QEF – increasing options for travel and holidays for people with disabilities
Planning a holiday as a disabled person or with a disabled family member presents various challenges. However, Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF), which specialises in helping disabled people to gain independence, offers several ways to overcome these challenges.
One of the holiday options that QEF offers is a canal boat that’s highly adapted, not just to be wheelchair friendly and has accessible accommodation, but which can be piloted by someone that has very limited movement.
There is also the ‘Tryb4uFly’ service that enables disabled people to try out various seating and transfer options that will help make a flight easier before taking a trip. The best option can then be rented or bought from QEF.
Tryb4u Fly can help to reduce anxieties that may be associated with flying by allowing disabled people to try out seating and transfer solutions for both adults and children in an aircraft fuselage with real aeroplane seating, for a realistic experience, so that the most appropriate equipment can be identified. Currently this service is offered in Carshalton, Surrey, near London, and also now in Leeds as well.
The question QEF always asks when it comes to offering travel options for people with disabilities or injuries is ‘how can we positively change people’s lives and increase their independence?’ When it came to the canal boat – the QEF Jubilee – the answer was not just to make it wheelchair-friendly, but to ensure that taking charge, being at the helm of the ship, is something that even people with severe disabilities can do with just a small amount of training. The adaptations include hydraulic lifts and a helm area with both wheel and joystick controls. There is a full medical bed and a hoist, two more beds with hoist tracking, eight other beds, and bathroom with a shower that can accommodate a power wheelchair.
Based in Hemel Hempstead on the Grand Union Canal, the QEF Jubilee can travel down into London, which means that many of the city’s attractions are available, or head out through the Chiltern Hills, including to wheelchair accessible nature reserves. Matt Sharpe, a young wheelchair user that went on a trip on the QEF Jubilee with his family. He said: “The best bit is the steering. I’ve controlled the boat and really enjoyed it.”
Matt’s mother added: “Matt feels so often that he’s excluded from things that most people can do, but this has just been fully inclusive and he’s had a lovely time.”
To find out more about QEF canal boat holidays please visit www.vasd.org.uk or call 01372 841148.
To find out about Tryb4uFly please visit www.tryb4ufly.org.uk.