Visits Unlimited Joined Up Thinking.



Visits Unlimited were delighted to meet with Access Champ’s Arnold Ferrell this week.  Sharing ideas and knowledge is the key to progress.

The accessible tourism market is growing and changing at great pace. It’s essential to work collaboratively with partners to create the most robust business model and offer great services that will stand the test of change and meet the needs of the customers we serve.


Visits Unlimited Joined Up Thinking.

We believe there is a need for a collaborative approach in tackling access issues. We are keen to support and work with industry experts in the field to move the access agenda forward. There is much work to be done. Great to speak and connect with Martin at IDACs.

Amazing Shay Stadium Stewards committed to accessibility.

In the most treacherous of wintery conditions, a snow blizzard in full swing, Katie and I arrived at the Shay Stadium, Halifax at 8.30am Saturday last, in readiness to deliver our Short Course in Disability Awareness to Shay Stadium Stewards.

With the likelihood of the match being postponed we didn’t expect many of the thirty to attend. We were wrong! Nearly all stewards turned up on foot – braving the elements and yet arriving in time for a prompt 9am start.

And what a great morning we had with them. We try to make our sessions fun and interactive whilst addressing some pretty serious and emotive topics including challenging prejudice and stereotypical attitudes, how to offer outstanding customer service, understanding and meeting the needs of disabled visitors and complying and benefiting from the protection stated within the Equality Act 2010.

Our quiz was rowdy like Monday night at your local, our discussions livelier than Question Time on the television. Yet at times the atmosphere could be cut with a knife, you could hear a pin drop, as Katie read parent’s poems and statements about the Visiter Journey and the life of a carer. It was so powerful.

Visits Unlimited are so proud of the delegates in their determination to put into practice what they learnt and really hope to support them in making The Shay Stadium a truly accessible venue for every visitor and sports fan.  All we need now is the fans to enjoy the experience down The Shay.





Changing Places and Official Sponsor Aveso arrange Premier Campaigner Day at prestigious Proact Stadium

Changing Places


Following on from another highly successful year for Changing Places, there is now over 700 Changing Places registered in the UK which include major Airports, Premiership Football Clubs, Supermarkets and Hospitals as well as a range of Changing Places successes overseas in the USA and Australia.

Changing Places are an essential facility for users with profound and multiple learning difficulties and their carers where a standard accessible toilet does not provide the correct equipment required by the user. A Changing Places toilet (if compliant with BS8300:2009) is fitted with a Hoist, Changing Bench, Peninsular Toilet, Grab Rails and a Wash Basin as well as enough space for turning and carers. Changing Places make a substantial difference to thousands of people’s lives each day by offering the correct facilities for changing and toileting to enable more people the opportunity to plan days out and use a safe and reliable facility.

The very first Changing Places Conference will take place on February 21st 2015 at 10am at Chesterfield FC’s Proact Stadium. The Event will be an informative and collaborative day which will include interactive workshops, awards and a number of experienced and respected guest speakers including Accessible Derbyshire, The Joshua Wilson Brain Tumour Charity and Visits Unlimited and many more! Changing Places and Aveso welcome campaigners existing, new or future to join the event to find ideas, support and information on how the Changing Places Campaign can and will continue to grow and how everyone can get involved to achieve this. After all, Changing Places would be nowhere without the hard work and support of the campaigners and experienced families.

Rossanna Trudgian, from Mencap, and Co-chair of the Changing Places consortium commented; “Since the campaign launched, we have seen hundreds of Changing Places toilets installed across the UK, including at key transport hubs like Heathrow airport and Kings Cross station, stadiums like Wembley and the Emirates, as well as hospitals, concert arenas and city centres. The availability of Changing Places also helped make the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games the most accessible games to date! So much of this success is because of Changing Places campaigners like those attending on February 21st. Champions of our cause. The Changing Places Conference is about honouring and celebrating everything they do to help spread awareness and recognition of the true value of and need for Changing Places toilets.

However, whilst progress has been made, more are needed if we are to meet the demand for Changing Places toilets and to see them in all public areas so that nobody every has to be changed on a toilet floor. We hope that the Changing Places Conference marks the first of many events like this so that we can continue to spread the word about Changing Places far and wide.”

