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Bristol's Inclusive Climbing Festival

September 11th, 2014

iDID CEO, Susanne Rees, talks about the shenanigans of BIC Fest and why collaboration is vital for sustainable inclusion

So, the team have asked me to blog about my experience of the Bristol Inclusive Climbing Festival from its inception to implementation. To be fair, this is a really difficult task, so many amazing people have been involved in this event so I will cover from my perspectives and apologies in advance for anything I miss.

Firstly, i'm really proud to say that the inspiration for this event came from iDID's Adaptive Adventure Conference in April of this year. This was the first occasion I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Rosa from The Climbing Academy and Rose from Redpoint Climbing Centre, both in Bristol. We had recently launched a club in Bristol so it was fantastic to see the support of the professionals the club work with.

Refreshing Positivity

What I found particularly refreshing to see was just how excited they were to learn how they can provide inclusive opportunities. With the conference finished, Rosa wasted no time getting in touch to move things forward and the following months included countless emails, idea swapping and event objectives. One thing we all agreed on was that this event should be a catalyst for sustainable inclusion in the Bristol area... to make sure whatever your preference for participation, your aspirations as a climber or (most importantly) additional needs, there was an opportunity to be signposted to. I'll talk more about this later, first lets focus, quite rightly so, on the event itself.

Two weeks prior to the event, BIC Fest staff were subject to a weekend training course with iDID Adventure covering Inclusive Communications, Deaf awareness and Sight Guiding. This enabled them to think differently about communication and learn how to use adaptive methods when working with deaf and disabled people on the climbing wall. Once again, the instructors had a proactive and positive approach to their training and there was a real atmosphere of change in the air... I love that!

"As an instructor it meant the opportunity in advance to undertake a variety of brilliant courses to open my eyes to the possibilities available to assist anyone to get on the climbing regardless of any impairment" Peter Derrett, TCA Instructor

Feeling motivated, we all began the final countdown..

The Festival

From my perspective, it was fantastic to see how engaged all the climbing instructors were in their sessions and some, who started out nervous, became a beacon for problem solving when addressed with new barriers to overcome. Obviously, the participants were having an incredible time but my focus was not on them. My focus was on the professionals because I KNEW the participants would be fine. We've run plenty of events to know that. 

Anyway, I will let the pictures speak for themselves. I just want to add a huge thank you to everyone involved in the day. Particularly Rosa and Rose, Sarah from iDID Bristol, Julia from Access Sport, Camilla who volunteered as an interpreter and Mark from Bristol Disability Equality Forum. We were fortunate to have some amazing role models to give a demo and speak about their experiences. Nik Royale, the UK's first climbing instructor with Cerebral Palsy and Georgia Pilkington, British Paraclimbing Champion. Most importantly to all the staff and participants.

Check out some of the photos by clicking on the image below.


Ensuring Sustainability

I talk about sustainability a lot and really, it's sad that this isn't a top priority when organising events. It's all very well having one off events but is it not a waste of resources if there is nothing to follow?

A core principle at iDID adventure is to ensure we support professionals to take responsibility for inclusive provisions. The term 'disability' covers such a wide spectrum of needs, it is easy to assume you have to be an expert in everything disability related to be able to work with disabled people. Really, you need to have an open mind and a willingness to learn from others. its that simple. Some professionals we work with are over specialised and find it difficult to accept doing something different but with a little support and the right attitude, accessibility is so easy to achieve!

Now, add another barrier... financial motivation. Realistically, deaf or disabled people may need some extra support and this can sometimes mean more man power - its one of the most common reasons I hear for centres not providing inclusive opportunities. This is where collaboration is vital. 

Cue the bit about sustainability...

And so it goes, a story about working together. It never ceases to amaze me when people assume that they can do everything on their own. We are living in a time where collaboration is key. Funding now relies on results and investors on evidence of sustainability... this is more true for social enterprise but essentially, the third sector is changing and we must too change with it.

So how does that relate to BIC Fest. Well, collaboration has been key since the start, during the event and now looking to how they continue the legacy. This has been through the collective work of The Climbing Academy, Redpoint Bristol, iDID Bristol and Access Sport. The relationship works by using an effective referral system to ensure all needs are catered for and a maximum impact is had. It is certainly a model to be replicated by other professionals looking to launch their own inclusive climbing festival or accessible opportunities.

If you've been inspired by the Bristol Inclusive Climbing Festival and want to run your own.  You can get in touch with iDID and/or the BIC Fest team directly for support. 

Categories:   iDID Adventure  

Posted By:  Susanne Rees

Comments:  0

Help us to save local provisions for young people

September 3rd, 2014

Local social enterprise needs your help to stop disadvantaged young people losing out on crucial services to gain skills and qualifications

Adventure Ways is a social enterprise working with young people at risk by providing a solid base for personal development through outdoor learning and activities. Working will disengaged youth and disadvantaged young people, Adventure Ways receive a high number of pupil referrals from schools across Northamptonshire.

To accommodate this growing need, recent permission was given to erect a high ropes course to support the innovative programmes provided. Due to a misunderstanding however, Daventry District Council have refused just one section of the platform that enables these young people to gain vital qualifications.

Many organisations across Northamptonshire will be affected by this decision. Change of Scene which is based in Northampton, relies heavily on the provisions at the Moulton site. Change of Scene is a charity run by Cllr Anna King that uses adventurous activities as a tool to transform the lives of young people, through an innovative and exciting programme. iDID Northampton, a local adventure club for deaf and disabled people also works closely with Adventure Ways to provide accessible opportunities.

“I find it heart breaking when provisions that support the hardest to reach individuals to help themselves, are taken away due to simple misunderstandings. It is easy to forget that some young people have neither the psychological capacity nor emotional ability to engage with the community and services such as these are crucial to a successful transition” - iDID Adventure Director Susanne Rees

The climbing tower, although supported in its initial planning permission, is due to be taken down by December due to the new application being rejected on the basis of a small number of local resident concerns.

"We are extremely disappointed, the climbing and abseiling tower would give focus to these young people and build skills that lead to genuine employment… something most young people struggle with! The aim was to provide courses such as the Mountain Training Climbing Wall Award. The large fees we will have to incur to run these programmes means that young people will once again be uprooted to unfamiliar environments and programme provision will most certainly be affected” - Adventure Ways Director Kurt Perryman



Adventure Ways need your help to support their appeal. Join the community in signing this petition to allow the use of this much needed facility to support disadvantaged and disengaged youth in Northamptonshire. A huge thank you to everyone in advance!

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

Categories:   iDID Adventure  

Posted By:  Susanne Rees

Comments:  0