It is a time of celebration for Accessible Belper! After over 6 years of raising awareness of barriers for people with disabling conditions, our mission has been adopted across the town of Belper and beyond. Our work has been dependant on partnerships. By providing disability awareness training and Dementia Friendship sessions in numerous organisations we have been able to ensure that our messages have become widespread. Consequently, it is time to wind up our organisation and hand the mantle on.
Our partnerships have included working with the following to name a few: local schools; scout groups; CVS; Derbyshire Foundation; local MP; Rotary Club; churches; Love Belper shops and many others. This has been integral. We have also ensured that the profile of Accessible Belper has been maintained at numerous Belper Events including Belper Goes Green where we have provided Changing Rooms facilities.
As well as activities with the community we have run a Facebook page, a website and twitter feed. The website is particularly important for the disabled community hoping to visit the town (all spontaneity is taken away from this group and they have to plan all trips).
These partnerships have been a gift during these last couple of years. We were contacted by one of our partners, some members of Belper Town Council, to assist with developing an Accessibility Strategy and Action Plan which have now been adopted by full Town Council!
Our work has been recognised through our County and beyond. It is also multi award winning! These include Most Accessible Town in Derbyshire 2016; Heroes of Derbyshire finalist 2016; Derby and Derbyshire Women’s Awards 2018; Put Her Forward Heritage Open Days 2018; British Citizen Award 2019; British Empire Medal 2019.
None of this could have been achieved without an army of active volunteers. I would like to pay tribute to some of them here
(and can only apologise for anyone missed)
So, it is time for a celebration and a very big THANK YOU !
I hope this finds life treating you well?
I have to cancel our meeting on the 21st of this month, unfortunately.
Even sadder than that, now that we have achieved so many of our aims, it is time for Accessible Belper to pass the Accessible action mantle on to others. Consequently, although we can be a resource for others to use, we will not be as proactive in the Belper community.
It is great that we have managed to raise so much awareness of disabling conditions throughout our town. I have also been privileged enough to work with some wonderful people along the way and made some brilliant friends (I have managed to lose some too. For this I can only apologise. I have wanted to get so much done!)
I will be writing a longer report soon which will give a much better report of all our achievements. I really feel like we should have a big celebratory party! Right now, all I can say is a big
I hope this finds you well and now able to take advantage of being with people and getting out more? I understand there is still a great deal of nervousness out there but I am planning optimistically and have arranged an Accessible Belper meeting at Strutts for the 21st October!
Whoopee! We finally get to see each other and decide how we would like Accessible Belper to develop in our new future. Can’t wait to see you.
The room normally holds up to 60 people. However, I would like to limit it to 30 on this occasion to ensure social distancing (30? I told you I was an optimist!) Masks will be optional as long as the regulations stay the same.
In fact, everything depends on the advice by that time, so please keep an eye on the website and Facebook.
Accessible Belper meeting Thursday 21st October 6.30pm to 8 pm
Strutts Community Centre room 10
A global campaign described as a "game-changer" has been launched to improve the lives of more than one billion disabled people by 2030. Read the Game-changer plan.
Are we Worth Less?
How much is a human life worth? I thought I would give you all something to ponder with this philosophical question in a world that has given us pause for thought.
Can we put a monetary value on it? Should we?
New parents are warned to prepare for an investment that will entail costs that include nappies to shoes, tablets to proms, university fees to wedding venues.
Heroes are created when saving a life. Is there any greater accomplishment? From firefighters to traffic wardens, medical researchers to food bank volunteers, there are opportunities for us all to be heroes.
What on earth led me to such deep reflection? A taxi journey!
I was recently lucky enough to have a trip to London. One of the last things I did before going was to talk to Amber Valley Borough Council about the arrangements for disability accessible taxis. In my opinion, these are a vital service to decrease a growing isolation for people with disabling conditions in our community. There aren’t enough and drivers as well as passengers need to feel comfortable and safe.
So, let’s get back to my own taxi experience in London. No problem booking a wheelchair accessible taxi (which was a novelty!) No problem getting in and the driver was really helpful. Friendly enough for me to have the courage to ask why I wasn’t being strapped in? He answered that although he had needed to have disability awareness training to be licensed, Transport for London didn’t provide the straps with the vehicle for fixing the wheelchair and the wheelchair user safely and legally. However, I know it is illegal in this country to travel in a vehicle without a safety belt (or is that just if you are fully able bodied?)
This is why Accessible Belper is built upon a foundation of Awareness leads to Understanding which will lead to Action. I’m a private person but by raising Awareness, I hope people will Understand how I felt that day. Obviously, I am seen as Worth Less. Less than the driver and my husband, who were both safely strapped in and not breaking any laws, because they are worthwhile.
I have spent 20 years trying to overcome feelings of inadequacy as I have been stared at. I thought I had done it but now I am back where I began. Does society see me and the disabled community as Worth Less? I would ask again – How much is a human life worth? I hate the economic reasoning discussed here at the beginning. It’s a very First World argument. However, we have to ask, in reality, do we live in an ethical, equitable society?
