Disabled access in Yorkshire – who is leading the way?

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Countryside sites and venues in the Harrogate district doing great things to encourage visitors with disabilities are being sought for the 2020 Good Access Scheme award led by local charity Open Country.

Members of the public are being urged to nominate local nature reserves, national park sites and outdoor venues who are going the extra mile to improve access for people with physical, learning or sensory disabilities. Previous winners have included Nosterfield Nature Reserve near Ripon and Yorkshire Water for their work at Fewston Reservoir.

Open Country’s Good Access Scheme award was launched in 2015 to recognise the best countryside ‘access for all’ projects across Yorkshire each year. Outdoor sites can be nominated by the members of public who use them or by the staff or volunteers who manage them. Previous winners have included a number of local nature reserves as well as landowners who are working creatively to unlock the countryside for people of all abilities.

The awards are judged annually by Open Country’s Advisory Group, made up of disabled members, alongside volunteers and Trustees of the charity.

Yorkshire has seen unprecedented numbers of people accessing the countryside since lockdown restrictions have eased, with many taking solace in the therapeutic benefits of being around nature and wildlife. Unlocking the countryside for people of any ability is at the heart of Open Country’s work.

David Shaftoe, the charity’s Chief Officer, said:

Whether it’s a scheme to improve pathways or innovative projects for people with a sensory impairment, we’d love to hear about countryside sites going the extra mile to welcome disabled people. On your trips into the countryside over the next few weeks, keep in mind our award scheme and if you have an idea for a worthy winner, please do let us know.

Anyone who would like to make a nomination for this prestigious award should contact Open Country by email at info@opencountry.org.uk by the end of October outlining the ways in which the outdoor site or project has enhanced their disabled access.

The staff and volunteers of Open Country encourage anyone with a disability to access and enjoy the countryside. The charity provides information and advice on accessibility issues and organises a variety of countryside activities throughout the year for all abilities including walking, cycling, nature study and conservation projects.

For more information on Open Country and its work visit www.opencountry.org.uk

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Harrogate Informer