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Greenwich Parent Voice

Accessible beaches in the UK

A quick look at at some really good facilities on UK beaches including moveable walkways, accessible beach huts and Changing Places toilets.

Mobi-mats

At Sandbanks beach in Poole there are Mobi-Mats to help wheelchair users move easily from the promenade onto the sand and closer to the sea. These are available between Easter and September. Poole was the first place in Britain to pilot Mobi-Mats: highly durable walkways that can be divided and moved to facilitate all beaches across Poole.

The Mobi-mats create an easy path for wheelchair users, people with pushchairs and beach users who may struggle to walk on the sand. The borough introduced floating wheelchairs at the same time.

Accessible beach huts

Just along the coast at Bournemouth’s Boscombe Beach you’ll find the UK’s first purpose designed fully disabled accessible beach huts. These chalets have space for up to four wheelchairs and the space has been designed to be flexible.

Each hut features four folding chairs, a table, a split level work surface, gas stove, lockable cupboards and a shared fresh drinking water tap.

For large groups, two huts can be converted into one large space with the huts available to hire by individuals or disability groups. Bournemouth Tourism provides a lot of information on accessibility and places to go.

Changing Places toilets

As part of the Boscombe beach area’s accessible makeover the beach also has a Changing Places toilet with an overhead hoist and changing bed.To find Changing Places toilets around the UK, the website can be searched by area to see what facilities are available. For example, facilities may include a height adjustable bench, a ceiling hoist, a peninsular toilet and a washbasin with an adjustable height.

With around 1,100 Changing Places toilets in the UK there should be one at the coast near you.

Locations with such facilities include Penzance, Bude - Summerleaze, Weston-Super-Mare, Swansea, Llandudno, Blackpool, Arbroath, Whitley Bay, Hartlepool, North Berwick, Whitby, Bridlington, Skegness, Cleethorpes, Great Yarmouth, Felixstowe, Clacton, Southend-on-Sea, Whitstable, Margate, Broadstairs, Hastings, Brighton, Worthing, Bournemouth, Weymouth and Plymouth.

Beach Wheelchairs

These are available to hire around the UK, making a real difference to people who have not been able to get onto the beach for a long time. These wheelchairs have large pneumatic wheels so they can slide over sand. They may be provided by local tourism information, as in Great Yarmouth, or National Parks, as in Pembrokeshire. The organisation Disability Grants provides a map of where these wheelchairs are available (scroll to the bottom of the page). The same page has notes on locations provided by website visitors, including Brighton, Margate and Broadstairs, Cornwall, Cleethorpes and Edinburgh.

Some wheelchairs come with a charge while others a suggested donation. The amount of time they can be hired for can range from 30 minutes to the whole day.If you’re interested in hiring, you may want to check in advance whether the wheelchairs have head support, whether a hoist is available and the age the wheelchairs are suitable for. You’ll probably need someone able to push the wheelchair too.If you’re holidaying with a wheelchair, whether it’s yours or a beach wheelchair, you can look online for recommended accessible routes.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is a good example of an organisation providing clear information. It provides 16 routes for wheelchair walks and five adventure wheelchair walks. Brighton and Hove has a beach accessible walkway at The Hove Seafront Office. A search online will hopefully reveal if the location you’re heading to provides similar information.

(This news item is reprinted from https://www.braininjuryhub.co.uk/news/on-the-beach)