UK population is a wheelchair user (www.disabled-world.com). Have you made adaptions both on the outside and within your building?
  • There are 770,000 registered disabled children under the age of 16 in the UK. Does your attraction welcome children? dlf.org.uk
  • More than 11 million people within the UK experience some form of hearing loss that equates to 1 in 6 people (actiononhearingloss.org.uk). Have you considered this at your reception, service or support desk as much as supporting your visitors around the attraction to remain orientated, involved and comfortable?

 

Accessible tourism is a big market so how do you get in on it?

  • Does your first point of contact which could be your website or over the telephone information service, give clear information around your accessibility information?
  • Is your car parking and queuing for entry managed well?
  • Are your disabled toilets accessible? Clearly signed? Well managed and a good size?
  • Are your signs clear and are they in brail?
  • Do you have different levels? Do you have lifts and if so are they well maintained? Do you have ramps available? There may only be a couple of steps between one floor and the next but this proves to be a huge obstacle for someone in an electric wheel chair.
  • Are rails provided along the stairs?
  • Are door handles at a height that can be accessed by wheel chair users?
  • Are your reception desks at a height that wheel chair users can write on if needed? If not can an area be provided for this?
  • Are your fire, health and safety policies all up to date?

 

Yes, there’s so much to think about and that is why we at Visits Unlimited provide an excellent service to support you to make the changes to your venue. We are a specialised team brought together to support venue’s and businesses to match their service and environment provisions with visitors disability access needs.

From access audits to training within customer service and the visitor’s journey, our approach is designed to provide you with the complete package.

 

What you focusing on accessible tourism means to people like me.

For me as a parent it goes deeper than a business model, as a parent of a child with learning and physical disabilities; finding a venue or attraction that allowed us to have a fun family day was always our top priority and in the early days, this wasn’t easily achieved. The result of us finding one where we felt respected as a family unit and supported was when we found an attraction that really worked for us we did the obvious, we returned. We went back because we knew it and we knew it worked. Then we did the second obvious thing, we told our friends. We weren’t passing tourists, we went back and we would use that mighty powerful marketing tool called word of mouth.

 

Yes yes yes to accessible tourism

So the question I asked at the beginning was; is the accessible tourism market worth it for a business to invest in?

Businesses are required by law to make fair adjustments to ensure that accessibility for disabled people is provided and fairness must always be at the centre of any business model, however you can’t ignore that accessibility makes good business sense regarding profit.

An attraction is built to provide an experience and the power of word of mouth. Word of mouth through groups, social media and reviews in this current climate is beyond powerful.

It doesn’t take a moment to type into my browser to see poor reviews of attractions written by those who’ve experienced a lack of accessibility.

Going back to the statistics at the beginning of this post, if you don’t make you’re visitor centre accessible you’re potentially excluding around 1 in 5 visitors.

Do Something Different

Visits unlimited are launching a new project ‘Do Something Different’.

Do Something Different will be a web based resource aimed at families with children and young people. There will be a wide range of disabilities, plus disabled people and their carers/Personal Assistants.   The resource will feature a selection of venues, attractions, parks, walks, short breaks and will be for anyone who is looking for suggestions on interesting and varied days out. These will be based in the Yorkshire and Humber area.

Do Something Different will provide information on accessibility and family friendly places to visit each with a welcome rating. The resource will be easy to use and have downloadable information on each venue.

What ‘Do Something Different’ will replace

Currently families end up spending hours trawling the internet, looking for a place to go that is going to meet their needs. Families have told us that websites often do not have the relevant information and their access statements may not be family friendly.  Without the right information it can be off-putting even attempting to go somewhere new.   Families need to trust that when they go to all the effort of planning, getting their and visiting a venue that they have a successful and memorable day out.

Visits Unlimited survey asked families what was important to them when planning a day out or a holiday. Families told us that their priority is a friendly welcome and well trained staff; secondly they felt that good information was important to plan properly and know what to expect on arrival. Another important point is that there is good accessible facilities including Changing Places toilets, parking and helpful cafes make a good experience.

Do Something Different is a great initiative for families who will be able to access reliable information easily and be confident of a successful day out in Yorkshire and Humber. We hope that this will be used not only by Yorkshire families but will also encourage families from across the country to visit this beautiful region. All of our days out will be based on the recommendations of families with children with complex needs. But it doesn’t stop there. Venues will be contacted and staff supported to make sure that they live up to the expectations of our families and offer them a warm friendly welcome.