The Changing Places Conference is taking place in partnership with the official sponsor Aveso who provide technical advice and equipment for Changing Places. The Proact Stadium, which is the chosen venue for The Changing Places Conference 2015 is fully accessible and has a full Changing Places fitted by Aveso.

As experts in the patient transfer and care industry, OpeMed and Astor Bannerman form the joint venture; Aveso as the official sponsor and manufacturer of The Changing Places Campaign. Please click on the links above for more information on Changing Places equipment including Ceiling Hoists, Changing Tables and Washbasins.

How to Attend: Registration for the event is completed online and must be received by Wednesday 18th February for entrance to the conference. For full details of Changing Places and the Changing Places Conference taking place on February 21st at Chesterfield FC’s The Proact Stadium (The Hub) please contact 01242 822979 or via twitter on @CP_Consortium @AvesoCP @OpeMed @AstorBannerman #CPConf2015.

You can book online at whoozin?

Are UK sporting venues doing enough for disabled sports fans?

The government is calling on disabled sports fans to share their experiences of viewing live sport at stadiums and sports grounds across Britain.

The government is calling on disabled sports fans to share their experiences of viewing live sport at stadiums and sports grounds across Britain, in what it hopes will be the largest ever survey of its kind.

Ministers are hoping thousands of Britain’s 12 million disabled people will give their views on everything from wheelchair access and disabled parking to accessible toilets, hearing loops and treatment by other supporters at live sporting fixtures. Organisers want to hear from fans of all sports – and in particular rugby, cricket, football, hockey, basketball, cycling and motor-racing.

Earlier this year the government called on Britain’s football leagues to take urgent action to redress some of the “woeful” lack of appropriate support and space for disabled spectators, reminding them of their legal obligations to provide adequate room and adjustments for disabled fans.

Research showed nearly half of Premier League football clubs don’t offer even half the wheelchair space they should for disabled people.

Mark Harper, Minister of State for Disabled People, said:

For too long in this country disabled sports fans have been treated like second class citizens at many sporting venues. And yet 1 in 5 of us have an impairment, and disabled people and their households have a spending power of over £200 billion.

We know the situation in football is unacceptable and it’s not only wheelchair access that falls short, but adjustments for people with all kinds of impairments. We encourage all sports fans with a disability to tell us of their experiences at sporting venues, so we can get a clear picture of whether disabled sports fans are being treated fairly.

Meanwhile, evidence from Level Playing Field has revealed that as many as half of Premier League football clubs operate season ticket policies which could be deemed as discriminatory against disabled sports fans.

Evidence has emerged of clubs operating complex pre-registration systems for disabled supporters to qualify for season tickets which are not applied to fans without disabilities. Level Playing Field have also uncovered that many clubs allocate disproportionately small numbers of season tickets to wheelchair users and exclude disabled people from using their online ticketing services.

Minister for Sport Helen Grant said:

We know that lots of clubs, like Arsenal, are making improvements but more can still be done across sport to make stadiums more accessible and the match-day experience better for disabled fans. This is what this survey is all about – giving disabled sports fans the chance to air their views so that we can help make watching live sport fantastic for them.

The Commonwealth Games this summer showed what is possible and how sport can cater brilliantly for disabled fans and I am confident that sports governing bodies will step up and deliver on this.

Joyce Cook from Level Playing Field said:

The experience of disabled sports fans varies across the country. Our research shows that many clubs are operating what seem to be discriminatory policies when it comes to season and away tickets. And if you can actually get there, the inability to sit with your own fans, poor sight lines and the lack of accessible provisions can be so bad that you would have had a better experience watching it on TV. That’s not acceptable and it’s time all clubs and venues took their legal obligations seriously – and recognised the value of the purple pound.

Click on the link below to complete the survey.




Visits Unlimited at Changing Places Conference!

Visits Unlimited are delighted and proud to be working closely with the Changing Places campaign team in 2015. We are excited to be one of the guest speakers at the first official annual Changing Places conference on the 21st February at Chesterfield Proact Stadium.

For people with a passion for the Changing Places campaign, we’d love to see you there! This is great opportunity to receive support and information, whether a family or an organisation, on matters relating to accessibility.



Disabled Access Day 2015. Visits Unlimited Photo Competition!

Great start to the 2015 planned by Visits Unlimited in collaboration with Euan’s Guide’s Disability Awareness Day 2015.

