Community groups and the work they do are essential to the lives and well-being of many people who often don’t fit the criteria for help set out by major charities. Many community groups exist in Eastbourne where alongside the good work of individual groups lies a problem common to all. That problem, exacerbated by the Victorian/Edwardian architecture of which Eastbourne is largely built, is accessibility. Not exclusively accessibility addressing mobility impairment but hearing and visual impairment too. These three major elements umbrella numerous associated conditions experienced by a significant proportion of Eastbourne’s population.
Provision of ramps where steps present a barrier, hearing loops in premises where people need to gather information and clearly defined colour contrast and clear signage where information and guidance is sought all contribute to reducing barriers leading to more inclusivity and equality for all. Addressing these issues by persuading service providers to follow guidance indicated by the Equality Act 2010 and the recommendations of good practice published by all charities focussed on helping people with physical or sensory impairment, will benefit others in the community who although not recognised as having a disability, are hindered by age and frailty.
To be truly Accessible to All care must be taken to ensure ease of access to premises, clearly written literature with large print copies available, and wide access toilet facilities incorporating room for changing if possible, the aforementioned clear signage and colour contrast and importantly empathetic help readily at hand. Group membership needs to be available to everyone with no discriminatory requirements or preconditions save for those that may compromise safety of the individual or other members. Health and Safety guidance should be sought and adhered to with a Health and Safety Policy adopted covering all situations likely to be encountered with regular risk assessment especially when undertaking any activity away from base. Sharing information between groups is essential to avoid replication and potentially weakening the effectiveness of any project being undertaken. By working in partnership community groups with singular missions complement each other’s work giving substance to the statement, “Individually we are good but together we can be great”
Eastbourne Access Group