To get started we are launching the DSD questionnaire to get as many suggestions as possible from across Yorkshire and Humber. People can complete the survey through our facebook group ‘Visits Unlimited’ or on the website visitsunlimited.org.uk

We will be running the survey over the summer to get up to date information about the places you have been and loved visiting with you family.

Service with a smile is key for great service.

What is the one thing that makes a trip worthwhile? How did the day out make you feel? What do you remember most when you go home?

Katie Clark shares her thoughts.

I know that for me it is the small things that make a difference and it is usually to do with feeling welcomed. The smile at the reception when I go in after having had a tricky journey and not being able to park near to the entrance as the places were all full. Or after getting lost and the sat nav told me that “you have arrived at your destination” and I knew only too well that the country lane with a couple of houses on either side was not where I had hoped to end up.

A smile really makes a difference. To be greeted by a friendly and confident member of staff who is not put off by 6 children plus an electric wheelchair makes all the difference.

A few words like “is there anything I can do to help?” is like music to the ears. What hits me is that this does not happen enough. In fact as it is quite rare it is actually not just music to my ears but a symphony playing at the Royal Albert Hall. Sometimes the shock of someone asking me takes me aback and I need a few minutes to compose myself to answer. I could say “oh no I am fine thanks” as that is rather British but actually instead I say “oh thank you, that is great. Not at the moment but I will get back to you if I do!” In return I give the person a big smile. They smile back and although the whole interaction only took less than 30 seconds it has given me a spark, some zest, a new lease of life that helps makes the trip now worthwhile and sets me in the right frame of mind for a memorable day out.

Visits Unlimited making waves at The Deep with groundbreaking customer service training.

 

 

One common learning outcome request we have for the training we run is related to building confidence, skills and awareness in response to the diversity in UK society and in anticipation of increased numbers of international visitors – particularly greater visitor numbers from Asia that’s anticipated.

Typically poor service initiates from a lack of awareness and confidence rather than an employee deliberately being unjust or discriminatory. When we approach diversity from a disability perspective we often find out that most delegates attending have got some connection with disability, whether it is someone they know well, a family member, or an elderly relative with a condition such as Dimentia. A basis for understanding culture and diversity is to reflect on personal experiences.

When we talk of ‘communication confidence’ we understand that non verbal communication is critical to visitors with impairments. So questioning technique is important but so too, tone of voice and body language awareness.

Importance of Body Language

“Since we have the ‘loud’ spoken word, do we need anything else?

It’s very easy to underestimate the importance and influence of body language, yet studies show that only 7% of our communication is verbal which makes a staggering 93% of our communication non-verbal.

We are programmed to respond to and believe in the non-verbal message far more than the verbal and this is hard wired into us through evolution, therefore getting our ‘non-verbal talk’ right is essential for us whether personal, social or professional.

Knowing this, we can clearly see just how vital it is to be aware of the signals that we give out and how easy it can be, to misinterpret or be misinterpreted ourselves.

Learning the non-verbal language will maximize communication and positive influence in all areas of our lives, it is the language that we first learnt, it is the language that crosses over barriers and cultures. The non-verbal language is the most powerful and the most connecting way that we can continually improve the quality of all our relationships.”

Karen Hickton.

Our expert associate Karen Hickton has designed a session specifically addressing this critical knowledge slotted into our ‘Customer Service For All’ course session. Karen’s training received a huge ‘thumbs up’ during our training session to employees of The Deep. Karen’s new module on body language and communication skills got participants thinking hard about themselves and how they come across to both disabled and non-disabled customers from the UK and abroad.

For more information on our ‘customer service for all’ course refer to our face to face training sessions on our site and then get in touch.

The Deep personnel hard at work.

Brighton Centre – Winning performances on and off stage!

Great to hear of this work and happy to share this article from Suzanne Mantell, Visitor Services Manager at the Brighton Centre.

Set in the historic and vibrant city of Brighton & Hove, The Brighton Centre is one of the largest conference & entertainment centres in the South East of England, with a capacity of up to 5,500. The venue has recently been awarded ‘gold status’ for its commitment to Deaf and disabled music fans, following recognition by Attitude is Everything – the charity that campaigns on behalf of disabled audiences and operates a nationwide Charter of Best Practice.

