Finding leisure opportunities for a child or young person with complex needs can be difficult and it’s more challenging still if you’re trying to please other members of the family too.

Almost a year ago, the Compass Team met with a group of families that have children and young people with complex needs. We talked about the offers they’d like to see on the Compass Card and other ways we could help.

It can be tricky getting offers that work for these families. Firstly, as many parents will know, there’s a shortage of suitable providers out there. And secondly, some suitable providers are charities and they can’t afford to provide a Compass Card discount. But there are things we can do.

  • In April last year, we made negotiating complex needs offers one of the key priorities in our Offer Development Strategy.
  • In April 2017, we added two new filters to our free Compass Card app to help complex needs families decide on the offers that may work for them. All Compass Card offers can be filtered to show venues that have hoist-assisted changing on site or venues that have hoist-assisted changing within a kilometre of the venue.
  • We’ve improved our communications so we point out when leisure activities in our e-newsletters, on social media and on the Compass Card website are suitable for children with complex needs.
  • We continue to work behind the scenes to improve accessibility among Compass Card Partners.

Since April 2017 we’ve added eight new Compass Card offers that are suitable for complex needs families and we’ll continue to seek them out. We welcome feedback, so if you have any suggestions for new offers or anything else that will help your family access Compass Card offers, please let us know. You can email compass@amazesussex.org.uk, personal message us on Facebook (Amaze Compass Card), call us on 01273 772289 (Brighton and Hove families) or 0300 123 9186 (West Sussex families), use our website feedback form, or comment below (you just need to sign in with your Facebook, Twitter or Google account).

We’ve listed below leisure venues we think are particularly suitable for children and young people with complex needs. 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 our offers page.

Alice Holt Forest

Bucks Horn Oak, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4LS www.foreWoman and young man on assisted bike.stry.gov.uk/aliceholt

This beautiful forest is popular with complex needs families and it’s little wonder. There’s lots of parking space (charged for), but wandering round the forest is free, there are wheelchair accessible paths and a Changing Places facility at the entrance to the Visitors’ Centre. Alice Holt Cycling also has a full range of adapted bikes. There’s a café, or you can take your own picnic and there’s a Compass Card offer at Go Ape for energetic siblings.

Bocketts Farm

Young Street, Fetcham, Leatherhead, Surrey KT22 9BS www.bockettsfarm.co.uk
Three pigs running in a field.
This family farm in the Surrey countryside has good wheelchair accessibility: accessible parking and toilets and lots of areas that are wheelchair-friendly, plus wheelchair accessible tractor rides. There’s loads to do for able-bodied kids too, so everybody’s happy! The Compass Card triggers disabled discounts – £8.60 for the card holder and a carer goes free.

Chailey Heritage Futures Life Skills Centre

Haywards Heath Road, North Chailey, Lewes, Close up of young man in a wheelchair smiling,East Sussex BN8 4EF www.chf.org.uk/futures-life-skills-centre.html

It’s hard to match the amazing facilities for over 16s with physical disabilities and/or learning disabilities at Chailey, a purpose-built facility in rural Sussex. There’s a fully-equipped gym, spa and sauna with treatments, multi-media suite, arts and craft facilities, , multi-sensory room, café and a gadget-filled kitchen and living skills area. There’s plenty going on in the schools holidays, as well as in term time and there’s a 15% discount for Compass Card holders on standard prices (except gym packages), plus it’s fully accessible with free parking and hoist-assisted changing. There’s plenty going on at Easter at Chailey, so check it out!

Chichester Harbour Conservancy

Public Jetty, South Street, Emsworth, West Sussex PO20 7AW  www.conservancy.co.uk

Spring is on the way and on a sunny day, a trip on a solar-powered catamaran on Chichester Harbour is hard to beat. There are accessible toilets on the harbour and the boat is wheelchair accessible. One carer goes free with a Compass Card holder.

Extratime

www.extratimebrighton.org.uk

Young man in a wheelchair with carer.Extratime, well-established in Brighton and Hove for its inclusive activities, is still fairly new to West Sussex, but is now carving out a reputation for fully inclusive Fun Days in the county. We’re told there are fun days at Southwick Leisure Centre and Herons Dale School coming up, but dates haven’t yet been confirmed. Meanwhile, Extratime Easter holiday schemes are fully booked in Brighton and Hove, but the next ones are at Portslade Village Centre and Woodingdean Youth Centre holiday in May Half Term and booking forms are now online.To find out more, email brett.preston@extratimebrighton.org.uk or call 01273 420580. To book, visit the website or call 01273 420580.

