Euan’s Guide, the amazing access review site, has recognised eight accessible venues across the UK for their accessibility and outstanding welcome for disabled visitors.
The awards, which are now in their second year, recognise the best accessible venues in each region, based on public nominations and reviews shared on Euan’s Guide.
If you are looking for an accessible day out in 2020, these venues should feature high on your list. The official top eight accessible venues are:
- Barbican – London
- Newquay Zoo – Southern England
- Cadbury World – Midlands
- Beamish, The Living Museum of the North – Northern England
- Holyrood Distillery – Southern Scotland
- Culloden Battlefield – Northern Scotland
- Folly Farm – Wales
- George Best Belfast City Airport – Northern Ireland
From the hundreds of nominated venues, these venues stood out by providing exceptionally good experiences to disabled people. For that reason, they were each named Venue of the Year for their region.
Euan MacDonald, Co-Founder of Euan’s Guide said: “Last year we awarded four venues across the UK. This year we felt it was only fitting to recognise eight venues that stretch across the UK. Each of these venues has shown tremendous commitment to providing an excellent experience to all in 2019, making them ideal places to visit in 2020.”
Each of these venues have been recommended by their disabled visitors. Disabled people use the disabled access review website Euan’s Guide to share their experiences and find new places to visit. Reading about someone else’s visit often gives people the information they need to decide if a venue is right for them.
Six of the eight venues have a Changing Places facility installed. Changing Places are provided in addition to accessible toilets, they contain additional equipment, such as an adult sized changing bench and a hoist, which a quarter of a million people require to use the toilet safely. Many of the winning venues provide step free access or have lifts installed to ensure that wheelchair users and those with mobility impairments can experience the venue in its entirety.
The Winning Venues
London’s Venue of the Year: Barbican
Arts and learning centre, the Barbican, is a vast space containing a concert hall, theatres, galleries, cinemas, restaurants and more. It is one of only a few places in central London to provide visitors with a Changing Places toilet as well as having a substantial number of accessible toilets across the site. Their programme includes a number of accessible performances, such as audio-described, sensory-friendly, captioned and BSL shows.
Speaking of the award, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director of the Barbican, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded London’s Venue of the Year by Euan’s Guide. We’re always striving to be inclusive, both in the work we programme and the exceptional experience we aim to offer all visitors to the centre, so this award is a very welcome recognition of the progress we are making in ensuring the Barbican is accessible to all.”
Southern England’s Venue of the Year: Newquay Zoo
Cornwall’s popular attraction offers a fun and educational day out. The team has taken great steps to try to ensure that the zoo is accessible to all by introducing a Changing Places toilet. Importantly, they are also open to feedback on how the services can be further improved.
Newquay Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: “Newquay Zoo’s new Changing Places toilet is a facility that we’re all very proud of. We want to keep improving on what we do for guests. We want everyone to feel not only that they’re welcome, but that they’re expected.”
Midlands’ Venue of the Year: Cadbury World
Birmingham’s fun and interactive Cadbury World stood out thanks to its fantastic staff. The venue has good accessibility with its own Changing Places toilet.
Gerrard Baldwin, General Manager at Cadbury World, commented on their award win saying: “We strive to offer an inclusive experience for everybody at Cadbury World, and want to create lasting memories of a wonderful day out for all of our visitors. Our aim is to be as inclusive as possible, so we are delighted to be named as the winner of the Midlands’ Venue of the Year by Euan’s Guide.”
Northern England Venue of the Year: Beamish, The Living Museum of the North
The open air museum in County Durham lets people travel back in time while still making an effort to ensure the experience is as accessible as possible. Many of the staff are Dementia Friends, the site has free wheelchair hire, an accessible bus, a Changing Places toilet and an induction loop system. They were thrilled to be included as one of the accessible venues being awarded.