To qualify for Charter status, live music venues and festivals must demonstrate exemplary access provision and an on-going commitment to improving accessibility – working with Attitude is Everything to go beyond the legal obligations set out in the Equality Act, to implement best practice, and to provide a fair and equal service to their Deaf and disabled customers.

Brighton Centre was specifically recognised by Attitude is Everything for:
• Their long term commitment to accessibility
• Innovative provision of additional viewing platform spaces
• Installation of a Changing Places toilet
• Working with local disability organisations as partners in growing access provision

The venue is particularly pleased about the addition of the Changing Places toilet, which is not just for the use of customers at the venue, but can be used by anyone who needs it when their Box Office is open (Monday to Saturday 10am-4pm).

CP2 CP1

Alongside the work with Attitude is Everything, the Brighton Centre also worked with VisitEngland and took part in their recent Access for All project, whose aims were to improve accessibility for all. Accessibility training for staff was a key element of this project, a large part of which was delivered by Visits Unlimited to more than 50 businesses from seven destinations in England. Staff at the Brighton Centre very much valued the training, which was delivered in a thought provoking yet still fun way, and which encouraged the staff who attended to aim for even higher standards in their plans to improve access at the venue.

More information about accessibility in Brighton & Hove is available from http://www.visitbrighton.com/plan-your-visit/accessibility

Online training courses leave a lot to be desired.

Am I disability aware?
Last week I decided to take the plunge and sign up to an online disability awareness course. I was interested in assessing the depth of information I would be required to digest, understand how the course worked as a user and find out what I knew already. Working in the industry, having a disabled child and being teacher qualified, I hoped to do well. I was sceptical as to the benefit I’d gain from the training but thought I’d give it a go.

Boring Lessons!
What about learning experience? Surely online training is the most convenient means of skilling up? Well I felt pretty flat as I plodded through the short modules. I might be a teacher but it doesn’t take one to understand an uninspiring learning experience. A radio button multi-choice tick box approach is just about the worst pedagogy approach I can think of. As a friend of mine once stated “At work we do these online knowledge tests. We just guess our way through asap and go back to correct our answers and shut the damn thing off! but it keeps our manager happy.”

Was is useful?
Visits unlimited online training

Surely the course helped me feel confident in meeting the needs of disabled visitors at the front desk? challenge discrimination and understand my rights? advise others on best practice in accessibility? No it didn’t.
It did provide the opportunity to review a few national statistics relating to how many wheelchair users there are in the UK, how many have arthritis and about a dozen other statistics. I’m not sure if the data was accurate though as there wasn’t a date of publication on the website or any reference to the sources used to gather the data.

Did I pass?
How did I get on? Well I was all done and dusted in twenty five minutes! Level 1 Disability Awareness certified! Time included printing my nice certificate off.

So how should online training be?
I heard about e-portfolio online training. This required the use of a qualified assessor to set work. This means work has to be completed by the learner!…and it means there’ll be feedback too. Wow. A learning experience similar to what I’d expect.

Then I thought about course content. Surely there’s loads to learn about disability in terms of really understanding the wishes of disabled people and particularly their aspirations for leisure experiences? There is! I’d want to know more then…and perhaps gain a recognised qualification too to spur me on.

So where can I find a course like this?

I struggled to locate one so I decided to have Visits Unlimited develop it. It’s arriving in late March. Take a peek at our accreditation and courses now and let me know if it’s your cup of tea.

Matt Riley
Director, VisitsUnlimited.

‘Customer Service For All’ – Visits Unlimited training offer.

This time of year is pretty hectic for management teams and training co-ordinators at heritage sites and attractions as new starters in customer facing roles commence induction and settle in.

Visits Unlimited are keen to support your volunteers and visitor experience managers in delivering outstanding customer service to all visitors at your attraction including those with specific needs.

Check out our accredited and assessment ready training workshops for an inspiring face-to-face training experience at your venue with our passionate, qualified and experienced trainers.

Get in touch by email or our contact form in February and book us now for preferential rates and payment terms.

A warm welcome:  Annie Riley at The Deep, Hull.

 

Visits Unlimited January Training Offer!

