Access at Horton means access in its widest sense. It includes physical access for disabled women but recognises that removing certain practical barriers to visiting the Centre does not meant that it is then ‘accessible’. It also means a pricing policy that makes the Centre affordable for women on benefits and low incomes including women who need Personal Assistance.
Please email us if you are interested in getting involved in improving Access at Horton WHC. We recognise that our aims represent an ideal scenario, and are committed to making smaller changes to improve access in the meantime, and welcome ideas and feedback on this.
Our ideal is to refurbish the whole property to a high standard and ensure physical accessibility to all areas. This in summary means creating integral ramped access, installing a lift to the upper floor and ideally the cellar level, re-modelling the bathroom facilities including creating some en-suite accommodation, renovating the Coach House and installing a new kitchen and a new heating system.
Such extensive building works will inevitably result in an interruption to the normal running of the Centre. The re-opening of the Centre will provide an ideal springboard to re-launch the House with an extensive publicity drive around the theme of renewal, freshness, new opportunities and optimism for the future.
Once the work on the House is completed, we need to feel secure that all the organisations and groups who could potentially use the Centre already know about its existence and the facilities that it provides so that they will start to use it straight away. We need to be building links with new organisations and rekindling those links that are already established. The networking process is ongoing and has been enhanced through the consultation already undertaken towards this plan, it needs to be maintained through the months of upheaval and reduced service levels.
A thorough and comprehensive information campaign needs to be planned and delivered. The House has always relied on a widespread publicity via word of mouth and this will no doubt continue to be a vital source of visitors and support. As well as this we need to ensure that appropriate and up to date information about the Centre is available to every organisation and individual that could potentially want to use it. Clear, honest and accessible information in advance is essential for women to evaluate how the Centre and its surroundings can meet their needs.
We need to calculate what the new ongoing running costs of the Centre will be once the Development Plan is being implemented and the refurbishment work is complete. We need to seek evidence that the projected visitor income will cover these basic running costs and identify how any additional costs could realistically be covered. All budgetary planning will sustain the principle that the lowest rate for one night’s stay should not exceed one seventh of the weekly benefit rate.
Low environmental impact
The House is bound by the environmental constraints of being located in a national park but we want to go further. Refurbishment work gives us an ideal opportunity to make positive choices about the building materials and methods that we use, the utility and fuel systems that we put in place and our possible use of solar or wind power. In the house itself we will renew, re-use and recycle as much as possible.
This means both internal and external awareness. It means that Holiday Centre workers, management committee members and co-op members must have a good understanding of the issues of access for disabled women, lesbians, black & minority ethnic women, women with childcare responsibilities, carers, women on low incomes and any other women who might potentially want to use the Centre. This means that appropriate training, policies, induction procedures and ongoing review and monitoring systems must be in place. Potential visitors should be made aware of the ethos of the House and that it is a Centre available for all women who wish to use it. Visitors and workers need to be aware of the level of support that they can expect to receive and provide.
The Centre was originally set up through the dedication and determination of a small group of active women and a larger group of supporters. Without the support and involvement of members of the community whether in a voluntary or professional capacity, the Centre would cease to function. Current opportunities to support the Centre are fairly numerous and varied but it is essential that we review the ways in which women are able to make a contribution to the Centre and make sure that they are still appropriate and viable options for enough people.