Hadleigh Park, the former Olympic mountain bike venue – now a family friendly leisure park – and Hadleigh Farm has become the first leisure space in Essex to be awarded the ECL Sensory Charter Mark. At an event on Friday 10 November members of the public, staff and volunteers gathered to celebrate, and to take part in activities on site.
The Charter Mark signifies to people with sight and hearing impairments that Hadleigh’s park and leisure facilities are accessible to them; the teams at Hadleigh were keen to achieve the award to further improve their accessibility and open up to more visitors.
Last year Hadleigh Park and Farm commissioned a sensory audit, and working with ECL Sensory Service worked with staff and volunteers with sight, hearing and dual sensory loss to assess buildings, pathways and other facilities. The recommendation report included improving acoustics and large print menus in the café, hearing loop systems on counters and training for staff on Lived Experience Sensory Awareness, all of which have been implemented.
Robert Anderson, Hadleigh Park manager said: “We are delighted to receive the Sensory Access Charter Mark and be the first leisure space in Essex to do so.
Physical activity and sport are important for everyone’s physical and mental health and wellbeing and that is why we hope the Charter will encourage people from the sensory community to visit the Hadleigh Park.”
This is part of the broader Active Essex vision to change one million lives and get the county active no matter their age or ability.
Faye Gatenby, Head of Sensory Services, at ECL said: “We are delighted to award the Sensory Charter Mark to Hadleigh Park and Hadleigh Farm. Their commitment to making the park accessible to as many people as possible is inspiring and is evidenced in the work and training they’ve undertaken. They are also working to support other parks and organisations by sharing their experience with others who are also looking to become more accessible to those with sensory impairments.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Ciaran, Robert and their teams, and hope this award will encourage more people to visit Hadleigh Farm and Hadleigh Park.”
Ciaran Egan, The Salvation Army’s operations manager for the estate, said: “For our facilities to be recognised as accessible community spaces is a great achievement. Throughout our history here in Hadleigh, The Salvation Army has been committed to making community life more inclusive. We hope the improvements we have made will mean even more people can enjoy Hadleigh Farm and Hadleigh Park.”
About Hadleigh Farm Estate:
The Salvation Army’s 900 acre Hadleigh Farm Estate incorporates a training centre for adults with additional support needs, Hadleigh Farm Tea Rooms, a rare breeds centre, as well as The Hub Café and partnership with Essex County Council at Hadleigh Park, the venue for the London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Event.