This feels more like a diary entry as I have opened my heart. I am really hoping that my openness will raise Awareness and your Understanding will lead to Action.
Liberty is earned and can only be enjoyed if it is shared and respected by all.
Our freedoms from the Covid restrictions have been a long hard journey of battles won along with some very tragic losses.
We now have the power to use our new found freedoms responsibly and a new compassionate understanding.
There are so many people living with incredible anxiety in our new world. Please use our liberty wisely.
You can smile with your eyes. Protect yourself and others by wearing a mask indoors .
Keep hugging, kisses and full frontal snogging to a minimum !
Take care M'dears.
I know we try to stay apolitical on this. However , please take a look at yesterday's BBC report that picks up on the research by the disability charity Scope. This demonstrates how adversely affected by the pandemic disabled people were.
Did you know that disabled people were terrified of going into hospital because so many unauthorised DNRs were used on disabled people?
Many, like others feel forgotten on incredibly long waiting lists.
I know that recent events have impacted upon us all but for a disabled community who already struggled with isolation and segregation this has exacerbated mental and physical health catastrophically.
Scope has sent their research with recommendations for rebuilding to the government.
You will see the response on their website.
Another opportunity to share our views on accessible transport locally. Please complete it. We can't afford to become even more isolated.
Click here to take the survey.
OK, I admit I missed this one. As I said there are times when you are in the mood for role models and other times that they just make you feel inadequate. However, the sun is out , so am I and I don't want you to miss this. Able magazine is great to follow and just take a look at this. Able Magazine.
Brilliant opportunity to have your say about about the real situation with accessible taxis locally. Amber Valley is particularly interested to hear from wheelchair users. Click here for more information.
I have said that I will be responsible for Aim no. 5 on the Council Accessibility Strategy.
This states “To celebrate the contribution made to society by people with disabling conditions.”.
So there I was, researching positive role models with disabling conditions. There were so many! You just have to do a google search and you are swamped with examples. I thought “This is going to be a breeze.” I found people from the sports world, entertainment, business, politics, community change makers and many more. Lots of people I didn’t know about. How did they pass me by?
Then I remembered! There are definitely days when everyone else seems to be managing and achieving so much more than me. It is on those days that I can feel so inadequate and all I want to do is burrow down deeper into the hole I am in. So as part of my disabled journey, while I had every admiration for all these people, I switched off from constantly feeling not good enough and avoided their stories.
Now I have discovered that it is OK not to be OK! There are days when I definitely feel strong enough follow a dream and change the world. These are the days when I need those inspiring stories. The ones that make me feel like anything is possible.
So I will post these tales of triumph and celebration. That way on the bad days you can feel free to leave them to one side and on the good days they will make you sad, make you smile and most importantly recognise that we are all worthwhile.
Chair of Accessible Belper
We are now allowed out and it won’t be long before we can see those who are precious to us in real life !
In all its springtime glory, nature will be enticing us to take full advantage of her spectacular journey through to summer. However, don’t forget that many of our community will have been shielding for a year and while the outdoors is very inviting they are nervous about entering our beautiful and lively town again.
How about checking if one of your neighbours fancies a walk? Or what about a picnic in the park?
Then when our lovely pubs and coffee shops open, some people may just need encouragement and company to take advantage of their delights.
Other AB messages are gentle reminders:
Not everyone is able to wear a mask. Please be understanding.
Those with hidden disabilities like Dementia or visual impairment may find it difficult to socially distance. Please be understanding.
You can smile with your eyes. Make someone’s day. Masks don’t matter.
Look after each other and stay well.
He's back! Our own ray of sunshine at the end of this long dark tunnel. We'll Meet Again!
I will certainly be wheelchair waltzing !
Enjoy this early Easter concert.
Join local performer Johnny Victory for this afternoon of fun and music. Johnny has been performing for Accessible Belper and many of the other agencies, Alzheimer’s Society, Bloomin’ Dementia, Age concern, Age Uk... for many years. His shows are engaging and fun.
I have been asked to provide a video for the Derby International Women's Day celebrations. There is loads going on and you can access it on
It's not until Saturday 6th March but you can see the Accessible Belper contribution here.
Never forget Ruth Bader-Ginsberg's words
Don't be afraid to fight for the things you believe in BUT do it in a way that will lead others to follow you.
The aim of the website is to encourage everyone in Belper, regardless of whether they can read a map or not, to explore the beautiful outdoors nearby without the fear of getting stuck or lost. The former of these is a particular concern for people with mobility issues as one kerb, gate, incline or change of surface can make a whole route inaccessible.
Whilst I don’t have the power to make inaccessible routes accessible, I’ve tried to address the uncertainty people may have by using sped-up videos of routes which pause for obstacles such as stiles and show changes to surface and gradient. This will hopefully allow people to make an informed choice about whether the route is suitable for them. There are also pauses at junctions to show which way to go and create an overall visual memory of the route before you go so people can remember which way to turn and hopefully not get lost.
As well as being embedded on the website the videos can be seen on the Youtube channel at with ‘Wyver Lane accessible path’ being the most refined so far.
If you have tried any of the routes, please contact us and let us know how you got on.
