5 Places for a Disabled Activity Break in the UK

If you require a fun getaway and want to experience some new activities, treating yourself to an adventure break may be the ideal holiday for you. As providers of high-quality mobility scooters in North Devon, we know how important it is to have the accessibility to an adventure! Here at Essential Mobility, we have selected a variety of accessible sites across the country which are specifically aimed to offer activity holidays for those who have disabilities. If you would like some handy tips on travel, take a look at our blog on Travel Advice for the Disabled.

Exmoor pony in a field.

The Calvert Trust

The Calvert Trust is an exceptional charity who specialise in providing accessible, adventure holidays for everyone to enjoy. There are three centres in total, and these are situated across England in Exmoor, Kielder and the Lake District. The accessible sites each offer a range of activities specialised to each centre and include experiences such as abseiling, kayaking, cycling and horse riding. Here at Essential Mobility, we are proud to know that Calvert Trust Exmoor is located not far from our Barnstaple store. Located close to the stunning North Devon coastline, a more recent addition to the list of activities, Calvert Trust Exmoor now provides one to one surfing lessons which make for an exciting adventure break!

Swans grazing at the edge of water.


This award-winning charity offers exciting activity breaks for those who would like to experience life on a canal. They host adapted canal boats which can be used by those who have disabilities or special needs. The canal breaks can be enjoyed as a full day out or as a weekend getaway. Situated in Essex, the charity offers journeys through the beautiful countryside belonging to Essex and Hertfordshire along the River Stort and Lee. Adventure trips allow you to steer the canal boat and you can try your hand at managing the locks. Longer breaks will enable you to experience the city of London through the Grand Union Canal. Fully equipped to meet requirements necessary for passengers, the boats are fully centrally heated to deliver fantastic adventures all year round.

East Soar Outdoor Experience

This accessible site can be found in South Devon, nestled amongst a charming National Trust farm, close to the well sought after coastal town of Salcombe. It is home to a variety of activities which offer the opportunity to team build. Whether you would like to make the most of the stunning nearby beaches, have a go at bushcraft, test yourself with problem-solving challenges or cook up a feast with outdoor cooking, there are plenty of options to choose. It is mainly aimed to provide outdoor activities for children with educational needs but can also be accessed by mainstream groups. The accessible site stretches across seven and a half acres of glorious countryside and farmland.

Close up on the deck of a white yacht.

The Nancy Oldfield Trust

Their motto is ‘making adventure possible’, with a stunning site located in the idyllic village of Neatishead on Barton Broad, at The Nancy Oldfield Trust, you will want to indulge in the all the water activities offered here. The site specialises in water based activities including sailing, canoeing and motorboat trips. The motorboat trips soar across the Barton Broad, offering a sense of tranquillity amongst the beautiful scenery and wildlife of the area. Available for holidays over a week or a couple of days, this accessible site is suitable for all ages and abilities.

Woodlands Adventure

Located in the West Midlands, Woodlands Adventure is geared to bringing groups of people together through fun and life-enhancing activities. Whether you belong to a university social group, want to organise a school trip or require a bonding experience for work purposes, this adventure break is the perfect place to make memories and try new experiences. On hand to ensure any necessary requirements are met, Woodlands Adventure is equipped with hoist and slide boards to ensure all guests can have a go at a desired activity and staff are fully trained to support all guests. Popular experiences at this accessible site include paddle sports, a climbing wall and abseiling.

Have you experienced a memorable holiday in the UK? Do you have any suggestions for accessible sites in the UK? We would love to hear about them! Share your experiences with us via our social media channels- we look forward to hearing from you.

Hidden Disability Sunflower Lanyard Scheme

On 7th October 2019, Sainsbury’s and Argos announced that they would be introducing sunflower lanyards across all of their stores in the UK. Their aim is to ensure shoppers with hidden disabilities receive an improved experience, as staff and fellow shoppers are made aware of potential disabilities.

This introduction followed a trial in 2018, where the success of the lanyards showed encouraging signs where there were proven benefits to shoppers and employees.

The scheme is intended to reassure and assist customers with hidden disabilities. By wearing the lanyard, staff can very easily and quickly identify a member of the public that may need assistance or extra support.

What are Sunflower Lanyards?

A sunflower lanyard is intended to be worn by a person with a hidden disability. The bright green lanyard is dotted with sunflowers, making it very easily identifiable when worn around the neck and free from obstruction. The sunflower lanyard scheme is supported by various charities, including Alzheimer’s Society, RNIB, The National Autistic Society and many more. Several businesses are opting to introduce the scheme too, with many airports taking positive steps. Most notably, is Manchester, where a Sunflower Room was recently opened, allowing those with disabilities to take some time away from busy departure lounges.

Wearing a lanyard is entirely voluntary, and those with hidden disabilities are not, under any circumstance, required to wear one. Instead, it is an opt-in, whereby those with hidden disabilities or families and friends who are accompanying them, can discretely inform staff that they may need assistance.

What is Classed as a Hidden Disability?

An umbrella term, a hidden disability encompasses a range of disabilities. A hidden disability is classed as a disability that is not immediately obvious to others. People with hidden disabilities may face additional difficulties when out in public, as it may not be entirely obvious to staff members that they require assistance.

Hidden disabilities include but not limited to:

• Epilepsy
• Diabetes
• Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
• Cystic Fibrosis
• Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and other psychiatric disabilities
• Deaf or blind.

Two heads of sunflowers.

Where Can Sunflower Lanyards be Used?