We’d love disabled people, their families, carers and friends to get out and visit somewhere new and have a great time at a place they haven’t been to before and take a photo then send it to us. The best snaps in the categories we have selected will be shortlisted by our panel of judges representing the UK Heritage Sector and esteemed artist Bryan Harford! FABULOUS PRIZES are up for grabs.

Click on the link on our Home Page News “Get Out There.”

Photot comp

Christmas Greetings!

The team at Visits Unlimited wish all our families, colleagues in the field of Accessible Tourism and organisations we have worked with in 2014, a very Merry Christmas and New Year.

Here’s to an Accessible 2015!!

Santa list - amend 1 (reduced for web)

Aveso works with Expert Training Team

We are delighted to be linking up with Aveso and Changing Places in offering venues advice and facilities that make for a truly accessible experience for disabled visitors.  Thank you for such a great show of support Aveso. (see below)

DECEMBER 2, 2014

As the Changing Places Campaign strengthens and grows in the UK, we are developing a greater understanding of the considerations surrounding Changing Places and the venues they are situated within so that we can offer the right level of support.

One of our roles as the sponsor of Changing Places has come to focus on the relationships surrounding the campaign. We believe that in order to uphold a successful facility there needs to be an understanding from the venue of the importance of a Changing Places room, training within the staff on the facility and an encouragement of signage and promotion. In order to do this we are building relationships with Changing Places advocates and professionals who have built years of expertise in the importance of accessibility and what it means not only to the users but also the positives for a venue too.
As a team of professionals with passion and experience; not only in the commercial benefits of accessibility but also of the real life challenges disability, Visits Unlimited and Aveso have joined forces. We are working together to further enhance the power of a Changing Places by education, training and encouragement. Visits Unlimited are a community interest company with over 35 years experience of personal insight in disabled visitor experience. Katie and Matt from “VU”, work tirelessly within the tourist industry to develop the visitor journey and what it would mean for that venue to offer an adaptation or facility for disabled users. This is where Changing Places facilities play a part; within the fantastic work of Visits Unlimited fits the growing demand and necessity for a Changing Places.

We hope to develop and build our relationship with Visits Unlimited to better understand the tourism industry, provide top quality education to providers and their teams, and learn where Changing Places can really make a difference.

[Lucy and Nick from Aveso, Mike from Changing Places and Matt from Visits Unlimited]

Welcome Yorkshire members supported by Visits Unlimited

Welcome Yorkshire were delighted to have us present to their members at their Y-Business Hub annual event held at Wetherby Race Course on the 8th November.

Philippa Kelly of Welcome Yorkshire was delighted we were able to share our vision for accessible tourism and point out the huge opportunity for organisations by making their businesses inclusive for employees and their clients.

Welcome Yorkshire
Welcome Yorkshire

Top Talent Support Visits Unlimited

Visits Unlimited is proud to link up with Rachel Harrison, Soprano.  Rachel advocates our work and is excited to collaborate with us in future events we run.  Thank you Rachel!




Art with Heart Production Company pushing the Access agenda.

Sarah Evans is Creative Director of Manchester based ArtwithHeart Theatre company. Sarah advocates the need for artistic performance to be accessed by all communities.

Visits Unlimited is keen to promote their philosophy and work as many theatres and production companies need to consider accessibility at their venues and in their performances. Please click on the link and check their up and coming events and find out more….

Art with Heart.






Accessible Tourism a major contributor to UK.

Accessible Tourism

It’s a shocking statistic for some but real nonetheless; more than one in six people in England and Wales have an ‘activity limiting’ health problem or disability.

How does that affect tourism?

£3 billion is spent a year on overnight tourism trips in England each year by visitors from within the UK and also from international visitors. The bottom line for any tourist focused business is that if you focus on, creating, enhancing your accessibility could improve your business.

Accessible tourism is being seen as not just positive business sense but also for it’s core purpose – to allow for all people to enjoy, experience and contribute to these amazing places that the UK is so enriched with.

Accessible days out, experiences, travel focused areas and other related segments provide family, an individual or care services great opportunities and will be advertised on areas such as review guide; Euan’s Guide where other families will go to as a trusted source of information to spread the word.

Ultimately, it just makes great business sense. 

How can you begin to tap into creating more accessible awareness for your venue and your team?