Now is the critical time for organisations in the UK tourism industry to plan their employee training schedule for 2016.  If planning your training calendar now you may be considering questions like:

1)  We need to consider all customers including those with specific needs,

2)  We must ensure all our personnel meet  legislative duty within the Equality Act 2010,

3)  Will our volunteers be confident in communicating with difficult clients and managing difficult service scenarios and the range of service expectations our organisation demands?

4)  Our training budget must be allocated to high quality, measurable training that has long term value.

January Offer

Visits Unlimited are delighted to be able to offer a bespoke range of Customer Service courses for management, staff and volunteers within a compelling January offer.

All courses and workshop sessions map to the nationally recognised Level 2 Extended Award in the Principles of Customer Service in Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism.  Your staff can progress to formal qualification through our training – genuine CPD value.

  • All courses booked in January will receive a 40% discount on our standard rates.  That equates to £35.00 per delegate typically.
  • Our discounted January rate is £600 plus travel for the day (9.30am to 4.30pm) for up to 20 people.
  • Book us for a training course now and you can pay for it in April.

We are happy to train staff from multiple sites to share costs – upto 35 people for £1000 including travel expenses for a full day’s training session at a location of your choosing.

Added value!

We provide all learning resources within the fee.

Delegates booking in January will receive complimentary subscription to our forum and resource portal from April 2016 to April  2o17!  You can utilise our latest resources all year round.

Free promotion!  We’ll share your training achievements across our extensive partnership network within the industry and the public.

 

 

Huge thanks to all our supporters in 2015!

It has been a great 2015 – a huge thank you to all those that have supported us this year. We wish you a very merry Xmas and hoping for lots of wonderful and memorable days out in 2016.

Some of our successes include:

Continued to use our income to purchase and supply  max cards to our families whom may otherwise not benefit from a family days out.

Supported campaigns to improve equality in society.

Our operational progress has included:

  • Assisting and taking a place on the England Inclusive Action Steering Group,
  • Led and delivered training with our colleagues from Accessible Derbyshire and Access Solutions for Visit England to over 50 businesses across England,
  • Delivered training across England to National Trust and English Heritage properties,
  • Worked with organisations on their access statements to improve information,
  • Developed a range of training packages,
  • Updated our website,
  • Increased our reach on social media,
  • Recruited a team of associates and a fabulous finance officer,
  • Worked alongside colleagues in the field of accessible tourism,
  • Spoken at conferences and written articles for magazines,
  • Had successful grants awards.

…….and more plans for 2016.

Access Survey findings: Euans Guide.

We at Visits Unlimited are passionate about the experience visitors with specific needs receive at venues. It’s vital staff are trained in access awareness as part of the access strategy your business should have developed.

EuansGuide has published a survey with the findings highlighting the priorities for visitors with access requirements.

Again service is a key factor in the decision to visit a venue a second time.  But great service requires specialist training for this loyal audience.

Annie loves the access facilities and service at The Deep.

 

 

 

Expert Chris joins team Visits Unlimited

We are delighted to welcome Chris to the team.

Chris Cammiss B SC (Hons) Physics. PGCE: Access Auditor/Associate Consultant Trainer


I’m a full-time wheelchair user, having contracted polio as a child. I have lived the disabled life since the age of seven, worked all my life, been married and brought up my children. My work is viewed from the perspective of a wheelchair user.

After graduating from Manchester University and following the hippy trail across America for a year, I decided to train as a secondary school teacher. There followed a long, rewarding career as a Maths and Sciences teacher, Head of Department, in a range of inner-city state comprehensives. I had to take early retirement following an operation to reconstruct my right shoulder and subsequent rehabilitation, all caused by too many years of physical abuse playing wheelchair basketball (aggressively) and running the occasional marathon. I then worked as a long-term volunteer at the Manchester Commonwealth Games 2002 where I found a niche advising on disabled access at the venues and on general language/behaviour around disabled athletes and visitors.

For the last few years I have worked for Disabled Living, a long-established Manchester charity. Here I deliver well-received courses in Disability Awareness/Equality which takes me all over the UK. I conduct Access Audits up to any degree of complexity (NRAC) as requested by the client. I give specialist advice on any disability related issues.

