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).


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

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.
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.

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 –

Leaf Rubbing –

Leaf hedgehogs –

Leaf crowns –

Pine Cone Frames –

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 >>

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 >>>

East of England – this link covers things to do in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire >>>

North East England – this link covers things to do in Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Tyne and Wear >>>

North West England – this link covers things to do in Cheshire, Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cumbria >>>

Northern England –

South East England – Hampshire, London, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Kent, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, West Sussex, Isle of Wight, East Sussex and Brighton >>>

South East England – This link covers things to do in Devon, Dorset, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Somerset and Bristol >>>


Delicious Autumn Recipes

Autumn Tomato Chutney:

Prep: 40-50 minutes

Cook: 50 minutes


  • 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


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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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



  • 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 >>

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!

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.


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”

Premier League clubs onside in tackling access at grounds.

It’s great news that the Premier League had accessibility on the agenda at their shareholders meeting last week and good news that media is spreading the message for access to be improved at Premier League grounds.


Visits Unlimited is passionate about delivering quality training to staff and stewards at sports grounds. Through our networks we have heard countless stories of poor experiences of disabled people and their families whilst watching matches. We know the difference that good quality customer service training makes to confidence building and disability etiquette.  Stadia managers and Safety Officers also appreciate the knowledge gained from such training.

Totally motivated!


“Through working in partnership with Visits Unlimited the Safety Stewards at the Shay Stadium have recently received excellent training on how to improve spectator experience on match days. The training sessions focused on the positive adjustments we can make to a spectator’s visit which promote an enjoyable experience and leave a lasting impression.”  Mike Murray, Sport and Active Leisure Manager.


Shay Stadium Safety Officers on top of their game.


So, we are delighted to see that “ Disability access was discussed at the Premier League shareholders meeting last week with several new proposals agreed.”

The new report – completed jointly by the Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Culture, Media and Sport – recommends:

  • Planning attendance: Clubs should provide attendance for all groups of disabled people. They should provide information such as stadium distance from local parking and gradient of pavements.
  • Buying a ticket: Clubs should allow disabled spectators to buy tickets online. They should provide wheelchair seating that allows disabled spectators to sit with family and friends.
  • Travelling to and from the venue: Clubs should provide up to date transport information.
  • Overall experience: Match day and club stewards should be given disability awareness training, while abusive behaviour towards disabled spectators should not be tolerated.
  • Aids and adaptations: Clubs should increase the number of wheelchair user places for stadiums with more than 10,000 seats.”

We know too that CAFÉ (Centre for Access to Football in Europe) have worked closely with UEFA for a number of years and produced this excellent report that talks about the importance of training for staff and stewards.


Rainham Hall prepared for all visitors.

A super day with all the team at Rainham Hall keen on learning to meet the needs of disabled visitors at their property.

With the recent facilities completed and staff trained in giving and exceptional standard of service to all visitors, it’s exciting times for the team.


Thinking caps on!

Bolton Castle planning customer service for all.

It’s 10.30 on a misty Thursday morning, after the horrors of the Satnav taking Matt and I through a field full of sheep.. we finally arrive at the beautiful Bolton Castle in North Leyburn, North Yorkshire. The beautiful fields of green surrounding the picture perfect castle and its ground made the traumatic trip of getting there totally worth it.

As we enter the castle itself the feeling is unreal, hardly any of the castle has been modified with the luxuries of a five star hotel and it actually feels like being there back in the day! With its candle lit walls of stone and tapestries and the slightly uneven staircase leading up to the main area, you practically feel like the Baron of Bolton himself!

After we got ourselves together we made our way to the gift shop where we were greeted by a lovely young lady called Katie, the exact person we came here to see, she offered us a drink and a slice a cake (which Matt was delighted about) and then we made our way to the office to begin.

First, Katie took me and Matt on a tour of the castle and showed us all the facilities, telling us a bit about the castle being built and what happened there and finally taking us up the spiral staircases to the roof to look at the beautiful countryside. After that we made our way back to the office where we were introduced to Tom the owner, we settled down and began the consultancy. We took a look at their access statement and discussed what needed to be improved, for example, making it easier to find the specific bit of information you are looking for rather than trawling through the whole thing. We then started a Marketing Accessibility Action Plan to write down everything that needed to be done and which things needed to be made a priority, for example, making changes to access statement in time for holiday seasons. We discussed budget, catering facilities, accessibility around the site, their website content etc. Our work came up with solutions that Katie could apply to complications that may arise with customers, ways to improve online and offline marketing, improvements to be made to their site and best use of the resources they already have.

We know that good customer service is all about the three pillars, information, good customer service and facilities which is why we think it’s great that they have designed an app on android. The app is a virtual tour of the castle with information about each area and the people who lived there. It is for visitors who are unable to access the castle due to mobility limitations. The app was great at illustrating how the castle would have appeared in it’s medieval heyday.

We discussed what could happen if a school trip was to come to the castle for a tour and one of the children had a disability and what the best way was to assist that child to make them feel as comfortable as possible.

By the end of the day we had designed a strategy to be put into place over the next 12 months.

Mystery Visit – Cragside, Morpeth.

Matt paid a visit to Cragside, home of Lord Armstrong.  Victorian inventor, industrialist and landscape genius, Law educated William Armstrong developed hydroelectric power and utilised Joseph Swan’s invention  – the incandescent light bulb, to establish Cragside as the first home to use electric lighting.

Here are Matt’s comments on accessibility on the estate.

Parking and Transport

Disabled parking bays in the main car park are on a rising bend in a woodland setting.  The floor covering is bark and gravel.  If visiting the house I would recommend parking up outside the cafe or property itself and disembarking there.  There are several parking areas for disabled visitors so I didn’t see the provision for parking elsewhere on the site.


There is ‘disabled’ toilet (prefer to use the word accessible) in the visitor centre area but it isn’t a Changing Places facility with provision for changing an adult with complex needs or learning difficulties.  Information on the website doesn’t specify the equipment in the toilet sadly.  Visitors therefore need to ring up and check if provision will be adequate for their needs.

Access facilities

I was delighted to see a wheelchair user in the house on the upper floors.  Checking with reception I was informed there is a Victorian lift in the house and wheelchairs that can be hired at time of booking.

The home’s appeal is the abundance of original furnishings.  Armstrong would recognise his home as it is today.  There are stairs up to the gallery but the lift enables access around most of the house and corridors and entry into the rooms are no barrier for wheelchairs.

A flagship National Trust property for the North East – Cragside’s wonderful woodland paths are well signed posted with distance and advice on the terrain.  A disabled person with mobility issues would be aware of the challenges in getting around areas of the site.










The front desk staff were fabulous – cheery, knowledgable of the site and activities going on that day and supportive of us in making our visit enjoyable.  Reception staff operate a ticketing service for our belongings to be stored as we went round the house – really useful for those disabled visitors needing to bring the kitchen sink!  Volunteers in most rooms knew their stuff and provided an educational experience second to none.  The service matched the surroundings – immaculate.  Serving staff in the cafe knew all food ingredients used including gluten free produce.  The menu didn’t symbolise allergy advice however.


Parking in disabled bays was tricky but there is space to drop off on level ground.  There is a shuttle bus to transport around the site but steps into the bus.  The cafe was attended by well informed caterers who knew their stuff in allergy.  Very friendly too and the produce was beautifully prepared.  Service from all staff was consistently high across all areas of the site.  Finally, facilities included a lift and bookable wheelchairs.

Matt will discuss the areas for development in the access offer directly with Cragside in the near future.

Beautiful formal gardens