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Frome must be accessible to all, campaigners say

Karen Stewart. Picture – James Bartholomew.

Over 50 people attended the ‘Access for All’ event this month to discuss accessibility in Frome.

Local charity, Fair Frome, organised the event in response to concerns from organisations and individuals in Frome regarding the lack of access to shops, businesses and social and community facilities.

The meeting, chaired by Karen Stewart, a Fair Frome volunteer who is herself a wheelchair user,  and facilitated by Sara Butler, a Fair Frome trustee, heard presentations from a range of local groups including Frome Open Storytellers, Changing Places, Frome Town Council, Meincluded, Mendip District Council,  and Kay Brickley on their own work and experiences.

Table discussions then took place, looking at the issues and concerns and possible solutions both short and long term.

Karen Stewart said, “What became obvious was the wide range of access difficulties there are in the town.

“When thinking about access people immediately think about wheelchair users, but the day’s event highlighted the difficulties a wide range of people have with access, including those with hidden disabilities such as hearing loss, parents with young children, the elderly etc.

“Whilst recognising the historic nature of Frome and the challenges that presents, there are parts of our town which are out of bounds to a large and significant section of our community. Given the numbers involved, this should be of concern to all of us and finding solutions will benefit everyone – service users and shops and businesses alike.

“The event highlighted some possible ‘quick wins’, some of which had previously been suggested in an earlier report on access compiled by the Frome PACE group.

“Note was also made of the progress of the Changing Places group whose requests are now being discussed at Mendip District Council.”

Sara  Butler added, “Next steps will be for Fair Frome to look at the wide-ranging issues and ideas that came from the day, and work with others to plan a cohesive short and long term strategy to both raise awareness of the issues and the benefits for everyone in working to improve access.”

For more information contact Fair Frome coordinator Wendy Miller-Williams at  info@fairfrome.org

Results and recommendations from the day will be published on the Fair Frome website at  www.fairfrome.org.uk