Interactive Room at Littlehampton Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre

Sea Road, Interactive Room at Littlehampton Sports Centre.Littlehampton, West Sussex BN16 2NA
www.compasscard.org.uk/offer/interactive-room-at-littlehampton-swimming-and-sports-centre

Interactive games, wheelchair accessibility, accessible parking, a changing facility with hoist and a hoist in the games room make Compass Card offer hard to beat. Even better, it costs just £5 an hour for the whole family and there’s a food preparation area. Suitable for children and young people with special educational needs, as well as other family members, games include a tactile wall, dodgeball, forcefield, dance off, turbo tag, smashball, jump rope, musical squares and splat.

Flip Out

Atlas House, Glenmore Business Park, Portfield, Chichester PO19 7UW www.flipout.co.uk/locations/chichester

Flip Out in Chichester is an indoor trampoline park with a difference. There are regular Rebound sessions and sessions for children and young people with additional needs and you’ll find the venue is wheelchair accessible with accessible parking. The venue also promises a Changing Places facility soon. The Compass Card triggers the disability rate for the card holder and one or two carers.

Knockhatch Adventure Park

Hailsham Bypass, Hailsham, East Sussex BN27 3PR www.knockhatch.com
Meerkats
Knockhatch has had a good reputation for inclusivity for some time, but it’s hard to match now it’s added a Changing Places facility to its extensive list of disability-friendly facilities. The whole family can enjoy a day out here and there’s wheelchair parking close to the entrance, accessible toilets and level paths. If you show your Compass Card, one carer goes free.

Lewes Castle and Museum

169 High Street, Lewes, Eat Sussex BN7 1YE Lewes Castlewww.sussexpast.co.uk/properties-to-discover/lewes-castle

Only the ground floor of this historic building is accessible, but the ‘Morning Explorer’ sessions are worth a visit. Exclusively for families whose children have additional needs, this is an opportunity to explore without the crowds, get help to access hands-on collections and try out activities. Show the Compass Card to trigger the free carer offer at the castle.

Libraries in Brighton and Hove and West Sussex

Libraries in Brighton and Hove and West Sussex provide free CDs, DVDs and audiobooks for Compass Card holders and there are free communication devices to borrow from West Sussex libraries through ‘Understand Me – the communication library’ [link – https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/libraries/more-library-services/understand-me-the-communication-library/ ] There are also seven regular Story Magic sensory storytelling sessions in West Sussex libraries and they’re ideal for children and young people with complex needs. You’ll find Story Magic at Burgess Hill, Chichester, Crawley, East Grinstead, Horsham, Littlehampton and Worthing – find out more here https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/libraries/whats-on-in-libraries/regular-library-activities-by-topic/regular-activities-for-children/library-multi-sensory-story-magic-schedule/

Marwell Zoo

Thompson Lane, Winchester, Hampshire SO21 1JH www.marwell.org.uk/zoo

Marwell is great for a special day out and there’s an accessible carriage on the road train for a standard wheelchair, accessible parking and toilets and a Changing Places facility. There’s a new Tropical House opening in time for Easter where you can see colourful animals, fish and insects, along with many endangered species like giraffes, white rhino and zebra. A carer goes free if you show the Compass Card.

Planet Ice

Forest Way, Off Fareham Road, Gosport, Hants PO13 0ZX
www.planet-ice.co.uk/arena/gosport

You can take manual and electric wheelchairs onto the ice at Planet Ice during all public sessions and the venue is wheelchair accessible with accessible toilets. Compass Card holders pay £3 to skate at public sessions and one carer goes free of charge.

Sea Life Brighton

Marine Parade, Brighton BN2 1TB
Giant turtle and shark swimmingwww.visitsealife.com/brighton/

A long time favourite with Compass Card holders in Brighton and Hove, much of the venue is wheelchair-friendly (avoid the steps to the building by using the tunnel off the beach where the Brighton Wheel used to be) and there’s a Changing Places facility close by at Colonnade public toilets on Madeira Drive. The Compass Card offer here provides a free ticket for a carer, but the Annual Pass at £45 is a better deal if you’re a regular visitor.

Thames Valley Adventure Playground

Bath Road, Taplow, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 0PR (SL6 0EF with satnav) www.tvap.co.uk
Young person on a wheelchair accessible roundabout
Those who feel jaded about play facilities for wheelchair users will find well designed, properly inclusive facilities here that are well worth the journey. You’ll find wheelchair accessible roundabouts and swings, elevated walkways and specially trained staff to offer support. Entry is £8 per disabled child or adult and a carer goes free.

Tilgate Park

Titmus Dr, Crawley RH10 5PQ www.crawley.gov.uk/pw/Leisure_and_Culture/Tilgate_Park

There are Compass Card offers in place at the Walled Garden Community Café, Go Ape and Tilgate Forest Golf Centre and there’s a hoist-assisted changing facility in Tilgate Park, so it may be worth a visit.

Woodland Wonders Forest School

www.woodlandwondersforestschool.co.uk

‘Wheely Wonders’ is ideal for physically disabled children and young people, siblings and carers and offers nature, animals, arts and much more in a supportive environment. There are also one-off Compass Card offers on some activities.