Outside work my passions are travel (USA, Europe, NZ, Cuba, Peru, Singapore HK…), live sport (rugby, football, basketball …) and live music (the louder and darker the better …). I write articles for Rough Guides and generally like to involve myself in any disabled issue of the day.

I’m delighted to work with the team at Visits Unlimited.

The Deep, Hull, UK. A truly accessible experience.

Team Annie decided to go to one of the UK’s top attraction, The Deep, a spectacular aquarium.  Annie wanted to see the penguins (so did I).  Would we experience  the hype of a totally accessible venue or would we be left floundering in the deep end!  Here’s our rating.

Dedicated access entrance.

Arrival & Parking – 5 stars

It doesn’t get any better than this.  Signposts of the main routes are super so no getting lost and flustered before we arrived.  We knew where to go as we downloaded the access guide off the website.

Met at the entrance to the carpark by a welcoming marshal who directed us to the disabled parking bays.  It’s a dedicated entrance for disabled visitors where we found level access, loads of spaces and clearly marked signage stating ‘free parking for disabled.’

Access – 5 stars

The facility is ramped throughout so Annie was independent throughout the whole experience. Particular nice touches included raised tables in the café so Annie could slot her chair in and not drop food down her front as a result of trying to reach for her meal (her tartan dress stayed crumb free).

Raised tables for Annie's chair
Raised tables for Annie’s chair

Many of the exhibits are interactive – grab, turn, twist stuff round as well at watch listen and learn experiences.

 

Toilets – 3 stars

The only area for improvement is the toilets. They are clearly signposted and placed all around the site so no chance of delays and possible accidents as a result, but they are small. The ‘crew’ team will offer assistance and there is the use of the first aid room to change Annie if I’d needed to, avoiding the humiliation of changing her on the deck!

Staff – 5 stars

Dedicated access team meet you at the entrance and take your booking – no hassles over proof or negotiations on ticketing prices. There is the offer of help throughout the experience if required and a big smile from everyone for Annie and her team. We were made to feel special throughout the whole experience. It was noticeable how many disabled visitors were there on the day and how many young couples with buggies were enjoying the day. What more could you ask for.

Great day out and going back again – and it’s free next time for repeat visits for all of us!!

Accessibility guide for hotels in Australia

We are really delighted to introduce to you Have Wheelchair Will Travel from Australia. A wonderful organisation established by a parent of a disabled child. Do check out the link to their excellent guide to booking an accessible hotel! We love it and hope you do too.
http://havewheelchairwilltravel.net/booking-an-accessible-hotel-2/
Julie explains the reasons behind setting up the website and face book pages.
“Have Wheelchair Will Travel came about after our family had a fantastic holiday to the US. I researched details to make sure the trip went smoothly and when it did I wanted to share the details to help others travelling with a family member with a disability. It seemed a waste for that information to go no further than our family. The website now combines skills I have gained in different areas of my life including as a travel consultant, mother to BJ who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair and all the therapy skills I have gained. My aim is to share any piece of information which I feel may help another person in a similar situation.”

We will be keeping up to date with the work that Have Wheelchair Will Travel is doing and we do hope that it will help lots of families all over the world plan their next holiday.
Thanks to Julie and we wish her lots of luck with her work.

The Deep making waves for all visitors.

I’ve been delighted to work with Louise Kirby, Operations and Personnel Manager and Zoe Montgomerie, Marketing Officer of The Deep in Hull.

We worked together on two aspects specifically.  Firstly to review and develop their Access Statement document and then address website usability for disabled visitors – the first ‘point of service’ for visitors on the planning cycle leading to their visit.

The Deep understand the benefits a day out makes to a family or travelling party that includes a disabled member in that travelling group.  It’s not just a moral obligation to make accessibility central to any marketing and operational strategic plan, it makes total sense to use ‘accessibility’ as a vehicle to drive forward superior customer service across the board.

So why bother putting time and effort into developing an access statement?  It’s pretty frustrating when I see access statements that don’t reflect the services offered at a venue.  Imagine a retailer having no product in the window display?  So we worked on addressing layout, content and usability with the disabled visitor in mind.

Now potential and repeat disabled visitors have not only great facilities and service provision but relevant and easy to find information when researching this terrific attraction.  As a parent carer myself, I can’t wait to visit now.  And thanks to the recent work we’ve completed it won’t feel like I’m ‘taking the plunge’ when I  visit The Deep!

