We’ve blogged about some of the issues facing families who have children or young people with complex needs when we interviewed Amanda Mortensen. See our blog ‘Amanda Mortensen – the Compass Card and my family’. Now we look at places that may be particularly suitable for these families. Many of them are Compass Card offers and you can find full information about them on the free Compass Card app (if you haven’t got it already, search ‘compass card’ in the App Store or on Google Play and download the Brighton and Hove or West Sussex version), or on the offers page on this website.
Please do feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section below – you just need to sign in with your Facebook, Twitter or Google account.
Alice Holt Forest
Bucks Horn Oak, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4LS
We’ve heard directly from parents of children with complex needs that Alice Holt is winner. There’s plenty of parking space (charged for), wheelchair accessible paths through the forest and a Changing Places facility at the entrance to the Visitors’ Centre. Alice Holt Cycling has a Compass Card offer which gives you a 25% discount on cycle hire and there’s a great range of adapted bikes to choose from. There’s a café, or you can take your own picnic – and siblings might enjoy a treetop adventure at Go Ape which is also located in the forest.
Young Street, Fetcham, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 9BS www.bockettsfarm.co.uk
Recommended by a group of parents in West Sussex, Bocketts Farm is a working family farm in the Surrey countryside with pig racing, animal handling, pony rides, wheelchair accessible tractor and trailer rides and lots more. There’s accessible parking and toilets and many areas are wheelchair accessible – but there’s also plenty to wear able-bodied children out, including trampolines, giant slides and indoor play barns. You can use your Compass Card to trigger disabled discounts here – £8.20 for card holders and one carer goes free.
Chichester Harbour Conservancy
Public Jetty, South Street, Emsworth, West Sussex PO20 7AW (summer season) www.conservancy.co.uk
What could be better than a summer’s day out on the water in Chichester Harbour’s Area of Outstanding Beauty? There’s a Compass Card offer on the solar-powered catarmaran, Solar Heritage (one carer goes free with the card holder) and the boat is wheelchair accessible, although the toilets on board are not. There are accessible toilets on the harbour.
Core Fest Saturday 29 July 2017
Hft Sussex Orchards, Freeman Close, Eastergate Lane, Walberton, West Sussex BN18 0AE www.corefest17.eventbrite.co.uk
Here’s a music festival with a difference. Run by learning disability charity Hft, Core Fest is an inclusive, independent music festival for all ages and abilities with a full musical line-up, music workshops and drumming, interactive storytelling, RepTylers mini zoo and chill-out and sensory areas. Compass Card holders, and everyone in their party, pay £4 per ticket and carers and under 18s go free. There’s free onsite parking, good wheelchair accessibility, accessible toilets and a hoist and adult changing bed. There’s a unique link to access the Compass Card discount – if you missed the link in Compass News, email email@example.com and give your full name, name of the Compass Card holder and the number on the back of the card.
Extratime Pop Up Day Wednesday 30 August
Heronsdale Primary School, Hawkins Crescent, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex BN43 6TN
Local charity Extratime is running a free Pop Up Day that will include children and young people aged five to 18 with complex needs and their families from 10am to 2pm on Wednesday 30 August. Aimed at families in West Sussex, there will be a full range of activities, including workshops, arts and crafts, a ball pit and sensory room, plus a changing bed with hoist and accessible toilets. To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01273 420580. To book, visit www.extratimebrighton.org.uk or call 01273 420580.
Interactive Room at Littlehampton Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre
Sea Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex BN16 2NA
Freedom Leisure has come up with a brilliant deal for Compass Card families at Littlehampton Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre’s ‘Interactive Room’ which is great for a rainy summer day or a party. For just £5 an hour for the whole group, you can enjoy an interactive audio and visual gaming experience which is suitable for children and young people with special educational needs and wheelchair users, as well as other family members. Games include a tactile wall, dodgeball, forcefield, dance off, turbo tag, smashball, jump rope, musical squares and splat. The venue has accessible parking, a changing facility with hoist and changing table and a food preparation area. There’s also a hoist in the interactive room. You’ll need to provide your own sling for the hoists.
Knockhatch Adventure Park
Hailsham Bypass, Hailsham, East Sussex BN27 3PR
If Knockhatch in Hailsham has its new Changing Places facility in place by August as planned, this could be a great place to take the whole family this summer. There’s so much going on, you should find something for everyone here. Set in 80 acres of countryside, there’s farm animals, Owl Shows, picnic areas and food outlets, a full range of activities including the Wave Rider Water Slide, Tommy Tractor Playbarn, Froggies indoor soft play area and more. Knockhatch has wheelchair parking close to the entrance, accessible toilets and level paths. There’s a Compass Card offer in place: one carer goes free with a paying card holder.
Thompson Lane, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 1JH
Marwell Zoo could be a great day out for the whole family in the summer holidays if you’re prepared to travel further afield. A 140 acre zoo in Winchester, you can see exotic and endangered species here including giraffes, white rhino and zebra and there are no less than five adventure playgrounds, along with a road and rail train, cafes and a picnic area. The Compass Card triggers Marwell’s disability deal where a carer goes free. You’ll find an accessible carriage on the road train for a standard wheelchair here, as well as accessible parking and toilets and a Changing Places facility.
Sea Life Brighton
Marine Parade, Brighton BN2 1TB
Sea Life in Brighton is a Compass Card offer that’s often highly valued by families of children who have complex needs, as well as those who benefit from a calm visual and sensory environment. A good proportion of the venue is wheelchair-friendly (avoid the steps to the building by using the tunnel off the beach close to where the Brighton Wheel used to be) and there’s a Changing Places facility close by at Colonnade Public Toilets on Madeira Drive. Sea Life provides a dazzling visual feast of aquatic creatures, including sharks, rays, turtles and sea horses. The Compass Card deal provides a free carer ticket, but if you’re likely to go regularly, it’s worth looking at purchasing an Annual Pass for the card holder for £45 (the carer gets a free pass).
SummerFest 2017 Sunday 9 August
Lodge Hill Centre, Watersfield, West Sussex RH20 1LZ
There’s some very good news indeed for 16 to 25 year olds in West Sussex with additional needs this summer. Amaze, West Sussex County Council and Lodge Hill outdoor centre have joined forces to provide a free music festival from 5 to 8pm. There will be live music, a chill out space, a range of entertainment including Bubble Pop and Polka Photography, free barbecue, vintage ice creams and mocktails, plus accessible toilets and a changing bed and hoist. Parking for wheelchair users is adjacent to the festival site and the field where the event takes place is on level grass. Carers and support workers are welcome. To book, email ShortBreakTeam@westsussex.gov.uk or call 03302 228224.
Thames Valley Adventure Playground
Bath Road, Taplow, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 0PR (use SL6 0EF with sat nav) www.tvap.co.uk
Thames Adventure Playground is a bit of a haven for those who are tired of play facilities that don’t work for wheelchair users. Priced at £8 per disabled child or adult with a free carer ticket, there isn’t a Compass Card offer in place here, but it’s well worth a visit with its wheelchair-accessible roundabouts and swings; elevated walkways that allow someone with profound and multiple disabilities to enjoy the excitement of ‘climbing’ trees; multi-sensory rooms to stimulate and relax; and specially-trained staff to provide help and support. You’ll find more information at http://www.tvap.org.uk/
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Saturday 23 September
Hft Sussex Orchards, Freeman Close, Eastergate Lane, Walberton, West Sussex BN18 0AE
If you’re familiar with the children’s book, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, this is where learning disability charity Hft got its idea for its themed adventure in Walberton, West Sussex on Saturday 23 September. There’s an obstacle course with hay bales, water, mud, snow, paint, wheelchair accessible routes and a deep, dark cave, rounded off with an invitation to the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, traditional village fair, live entertainment and storytelling and RepTylers Mobile Zoo. There are accessible toilets here, as well as a hoist and adult changing bed and free parking. Compass Card holders and their group get a 20% discount using a special website link. The link has been publicised in Compass News, or you can get it by emailing email@example.com with your full name, the name of the Compass Card holder and the Compass Card number on the back of the card.
We’re offering prizes for your best summer ideas
We’re blogging about leisure over the summer holidays, but we want ideas from you and we’ll be offering prizes for the best ideas. The ideas could be Compass Card offers, or have nothing to do with the Compass Card. You can comment below by logging on with your Facebook, Twitter or Google account (or if you prefer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or message us at Amaze Compass on Facebook) – and answer all or just one or two of the following:
1. What’s your ‘Failsafe leisure activity’ – the one that more or less works every time? Why does it work?
2. What’s your recommendation for ‘Leisure on a budget’ when money is tight? What does it cost and why do you think it’s a bargain?
3. Rainy day rescues or shelter from the heat – if you need to go undercover, what places do you recommend and why?
4. Do you have any other leisure tips or ideas for the summer? Please share them!