Recently, members of some of our projects have been involved in partnerships to improve access, inclusion and collaboration in the wider community. 

Why have we been doing this?

Making sure that the knowledge and opinions of people with learning difficulties and/or autism are heard and valued means that services and opportunities open to those people are really open to them.  We believe that this way of working together is essential in creating an inclusive and effective society.  That's why we sometimes get involved in projects like these that are not part of our usual day to day work. We call this way of working 'co-production'.

What we have been working on

Access to Cromers Wood, Sittingbourne

In April 2017, bemix [formerly Skillnet Group] projects Eco Shed and Swale Schools Project teamed up with Kent Wildlife Trust project Wooden It Be Crafty to carry out an accessibility assessment for Cromers Wood in Sittingbourne. People with and without learning difficulties and/or autism walked through the forest and gave advice on what could be improved to ensure that everyone can enjoy the woodland. 

The group wanted to make sure that pathways are wide enough and clearly defined from the borders to make them safe and usable for people using wheelchairs, pushing buggies or using other mobility aids, and for people with visual impairments.  The group also looked at the ratio of slopes on the site and advised on where landings would need to be so that the site can be used by wheelchair users.

Using the assessment report, Kent Wildlife Trust applied for and was successful in being awarded funding from Suez Communities Trust to improve the accessibility of the site which includes improving the access track, creating an accessible trail, interpretation, a viewing platform, providing picnic and resting benches. The work will be carried out this year.

Following the success of the partnership, Kent Wildlife Trust commissioned Eco Shed to build a new sign for the woodland. The sign was made from coppiced chestnut wood and hand carved to read “Cromers Wood”.  Eco Shed member, Garry Edwards [pictured below], led on carving the letters for the sign. Garry's aim within Eco Shed is to set up his own business, taking on commissions and hand-making unique, handcrafted wooden items for customers.


Ellington Park Regeneration, Ramsgate

Ellington Park in Ramsgate is being regenerated. For the past few months, our Ramsgate based Music and Arts Project has been working with the Friends of Ellington Park as part of an Access Matters consultation. 

“It’s so nice to get together and get to know other people. It is nice that now there will be somewhere to go in the local area in the evening for events that we can all enjoy together.” - Marion

The Friends of Ellington Park have been working in partnership with Thanet District Council to develop the park. Jan Loveless is the Director of Access Matters; an organisation working to support businesses to meet their statutory duties to disabled people and going beyond that to achieve best practice. On 12th March, Jan met with members of our Music and Arts Project to find out people's thoughts on the facilities and improving the layout. We were also asked for ideas on ways local people with and without learning disabilities could become active members of the community, and how this can be achieved through the development of Ellington Park.

We were just a few voices of the 6,500 people consulted about the developments for the park.

“I am proud that bemix is getting involved with the wider community in Thanet, which will hopefully put bemix on the map in the local area” - Clive

Members of the group proposed ideas for the park to have a community café that could hold events like open mic nights, activities and also a performance space on the bandstand.  People have been using their experience and knowledge not only about how to make the park accessible, but also to share ideas about developing opportunities to enhance the local music scene at the park. This is an important part of our work – people with learning difficulties and/or autism should first be seen for their skills, qualities and ideas not just for their disability or impairment.


“One small step for bemix, one giant step for the community”- Alex