All are welcome: accessing the festival

All are welcome: accessing the festival

A guest blog from our wonderful volunteer Access Team coordinator

Hi, my name is Louise and I coordinate the disabled access for Greenbelt Festival. I started volunteering on the team after coming to the festival with L’Arche for two years. I loved the festival instantly and when my time with L’Arche came to an end I wanted to be a part of it!

I am now involved in the new L’Arche Project in Nottingham, seeking to build communities of friendship and fun between people with and without learning disabilities.

I took on the Access Team leadership in 2011, developing the great work that had been done around physical access and bringing in an attention to emotional access, too; recruiting a team with more varied experience, including in mental health, learning disabilities, the autistic spectrum, and supporting children and families.

We have continued to look into how we can make Boughton more and more accessible to all. And here are a few practical ways in which we are supporting those with access needs this year:

  • After the success of last year’s early entrance for those with access requirements, we will be ready to welcome those who have pre-booked to arrive on the Thursday. You can do this via our pre-booking form (see the info below).
  • After last year’s arrival fun (we greeted festivalgoers dressed as superheroes), we again will be ready to help – this year in costumes with a starry theme!
  • The Haven is back, but we are moving. The Haven is our quieter venue, providing an unprogrammed, calm space in the busy hubbub of the festival. It will be back, with friendly faces, listening ears, quiet activities, camp beds, ideas about accessing the festival and useful information. Some of you mentioned that our previous spot was a bit too close to the mainstage, so we are on the move to a quieter location. Our location will be on the maps when they are released.
  • We are thrilled to be continuing to work with Fair Mobility this year – providing scooters and other mobility aids to hire
  • We have a Changing Places Toilet coming, where those requiring a hoist and more space to get changed can do so. (Please bring your own sling.)
  • We have a team who will be dedicated to helping you get you and your stuff onto and offsite. They will be operational on Thursday and Friday and then for a time on Monday afternoon and on Tuesday, first thing.
  • We have our online registration system – where you can tell us you’re coming and ask your questions ahead of the event. The closing date for pre-booking is Friday 12th August
  • We have our autism, learning disability, children, young people and family ‘leads’ – all of whom support other volunteer teams in what they do, too. We work closely with many teams to enable people to feel supported to enjoy the whole festival.
  • We are working with the venue teams on making sure that those with visual impairments, get space near the front of the venues. Please speak to a member of our team at The Haven for more information.
  • Again, the ground in the main Glade Arena area is flatter this year – thanks to the groundstaff at Boughton House who have completely dug up and relaid that field after our first year’s bumpy ride.
  • We have a charging tent on the campsite to charge mobility aids day and night.
  • There will be plenty of disabled toilets.
  • There will be large print and easy-read documents in advance of the festival. These will also be available for those who need to upload it on to their braille readers and other reading devices.
  • We welcome back our amazing team of BSL interpreters from Signs of God. Information about where they will be and when can be obtained from the Info Booth onsite.
  • We will have a loop system in a number of our main venues.
  • We have got our ‘meet-ups’ for people on the autistic spectrum. These will be available for people to go through the programme with support, meet others and seek advice. We will be advertising these nearer the time.
  • We are working with the Children’s Festival’s ‘Buddies’ team who ensure that families get a pair of helping hands when required to help them access the festival.

My team and I are so proud of all we have achieved so far, but we still can’t promise that it will be perfect. We have a lot to learn still, as this is only our third year at Boughton. But we can promise that we are committed to making the site and the festival more and more accessible, year-on-year. I couldn’t do this without my amazing team. They work tirelessly during, before, and after the festival.

We’re looking forward to our four days together at the end of August back at Boughton House. We can’t wait to see the many people who come and interact with our team – old and new faces alike. In the meantime, register with us so that we can inform you in advance of the festival of all that we can do to support people to access the festival.

See you under the Silent Stars!

Access Team Leader