For all the friends of Accessible Belper we would like to thank you for the accessible changes to our town over the past five years.
These have not just been environmentally physical but there has also been the development of a wonderful understanding culture of disabling conditions.
With the optimistic hopes that we all have for the new year Accessible Belper would like to add yet another.
Please take part in continuing the kindness and understanding so evident in our community.
Don't forget one of our most important messages at this time is always consider hidden disabilities. These are numerous and not always clearly evident. Remember that those who are visually impaired; living with dementia or autism will want to be safe but may find it very difficult to socially distance. It's not deliberate.
Take a little time and be kind. Together we can keep each other safe.
The International Day of People with Disabilities is today!
Accessible Belper are proud to announce that Belper Town Council will use this day to launch their Accessibility Strategy to the press. So watch this space!
Disability inclusion is an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security. It is also central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind. The commitment to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in a common future.
The global crisis of COVID-19 is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing the extent of exclusion and highlighting that work on disability inclusion is imperative. People with disabilities—one billion people— are one of the most excluded groups in our society and are among the hardest hit in this crisis in terms of fatalities.
Even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities are less likely to access health care, education, employment and to participate in the community. An integrated approach is required to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind.
Disability inclusion will result in a COVID19 response and recovery that better serves everyone, more fully suppressing the virus, as well as building back better. It will provide for more agile systems capable of responding to complex situations, reaching the furthest behind first.
As Chair of Accessible Belper I am so proud to have known the change makers who continually challenged and eventually succeeded with the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995. These inspiring individuals empowered my disabled journey. Accessible Belper has so much to thank them for.
When I worked at Disability Derbyshire (DCIL) , I was lucky enough to work with Chris Holmes who had been arrested 28 times during these protests !
Once he was even arrested for chaining himself to railings. Quite an achievement as a quadriplegic wheelchair user ! Chris, you were my hero! RIP.
We don't have to chain ourselves to railings. We can build on his legacy by filling in the attached questionnaire. No excuses for boredom during lockdown. Just make Belper more accessible by completing the questionnaire !
At Accessible Belper we are really pleased to let you know that the Town has a new Marketing Manager. It will be great to be able to work closely with Dave and his family as they will be able to teach us a lot about Autism awareness.
A poem by Siobhan Fennell
It has been said that they are the mirrors of the soul
Magical secrets, surprise. Like Alice down the rabbit hole.
By covering half a face we have to look harder. Does the smile cause a wrinkle?
Crow’s feet never looked so beautiful, as they combine with a sparkle and twinkle.
In the past, we glanced and spotted someone, maybe,
Fleetingly we smiled, no time to talk, would you agree?
Always someone to see, somewhere to be, something else to do,
Now there is the time to explore and discover. To see something new.
Some eyes will still tell us to go away.
Others are desperate for us to stay.
Two eyes can say that you’re not wanted. I need to be alone.
We can respect that and still find those begging for an understanding home.
You can use your eyes to plea for understanding and compassion
You can use your eyes to let people know that you are living in isolation.
Yes, you may only see one person a day
But, they can break your heart and leave the pieces in disarray.
Why not use your eyes to send a message of love? To tell a person how much they are appreciated?
Instead of hurting someone. Use your eyes to make them feel celebrated.
In a world where we can’t touch, cuddle or hug, you can use your gaze
To ensure a person feels loved on that day and always.
Welcome back to our kind and compassionate new world. Although we have all lived through a fascinating time we have learned a new way of understanding each other.
At Accessible Belper we have used the time to strengthen our partnership with Belper Town Council developing an Accessibility Strategy. This was formally adopted by the whole Town Council in July. Fantastic news!
I have also filmed the Introduction to Disability Awareness and Dementia Friends and it is now available on our training page and the Town Council website. So you no longer have to wait to book in to our next open session. You can see me any time (I am just the gift that keeps giving!)
Just a note to say that in the current climate, much of what is on the website will rapidly become irrelevant or outdated. Consequently, we will be concentrating on sharing community information on our Facebook page.
The website will come back in to full service when all this is over.
For now, please see our Facebook posts for how people are recognising the needs of everybody in their community and going above and beyond to help out.
Shops that have accepted the badges
Time and Again
Oh So Sweet
The Filling Station
Accessibility Lights up Belper !
The town of Belper is celebrating the Accessibility Awareness embraced by it’s community with the Chair of Accessible Belper lighting their Christmas lights with their Mayor this year. The Celebrations will take place on Friday the 29th of November in the Memorial Gardens at 5.45pm.
Siobhan Fennell began Accessible Belper just four years ago, leading a team to raise awareness of the needs of disabled people throughout families and community organisations. The Town has listened and taken action to ensure that everyone can enjoy businesses and services equally.
The lighting of the lights this year will be a wonderful way of highlighting the essential nature of a message that is being spread by a welcoming, friendly town.
What is a Belper Sunflower Badge?
13 Money Saving tips for disabled people
The Access Card
Wow! They approached us !
Belper Ramps It Up
Welcome to the latest update on the Accessible Belper Purple Pledge.