The Deep is delighted to have had the chance to work with Visits Unlimited to update the access information available about our attraction, products and services. Spurred on by an excellent practical and insightful presentation by Visits Unlimited at VisitEngland’s Purple Pound conference, The Deep set out to review how its Access Statement could better serve our customers. Visits Unlimited helped to focus our vision and provided us with real feedback in a positive way; they clearly share our desire to improve accessibility within the tourism industry. They make the most of their specialist knowledge alongside appreciating the needs of the operator.
Louise Kirby, Operations & Personnel Manager, The Deep

 

Big week for Matt contributing at the School of Social Entrepreneur programme

Director Matt has been selected to join the School of Social Entrepreneur Programme after  gruelling shortlisting process including  Dragons Den style pitch in July.

Now on the programme, Matt is excited looking forward to working with other social entrepreneurs on the programme commencing tomorrow in Liverpool and over the course of the year.

https://www.the-sse.org/about-school-for-social-entrepreneurs/

Awesome Autumn Activities!

Well its official, it’s COLD, not below freezing cold but it’s pretty chilly!! Up here in the cold, wet and windy West Yorkshire it’s not exactly dream weather and the idea of going out… well it’s just not a good idea especially if you’re at home wrapped up in numerous chunky jumpers with the fire on and a cuppa, why would you bother going out?

But after spending the summer months out and about enjoying the warm weather and sunshine you’re unlikely to continue your adventures outside for a while, so what now? How can you get out of the house with the kids and still have a good time without freezing to death? Below is a list of indoor, and for the brave ones out there, outdoor activities for you and your family to enjoy in the months to come!

For the Artsy people out there here’s a great list of craft things to do with the kids!

Acorn Owls – http://bkids.typepad.com/bookhoucraftprojects/2010/11/tetx.html

Leaf Rubbing – http://mumofthreemusketeers.com/

Leaf hedgehogs – http://www.tamingtwins.com/2014/11/12/3-autumn-leaf-crafts-for-toddlers/

Leaf crowns – http://www.tamingtwins.com/

Pine Cone Frames – http://mumofthreemusketeers.com/three-things-to-do-in-autumn/

For the rough and ready people out there who enjoy the crisp autumn air and the adventures in the outdoors here’s a list of places to go!

Go on a treasure hunt – with a bit of preparation you can turn a normal walk through the wood into an exciting adventure for you and the kids!

Conkers – not only do they keep away spiders if you put them around your home but they’re a great thing to start collecting! And of course, you can play a game of conkers!

Build a stick den – to find out how to make a stick den check out this link >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFUSomJ3Zzk

Go berry picking – at this time of year the autumn bushes are groaning to be picked, and maybe even put into a pie??

Bike ride – just because it’s a bit chilly doesn’t mean you have to abandon those bikes you’ve been riding around on all summer!

For the people out there who aren’t so keen on the cold weather but still want to get out of the house here’s a list of places to go that doesn’t require you to freeze to have fun!

Central England – this link covers things to do in Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, Derbyshire, Rutland, Warwickshire, Peak District and West Midlands >>> https://www.visitengland.com/things-to-do/family#centralengland&family&attractions

East of England – this link covers things to do in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire >>> https://www.visitengland.com/things-to-do/family#eastofengland&family&attractions

North East England – this link covers things to do in Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Tyne and Wear >>> https://www.visitengland.com/things-to-do/family#northeastengland&family&attractions

North West England – this link covers things to do in Cheshire, Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria >>> https://www.visitengland.com/things-to-do/family#northwestengland&family&attractions

Northern England – https://www.visitengland.com/things-to-do/family#northernengland&family&attractions

South East England – Hampshire, London, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Kent, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, West Sussex, Isle of Wight, East Sussex and Brighton >>> https://www.visitengland.com/things-to-do/family#southeastengland&family&attractions

South East England – This link covers things to do in Devon, Dorset, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Somerset and Bristol >>> https://www.visitengland.com/things-to-do/family#southwestengland&family&attractions

 

Delicious Autumn Recipes

Autumn Tomato Chutney:

Prep: 40-50 minutes

Cook: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1kg ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 750g cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 375g light muscovado sugar
  • 250g onions, chopped
  • 250g raisins
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp salt ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 350ml cider vinegar

Method:

Put all the ingredients into a large pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Boil the mixture, uncovered, for about 45-50 mins until the fruit is tender and thickened. Cool, then transfer the mixture to a sterilised jar and seal.