Our training and support package on accessible tourism focuses on 4 areas:

  • We support you to assess your venue and our trained assessor will provide you with ideas on how to make reasonable adjustments that can provide a huge difference to your visitors. Making changes to areas such as your facilities, building and information points will support many of your visitors.
  • Our access auditor can help you complete the new Visit England Accessibility Guide to get the most of out of your marketing information and to show that you welcome all customers.
  • We provide onsite training for management an the team focusing training on Customer service.
  • Our training looks at ensuring your staff are disability aware and the confidence to deliver an excellent service.
  • We also provide specialist communication training which is included within our package and delivered by our specialist in non verbal communication.
  • We can help you cater for visitors with accessibility requirements, a market worth £12 billion (GPTS 2015).

Accessible tourism is worth your investment

Visit England have published latest research highlighting the impact disabled visitors and those with impairments contribute to the UK tourist economy.  Click on the link for the data.


About Changing Places: Disabled toilets that really are accessible.

Visits Unlimited support the work of Changing Places.  We know that our families with disabled children rated lack of personal care facilities at venues in the top three of issues prohibiting them visiting an attraction.  We also know that venues that invest in a Changing Places toilet reap the rewards in higher visitor numbers.

Mike at Changing Places provided this statement.

“Many vulnerable people in society, including people with disabilities, do not have the opportunities that most of us take for granted. I work in the campaigns and policy team at national learning disability charity “Royal Mencap Society” on a project called “Changing Places” ( ) . Changing Places are toilet facilities that have a bench and hoist for anyone who need extra assistance with their personal care. Without these facilities many people would not be able to access their local communities, shopping centres, music venues etc. Without these facilities, families have to change the person they care for on a cramped and dirty toilet floor. The alternative is to limit outings to a few short hours – or to not go out at all.

We now have over 650 registered Changing Places toilet across the UK and we are now working with our campaign sponsors Aveso ( ) to look further afield. This year we have registered Changing Places with our sponsors at Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion Football clubs alongside many other public places.  My colleague Leroy Binns opened the Arsenal Changing Places with Alex Brooker from Channel Four’s “The last Leg”.”




Accessibility – Strategic planning is vital.

Visits Unlimited February 2014 survey of Yorkshire attractions highlighted the key issues for venues in becoming accessible to disabled visitors.  Major challenges included:

1)  No evidence of planning strategically for accessibility – budget planning, training, targeted marketing.

2)  Little or no training completed by staff at attractions surveyed.

3)  Staff expressed interest in training to improve the service they offered to disabled guests.

We understand that accessibility at venues must start with management buy-in.  Emma Manners, Learning Officer at Fountains Abbey states,

We recognise that all our Project planning needs to include disability access and awareness.  Management training will be crucial in rolling out a programme of change.  From event planning to playground development, signage and pre-information, disability access and awareness needs to become a part of all our projects to transform equality and the visitor experience for the long term.”

BBC coverage and recent report from Vitalise  highlight some of the key challenges faced by  disabled visitors.


Staff desire training but planning and budgets are major hurdles.

In February Visits Unlimited commissioned a survey of fifty popular Yorkshire tourist attractions.  We asked them for their opinion on their understanding of the term accessible, the current provision they offered for disabled visitors and finally the challenges they faced in becoming fully accessible for disabled children.  The results were quite an eye-opener.

See the survey presentation findings by clicking on the link.

VU Yorkshire Attractions Accessibility Survey

Analysing the responses it is clear many attractions focus their attention purely on physical barriers yet the results of family surveys we have conducted stated the priority for families was in fact improvements in visitor information, service provided in the visitor welcome and management at the attraction.  These priorities came ahead of physical access issues.

Isn’t it about time you considered some affordable quick wins in making your attraction more accessible for disabled visitors?  The benefits outweigh the costs.


Disabled facilities at UK tourism venues ‘must improve’

At last mainstream news coverage of the issue of UK tourist venues not providing adequate access for disabled visitors.

Visits Unlimited have found increasing demand for our short course face-to-face disability awareness training, key for attractions in providing improved service for disabled visitors whilst gaining a competitive advantage and increased visitor numbers.

Is your venue one of the 13% of venues making inroads into the accessible tourism market valued at £11bn?  If not, but you wish to, contact us.

Full news story: