Creating an accessible destination.
When you have a beautiful and sensory rich town like Hebden Bridge we want people to come and experience it. We know that when people enjoy it they then share it. It isn’t easy for everyone and Visits Unlimited have been invited to support the local community and business to make Hebden Bridge a more accessible destination. We want to make Hebden Bridge an even greater experience for everyone because we know Hebden Bridge cares.
Improving accessibility improves the economy.
Saturday 3rd September was the launch of our new project #AccessibleHebden at the Hebden Bridge Town Hall. We are truly delighted to be working in close partnership with the ‘Hebden Bridge Partnership’ and Calderdale Community Foundation. We will be working together over the next 6 months to help make Hebden Bridge an attraction for everyone to enjoy.
As a national Community Interest Company we have delivered both disability awareness and customer service training across the country for a number of years to many small businesses, venues, attractions, museums and heritage sites within the tourism sector.
We know that supporting a venue to become accessible to a wide range of impairments is much more than doorways and ramps. It is about a positive can-do attitude; finding solutions to participation and inclusion; and imbedding a warm welcome approach throughout the organisation, its staff and volunteers.
What are the benefits of becoming a more Accessible Destination
More than one in six people in England and Wales having an ‘activity limiting’ health problem or disability. British and international visitors from this market segment currently spend over £3 billion on overnight tourism trips in England each year and UK disabled people spend up to £12bn on trips out this is especially relevant for businesses. In short, improving your accessibility could improve your business. Being an Accessible Destination will raise the profile of Hebden Bridge through social media and will really put you on the map of places that are going that are going that extra mile and are welcoming to people with a range of impairments.
Long term vision
It also goes beyond being good for business. It supports your own members of staff/volunteers who may themselves have a disability or one of their friends or family. The Hebden Bridge and Calder Valley community will hugely benefit, as will the elderly and families with buggies chance we have placed a community focus on this project.
What will businesses gain?
There are three aspects all businesses need to address to provide access for all:
- Customer service and training – being disability aware with the right attitude and confidence to serve all customers
- Information and marketing – providing detailed information on the accessibility of your facilities and services and making this information easy to find
- Physical facilities – making reasonable adjustments to buildings and facilities so they are easy for everyone to enter and move around
The cost of becoming an Accessible Destination
It may be surprising to know that some of challenges can be resolved in a low cost and creative way and this we have great experience with.
Each organisation will be able to apply for a grant of around £2000 to help with some of their challenges around meeting the needs of not only disabled tourists but also their families, their friends and of course local disabled people. The results of creating these changes will affect the whole community and the results can only be beneficial.
Do you want your local business to support your town to be an Accessible Destination?
If the answer is yes then please contact myself; Katie Clarke by email; Katie@visitsunlimited.org.uk for a copy of the expression of interest for the FREE Access Audit.
Or you can pick up a hard copy at the Watermark or the Town Hall in Hebden Bridge and return it there or post it to:
15 Savile Park Gardens
Our auditor Chris Cammiss will be meeting many people on his travels whilst doing our Access Audits. He will become a familiar face in the community. Chris is a very experienced auditor and will offer practical and reasonable recommendations for you.
Calderdale Community Foundation will administer the grants and their aim is to make this as easy as possible. What this means is there are no long-winded forms to fill consequently this making it an easy process. Businesses and organisations can give a phone call to the Foundation and someone will help with the process.
We are pleased to give something back to the Hebden Bridge community. Each member of our team were involved in supporting friends and the community during the boxing day floods 2015.
We love the motto of the community and the Watermark Fund. We are very proud to be working with so many good people including the new Disability Access Reference Group, Hebden Royd Town Council’s Mayor Tony Hodgins, the Neighbourhood Planning Committee, and businesses, organisations, venues and local people.