Portway Reference Group August 2009 Summary

Feedback summary from the Reference Group discussion in August 2009 for the Portway Lifestyle Centre.

Making the centre a welcoming and accessible place for all the community.

Thank you for your interest and participation in the Portway lifestyle Centre Reference Group.

We recently held a workshop morning at the Tipton Sports Academy, on Monday 17 August. We listened carefully to what representatives from the group said about how we can make the Portway Lifestyle centre a place that is welcoming, and encourages people to have a voice in how it will be managed.

We have recorded all views expressed during our discussions at the workshop. These will be fed into the Equality Impact assessment on the centre.

This summary focuses on key points that were raised during the day.

Feedback summary

We talked about the importance of checking what the centre needs in place to be inclusive for everyone to use.

We thought this could be like having an MOT on a car, to make sure everything works as well as possible.

We thought an MOT was important because:

  • It identifies hidden problems
  • It helps us decide; do we invest our money, or is it too expensive to run?
  • If one part isn’t working, everything else can be affected
  • When you know its working and you’ve checked everything “you are responsible”
  • You’re taking action before there’s a problem

We then spent the morning discussing four important questions in small groups around tables. We found we shared many similar views with each other, and the people responsible for planning the new centre.

We asked: How can we make the Portway Lifestyle Centre a welcoming place for all?

You told us:

  • The centre must be accessible for people with different disabilities, including appropriate signposting, lighting, colours, and car parking spaces
  • Include local art work in the interior design– work with schools, support groups, and people who use services
  • Make sure the reception staff have the right information available for centre users
  • Hold a pre-opening meeting to give feedback on accessibility of the building’s signs, symbols, and audio facilities
  • Customer service training for staff is key; treat everyone as a customer, not a “service user”
  • The centre should be clean and tidy, including staff!

We asked: How can we encourage people who do not usually come to a centre to get involved?

You told us:

  • Use events and work together with other organisations to keep engagement going
  • Make sure there are enough staff to go out and engage with the wider community to start with
  • Use everything we’ve got: local radio, posters, newsletters for different groups, group talks, and invite groups for taster sessions
  • A Transport plan could help promote independent travel to and from the centre
  • Hold culturally sensitive sessions – for example, women only activities with female staff
  • Incentives and wellbeing options for gymphobics, such as “bring a friend for free” could help
  • New posts, such as the Disability Sports Officer and Physical Activity Development Officers, will help
  • Promote use of Individualised budgets to access activities at the centre

We asked: What special qualities or skills may staff at the centre need?

You told us:

  • Training on different disabilities, working with disability group members as facilitators
  • Employ staff with disabilities, they could also give peer support
  • Interpreters need to be available to communicate in other languages, including sign language
  • Staff “Should know a little about a lot!” to signpost people on to other services
  • Understanding of local groups and local knowledge is crucial
  • Facilitation skills to encourage people out of their comfort zone
  • Staff of different ages are as important as abilities and cultural backgrounds
  • Good communication skills at all levels, including culturally sensitive communication
  • Specialised training – such as English Federation Disability and Sports training and briefing sessions from social care staff
  • Staff from Health, social care and Leisure should work together to enhance each other's services

We asked: How can people have a voice in the management of the centre?

You told us:

  • The reference group should continue after the centre opens, and advise managers to make sure the centre remains accessible
  • Carry out a simple questionnaire for regular feedback
  • A membership register of interested parties could help create interest, a sense of ownership and confidence
  • Make it easy to get involved with less ‘red tape’, and keep it going throughout the project
  • Options to dip in and out of getting involved at different times would help
  • Use Social networking sites such as Facebook, or a Text-in feedback option from time to time
  • Organise information sessions for the reference group, local groups and wider public
  • Managers from Health, Leisure and Adult Services need to be accessible to the public, and feedback actions from people who use services to their service areas
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