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” ( www.changing-places.org ) . 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 (www.aveso.co.uk ) 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:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28804914


Feedback from Kenwood House Training Delegates

Kenwood House staff feedback and have their say…

We get lots of great feedback from our clients and venues across the country.  Here is a wonderful example of a training session we did with an English Heritage attraction, Kenwood House.

“very useful to discuss difficult scenarios”

“knowing how to approach disabled people and the importance of the first contact”

“Personal description of the visitor journey for families with disabled children was incredibly eye-opening – if it could be bottled and sent to all organisations the access would be so much improved”

“I am going to think about access champions at each venues to advocate for families with disabled children”

“wonderful, thank you”

“Hearing from experienced families with disabled children was most interesting. And the practical discussions”

“Fantastic, REAL experiences, knowledgeable and active trainers, well engaged in the heritage community and local community groups”

“this training gave me awareness of disability and culture and the impact of families”

“I now am now more confident and certain how to make people with disabilities welcome and for me to be as helpful as possible”

“I honestly think this training was fantastic”

“I found this training very useful and engaging. It made me understand how families with disabled children live their every day lives”

Thank you for this feedback and we look forward to rolling out our training to more venues keen to improve their accessibility offer.  




Kenwood House Training Success

Kenwood House and another successful training event

Kenwood House training day, what can we say? It was brilliant.

We received a positive and warm welcome with staff eager to learn how to make adaptions, feel more confident when working alongside colleagues and visitors who are disabled.

Kenwood House

Kenwood House in Hampstead, London is part of the English Heritage and is a property first built in the 17th century. If you haven’t been before and enjoy stunning gardens with beautiful trails, architecture and art work as well as some scrumptious food then this definitely needs to be on your list of places to go and visit.

Following our training

The team feel confident and empowered in providing outstanding service when engaging with disabled visitors to their property. We worked as team to generate and deliver usable ideas and recommendations during the training day that will attract more disabled visitors to Kenwood House.

kenwood house training
Katie’s working lunch!


Katie and Matt in front of the estate.

Visits Unlimited working with Euan’s Guide.

Visits Unlimited and the award winning Euan’s Guide

Visits Unlimited are delighted to be working collaboratively with the award winning Euan’s Guide.

Who and What is Euan’s Guide?

Put simply, Euan’s Guide is an easy to navigate website where you can leave or read disabled access reviews.  The website aims to ‘remove the fear of the unknown.’

As diligent as we are with planning our family days out to ensure as many bases are covered, there can be so much that websites don’t tell us. The bits that we really need to know such as steps, disabled toilets, dining places and other areas that may create obstacles. This guide is well known, well used website where we can share our experiences, top tips and the bits that websites don’t tell us.  Euan’s guide achieves what it sets out to, it helps remove the uncertainty therefore the fear of the unknown.

I personally have used Euan’s guide and found it invaluable and not just at home in pre planning mode, we were out and about on the go, an opportunity came up to visit an attraction and I figured i’d have a quick look on the guide and it was green light for us. An awesome day out was had and I felt it was a valuable resource for me to use at that time so it’s a definite recommendation from.

If you like the idea why not help out?

The community spirit is positive and valuable but requires our input as parents, loved ones, family, friends and carers to put our experiences on there. You can also help out by spreading the word so that more and more people sign up and share.

Why not check it out and have a browse or use it now for those autumn trips:

Euan’s Guide link

Families demand more website information.

A recent survey of Yorkshire attractions carried out by Visits Unlimited in March 2014 concluded that disabled access information on many tourist attraction websites is inadequate in making a confident choice to visit, citing lack of photos, appropriate information and poor formatting.

Kyle Norman, Business Support Co-ordinator, York Cluster National Trust Properties concurred with this view.

We hope many attractions consider the information they provide pre-visit to really help families dare to take the step out and have a great day.

Matt Riley, Director.

804332_10200726963922662_1144894892_n 2