Autumn vegetable soup with cheesy toast:

Prep: 10-15 minutes

Cook: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 leek, chopped quite small
  • 2 carrots, chopped quite small
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 potato, chopped quite small
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 410g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped Italian tomatoes
  • 425ml/¾ pint vegetable stock
  • 8 slices of baguette, cut on the diagonal
  • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
  • 50g edam, finely grate

Method:

  • Put the vegetables into a large saucepan with the garlic, rosemary, stock and sugar. Season well, stir, bring to a simmer and cover. Cook gently for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.
  • Preheat the grill to high. Whizz the tomatoes in a food processor or blender until smooth, then tip into the vegetables with the chickpeas and parsley. Gently heat through, stirring now and then.
  • For the toasts: rub both sides of the bread with the garlic. Grill on one side until golden, turn the bread over, cover with edam and grill until it’s bubbling. Serve at once with the piping hot soup.

Baked fruity Autumn pudding:

Prep: 20-25 minutes

Cook: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 450g mixed autumn fruit – we used ripe plums, peeled apples, pears and blackberries
  • 2 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 140g shredded suet
  • zest 1 lemon

 

Method:

  • Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Cut 2 x 5cm-wide strips of parchment and lay them up the sides of a 1.2-litre pudding basin, making a cross on the bottom of the dish. Make sure there is some overhang to help you release the pudding when cooked. Grease again. Lay a square of foil and equal-size square of greased parchment on top of each other, folding a pleat down the middle.
  • To make the filling, chop plums, apples and pears into 1cm cubes and place in a bowl with the blackberries. Add butter, broken into bits, 125g of sugar and cinnamon. Stir and put to the side.
  • Sift flour into mixing bowl. Mix in suet, remaining sugar and zest. Add a few drops of water, working it through with a cutlery knife, then keep adding water until you have soft dough. Using your hand, bring the dough together into a smooth ball. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Tear the dough into ¾ and ¼ parts. Roll the larger portion into a rough circle, approx 20cm. Drop into the basin and press up the sides until you have a slight overhang. Tip the filling into the pastry case. Roll out the remaining ¼ to make a lid, then press the pastry edges together to firmly seal. Tuck the protruding flaps of parchment down onto pastry.
  • Put foil/parchment on top (foil side up), pressing and squeezing the foil round the edges to make a fitted lid. Tie string securely around the lid, making a handle with extra doubled-up string. Put in a deep roasting tin, then pour boiling water to 1-2cm below foil line. Cook for 2 hrs, topping up water level if it gets too low. Unwrap, release edges using parchment tabs and invert onto a plate.

 

All these recipes were taken from the bbc, to see more great recipes follow this link >> http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/12844/baked-fruity-autumn-pudding

I hope you enjoy these Autumn activities and escape the world of cold and boredom this year! Can’t wait to hear what you think!! Next up.. CHRISTMAS!!!

Disability awareness training & its value

When it comes to customer care, the value is in the care.

Tourist attractions are in abundance making it a very competitive area of the market.  Many attributes make an attraction / venue stand out above the rest but one is the quality of the experience. This however is a huge field to cover so let’s stick with our area of interest – disability awareness training.

There are some venues which provide an off the shelf customer service training for their staff. There are others who go much deeper and wider because they know what this will do for their business outcomes.

There is still a huge hole in accessibility and equality training. We know because we are a team who either have a disability we live with ourselves, or we have children and family members who experience some form of disability. We know the areas that are lacking because we see it first hand.

The value of disability awareness training

Why is there a need for specific disability awareness training?  After all, surely great customer service training should meet the needs of all customers, irrespective of their needs?   We don’t agree.

Katie Clarke of Visits Unlimited states that venues that offer great customer service for disabled visitors ensures great customer service for everyone.   It makes sense as a provision to meet additional needs of your customers suggests higher level of customer service expertise. It shows keener attention to processes and provision of services and overall finer attention to detail. These are aspects that naturally assume a higher level of personal approach and attention, hallmarks of great service.

So we think disability awareness training takes customer service to a higher level and empowers personnel with greater confidence and understanding to meet the needs of clients they serve.

Click on the link for the opinion of business leaders on this subject with Katie making her case.

 

 

 

Labelling Disability. Are we out of touch?

What worked then doesn’t always keep working in the now

Labelling disability is difficult are of terminology.  I have met people who live with a disability who refuse to class themselves as disabled.  I have also met people who don’t mind the term disabled and some who consider themselves differently abled not disabled.

The question also pops up; do we even need to have labels? Whether we agree with them or not, we live in a culture where labels are tagged on to everything. It can be argued that in some cases it works in someones favour such as accessing support. It can be argued that labels allow others to understand us and our needs quicker.  It can be argued that they leave us open to prejudism and make us feel / be vulnerable. They can make us feel separate and different – not part of the ‘norm’.  Labels though are a part of our society, they assist our understanding of something, someone or a particular situation. In most cases labels are necessary and show no signs of dissolving.

Back to the main question of labelling disability?

Is it time to find a new term for people who live with a disability? Does ‘disabled’ really describe accurately a person who currently comes under such a category? Redefining a more correct and modern term, respectful and dignified of those who would be classified by it, well i’m glad that isn’t my job. There will be no 100% acceptance whatever the outcome but there’s also something individual about that. I personally live with partial deafness but do not consider myself disabled as I have managed it in a way that it affects my life on such a small scale.  I am interested personally on where this question will lead us but for now, here’s a great article written by Rebecca Atkinson. Rebecca refers to language used in disability both past and present.

I think many would agree with her summary but finding an alternative appropriate and more positive term than ‘disabled’ is a pretty tricky task!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-34385738

Please do give us your thoughts and opinions, we would also ask that we each respect each others.

 

More people making a difference, that’s what we like to see!!

So nice to see more people are trying to make a difference for disabled people like United Discriminates..

“UNITED DISCRIMINATES was formed in October 2014 after the Manchester United Disabled Liaison Officer, and MUDSA (Manchester United Disabled Supporters Association) Secretary told me that i should take my Family to “Rochdale Stockport Or Oldham” because they were not able to seat a family together if a member of the family had a wheelchair.

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Since then, we have worked tirelessly to highlight the many discriminatory policy’s in place at Manchester United.  And requested that the club develop a range of facilities for people with all manner of disabilities and or needs.

We have Campaigned for a many things including accessible seats, access to season tickets for disabled fans, Family Accessible Seating, and the End of the MUDSA yellow card scheme, which banned disabled fans if they fail to attend a match.

We are pleased to Confirm that the Campaign has started to make an effect and we are now in Regular Contact with Senior Management at the club, who are it seems making efforts to put things right.

So far we have seen the Club

  • Introduce Accessible Friend and Family Seating
    The club have adapted 4 Existing Wheel Chair bays and Added a Row of Seats directly behind, which means that a small group or a family can now sit together at Old Trafford
  • End of Red and Yellow Card Scheme
    The Club have also confirmed this scheme has been scrapped.
  • Raise awareness of Issues Disabled User Have
    The club are currently conducting a review of facilities, policies and procedures with respect to supporters who may have a disability, with the objective of making significant improvements over the coming seasons.
    You can be part of this by clicking the link.

Manchester United state that there “facilities are considered to be amongst the best facilities currently offered to disabled supporters at any stadium anywhere in the world”.  United Discriminate want that statement to be true.


The campaign is starting to make real strides, and it seems that Manchester United are starting to listen and change the way in which they act.  The United Discriminate Campaign will continue to support Disabled Fans, both home and away, and raise the issues and concerns fans have.

Our aim is simple.  We want Manchester United’s Facilities to be as they say, “The Best In the World”.  That means not just achieving the Guidelines in the Accessible Stadia Guide, but over achieving them.  Which means we still will be pushing for.

  • More Disabled Seating
  • A fair and transparent Ballot Ticket Process for All Disabled Fans
  • The availability of Purchasing Season Tickets as a Disabled Fan
  • Greater Access to Other Parts of the Stadium, Not just the Ability Suite
  • Changing Places Toilet Facilities
  • A more Proactive way of dealing with Issues
  • Disabled Facilities, Seating and Facilities included in all Future Expansions plans”