Although there are currently only a handful of businesses which have opted to introduce the use of lanyards, as awareness of their meaning and popularity increases, many other businesses will likely follow suit. This increase in awareness also means that the general public is becoming more aware of their meaning. We hope that over time, those with hidden disabilities can wear their lanyard in public, and the majority of people will know exactly what they represent. Whether you’re on public transport, at an airport, in the supermarket or the garden centre, you will be able to receive the additional support that you may need discretely.

How to Get a Sunflower Lanyard?

Lanyards are free, and you don’t need to provide any proof of your disability. Simply head to a participating store and request one at either the checkout or service desk. You might want to call ahead to check they have them available to avoid any disappointment.

Will you be opting into the sunflower lanyard scheme? Are you pleased that it has been introduced? We’d love to know what you think of it; get in touch via our social media channels.

If you are or know of anyone with limited mobility, why not browse our range of high-quality mobility scooters? Here at Essential Mobility, we pride ourselves in offering the best service to our customers, where your needs are of paramount importance to us, give us a call and find out how we can help you.

Accessible Tarka Trail Highlights

Last Bridge To Bideford

CC by Andrew (Last Bridge To Bideford)

The Tarka Trail is a beautiful walking and cycling route spanning North and West Devon, as well as Torridge. The trail is one of the most extensive dedicated walking and cycling paths in the country and has an array of highlights along the route. This blog will explore some of those attractions that are wheelchair-accessible, and will hopefully encourage you to visit some of them for yourself.

Most people think of the Tarka Trail as only consisting of the 30-mile stretch between Braunton and Meeth. However, the full Tarka Trail is actually a figure of eight around Devon, reaching from Bideford to Exmoor, and from Exmoor to the tip of Dartmoor. In total, the trail is over 160 miles in length, with many attractions along the way. This blog will include the extended 160-mile trail’s attractions.

Continue reading “Accessible Tarka Trail Highlights” »

Will you be driving an autonomous car?

It may be that self-driving cars are not as futuristic than we had once believed, with the testing of autonomous cars already happening in the US and approval for trials in the UK. Apart from those who like to have the latest technology, autonomous cars will have substantial benefits for people who cannot drive themselves. With all terrain mobility scooters helping disabled people visit places that were once difficult to travel to, the introduction of autonomous cars will be another step forward in allowing disabled people more independence.

Disabled woman drives autonomous car.

The past couple of decades has seen the positive effects that technology can have on the lives of disabled people. Autonomous cars are set to be the next big technological advance for disabled individuals, with many studies showing that disabled people can feel isolated, at times, due to a lack of effective transport services. This new technology could assist and help to drastically improve any individuals experiencing a level of exclusion. Schemes and policies have gone a fair way to help provide a sense of independence, although the level of independence provided by the arrival of autonomous cars will make a substantial difference to the lives of many elderly and disabled individuals.

However, it is yet to be proven whether people will opt to use these new cars. Only on the acceptance of these autonomous cars being cleared as safe to use will we see them being a viable option. This is obviously an exciting and life-changing prospect for many. However, there will need to be more plans needed before we see the cars on the road.

There are obviously many questions surrounding this new technology, including the need for a ‘driver’ in case of a problem. International laws indicate that a driver must be present at all times to control the vehicle. If a disabled individual, who is not able to drive themselves, would want to use an autonomous car they would still need a passenger who would be able to control the vehicle in case of an emergency. Under this current law, the autonomous car seems somewhat pointless.

Solutions to this issue could be developing a system that is monitored from a central location, and that can over-ride the controls of a car if necessary. This would solve the issue in regards for a driver always needing to be in control of the car, but may pose even more problems in terms of infrastructure, technological capabilities of manufacturers and privacy of users.

It may be a little while off until we see everyone using autonomous cars on the road.

Image credit:  DimiTVP available under Creative Commons.

Disability employment still a huge issue according to new report

There are many difficulties faced for people that need high quality mobility scooters. As well as navigation around places that are not fully equipped for wheelchair users, employment is still a huge issue for disabled individuals.

In light of the stark realities highlighted in the ‘Realising Aspirations for All’ report, by the national disability charity Sense, the government will now work closely with the charity on the upcoming Green Paper into work and health. The report showed the employment inequalities face by many disabled jobseekers across the UK.

The Minister for Welfare Reform has praised the new report by Sense, stating that the government echo their hopes for all disabled people, with health conditions, to reach their full potential and achieve occupational aspirations.

The report found that young deafblind individuals are the most marginalised group in society, with a very small percentage (4%) of people aged 18-25 year-old with dual sensory impairments in employment.

For the broader spectrum of disabled individuals, 46% are currently not in employment; this means that the rate of employment is 30% lower than their non-disabled peers. The scenario is significantly worse for individuals who have multiple disabilities with research indicating that individuals who have five or more impairments are 61% less likely to be in employment in comparison to non-disabled peers.

When in employment disabled people face even more prejudice, with lower paid jobs and difficulties in career progression, with few holding a senior managerial role.

Disability employment rates still low, including senior managerial roles

In the last election, the government made a pledge to diminish the barriers that disabled people face when searching for work, with a commitment to halving the disability employment gap to get a million more disabled individuals into work by 2020.

The report by Sense highlighted advice for the government in terms of employment policies to help the current issue.

The Head of Public Policy at Sense, Kate Finch has responded to the government’s support: “We’re pleased that the government has welcome our ‘Realising Aspirations for All’ report by making a commitment to work with us to ensure that all disabled people are able to fulfil their potential… Negative employer attitudes, inaccessible recruitment and ineffective work support programmes are part of a number of barriers that are preventing disabled people from securing employment…We look forward to working closely with the government on their important Green Paper and supporting them to ensure we level the playing field for disabled jobseekers and help them to realise their aspirations.”