Samantha Swinbank, Volunteer and Access Co-ordinator at Beamish Museum, said: “We’re so proud to receive this award as it’s recognition for staff and volunteers who go above and beyond for our visitors. We’re all committed to making the museum as accessible as possible. We’re excited for the future, continuing our development and hopefully welcoming many new visitors.”
Southern Scotland’s Venue of the Year: Holyrood Distillery
Edinburgh’s newest distillery won the award for Southern Scotland. The venue has clearly been designed with accessibility in mind, there is a spacious lift which ensures everyone will be able to participate in the full experience. The staff make it a memorable experience with their warm welcome and ability to adapt.
Debs Newman, Visitor Experience Director at Holyrood Distillery said: “We are incredibly proud that the first award for our distillery experience, within just six months of opening, recognises Holyrood Distillery as an inclusive and accessible venue and attraction, with people to match. From initial conception, it was always a priority to ensure that what we do at the distillery, both in production and experience, can be enjoyed by as many people as possible – taking them on an interactive and immersive journey into flavour, and the science and enjoyment of Scottish gin and scotch malt whisky. We welcome family groups, offer fully guided tours in a variety of languages, and are as physically accessible as possible. We are looking forward to introducing BSL experiences and making other enhancements to access as we continue to develop.”
Northern Scotland’s Venue of the Year: Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre
An important historic battle site, Culloden is informative and accessible. The site provides step free access, audio guides and knowledgeable staff. It provides access to all, regardless of their budgets with the paid for experience separate to the battlefield and visitor centre amenities.
Raoul Curtis-Machin, Operations Manager at Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre commented on the historic attraction being chosen as Northern Scotland’s Venue of the Year. He said: “This is fantastic news – at the Trust, we want everyone to experience and value Scotland’s heritage, and we will be researching ways to improve our accessibility at Culloden even more this year. We will celebrate this award with pride.”
Wales’ Venue of the Year: Folly Farm
For the second year in a row Folly Farm has been named Wales’ Venue of the Year by Euan’s Guide. The attraction has not only installed a Changing Places facility, but they have two rides, their Big Wheel and Land Train, which can accommodate a wheelchair user.
Emma Owen, PR Officer at Folly Farm said: “We’re delighted to be awarded ‘Welsh Venue of the Year’ 2019 by Euan’s Guide. We strive to ensure all guests have a wonderful guest experience with us and make a visit to our venue as inclusive as possible. It’s rewarding to know our guests feel we offer an outstanding welcome for disabled guests.”
Northern Ireland’s Venue of the Year: George Best Belfast City Airport
Belfast City Airport has implemented several changes to make the airport more accessible. It was the first UK airport to install a Changing Places toilet and the first to recognise JAM (Just A Minute) cards from the NOW Group. It continues to look for ways to improve with help from its Airport Accessibility Forum and was delighted to be recognised as one of Euan’s Guide’s accessible venues.
Bill Doole, Duty Manager at Belfast City Airport, said: “It is an honour to be named Northern Ireland’s Venue of the Year for our outstanding welcome for disabled visitors.
“It is important that our passengers, regardless of ability, feel welcome and comfortable when travelling through our airport. We retained our ‘Very Good’ rating for our accessibility services in 2019, the highest recognition available from the CAA, and our staff are specially trained to provide the best quality of service to meet the needs of any individual.
“Our Airport Accessibility Forum helps us work closely with disability support groups across the country to ensure we are continually improving our service through user feedback and listening, which in turn increases our understanding of different passenger’s needs.
“As a leading business, we aim to enrich the local community and consider comfort and convenience a top priority for all those who travel through Belfast City Airport.”
If their are any accessible venues; an attraction, museum, play park, music venue, restaurant or anywhere else that you have visited and been impressed by the accessibility and the warm welcome, why not let others know about it? Euan’s Guide exists to share access reviews of places from across the UK and the more reviews they have from disabled people, the better. Sharing experiences and accurate information on the accessibility of venues can help alleviate doubts and encourage people to visit more places, so get reviewing at euansguide.com.
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