Community song to put Fylde Coast in spotlight for inclusion

The Access Fylde project, which launched in April last year, has already helped many businesses throughout the Fylde Coast make their venues more accessible and increase revenue with free accessibility audits.

Many companies in the region also have a greater understanding and empathy of the issues faced by people with disabilities, thanks to the project’s free awareness training. The passionate and dedicated team have planned and held many incredible events including illuminating Blackpool Tower, Fleetwood Marine Hall and Lytham Windmill purple for Purple Tuesday; performing at Lytham Festival; holding a comedy night, welcoming the Paraorchestra and profoundly deaf virtuoso Evelyn Glennie performing. 

The purple pound, which is the spending power of disabled people and their families is worth £249 billion. It is increasing by an average of 14% per annum, yet it is estimated that less than 10% of businesses have a targeted plan of how to access the disability market and encourage them to spend money. The new song “Purple Pound” was an entertaining idea to help spread the message that small changes make big differences to improving accessibility. 

The song was written, produced and filmed by the charity and all companies featured in the video have received support from Access Fylde and made incredible changes. They are great examples of companies who help fly the flag for promoting what a positive and accessible place the Fylde Coast is to live and visit. Everyone featured in the video has a visible or non-visible disability; showing that it’s just as vital to understand and accommodate the needs of people with conditions such as Anxiety, Autism, Depression and Dementia too. 

Purple Pounds Bolster the Local Economy 

Over the past decade organisations and businesses have seen a big push on equality and diversity; bringing them many benefits including greater customer satisfaction and a stronger bottom line. However, many business owners still don’t understand how to make a venue, product or service more inclusive; creating an atmosphere where staff, visitors and customers feel valued, respected and have access to the same opportunities.

Accessibility is a key aspect in constructing an inclusive place; making people feel thought about, catered for and welcomed; that they belong and are part of something. Encouraging accessibility in businesses (both on and offline) is about considering how easy it is to reach and enter your premises, communicate with you, use your services or products, book tickets or purchase from you, find out relevant accessibility information, navigate your premises or business website and understand your services.

Promoting inclusion and enhancing accessibility not only gives visitors and guests more independence by needing to be less reliant on other people but it ensures their privacy and dignity. The increased customer satisfaction and improved customer service ensures a positive experience, repeat business, a positive review or recommendation and increases turnover. 

Accessibility Across the Fylde Coast is Vital 

Alan Reid, CIO of Disability First, the Blackpool charity which spearheaded the Access Fylde Coast project, comments: 

“We greatly want to live in a world that is designed to include everyone, regardless of whether they suffer with a disability or not. The Fylde Coast is flying the flag for inclusion with so many businesses taking our free accessibility audit, disability awareness training, attending our accessible events and putting our guidance into practise; helping to create a positive place for all!”

“This song and video captures what Access Fylde is all about; having fun! The companies we filmed at included Artisan Tiles, Staff at Blackpool Transport (provided by the amazing charity Project Search who help people with disabilities find permanent employment), Devon Hair & Beauty and Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool; Clarity Opticians, Health and Harmony Singing Group, Wyre Wheels at Fleetwood YMCA and Men’s Shed in Fleetwood have all taken on board our advice and are shining examples of how all companies should be! We also show the fabulous Fylde Coast Guide dogs meeting on Lytham Green and our signer was provided by Co Sign. Accessibility means that everyone has access to more enjoyment in life; doesn’t every person deserve that?” 

“We also wanted to spread a bit of love across the community; showing that we are all the same; people with disabilities are not to be feared and highlighting that all disabilities are not visible. The government’s fantastic Inclusive Transport Strategy and Access for All programme has made great changes to the Parking Blue Badge scheme and is also pushing for all public transport to become fully-accessible. Thankfully we have access to great accessible transport across the region but this is brilliant news nationwide!”

Accessible parking is already a lifeline for so many disabled people but now those with non-visible conditions such as Autism, Dementia, Parkinson’s, Arthritis, Anxiety, brain injuries and reduced mobility can apply for a Blue Badge. It will enable far more people to travel to work, socialise, access shops and services and greatly improve and enhance people’s lives. There’s so many positive changes being made but lots more still to do!”

Purple Pounds Boost Business 

Accessibility is invaluable to consider in Business and tourism; which is why Access Fylde Coast provide businesses with free accessibility audits, disability awareness training and a schedule of accessible events. People with disabilities are still able to purchase shares, apply for credit cards and mortgages. They are consumers and should have the same rights and opportunities as such. As our population ages and people live longer, more and more people will require products, services and venues to be accessible. 

Accessibility doesn’t just mean physical access but how something is designed to be used, reviewed, read or otherwise accessed by someone who is living with a disability or impairment of some kind. Designing and creating a company’s products and services to be used by as many people as possible; both those living with a disability and without, is good business sense. Ensuring you put small steps in place to be more inclusive, is not just the right thing to do but highly profitable too. It does not need to cost the earth; changes that make the biggest difference are free! It’s costs nothing to create a welcoming, warm and supportive environment for all. 

Being inclusive is much more than just the right thing to do; enhancing accessibility is a smart business decision overall giving you access to a larger client base. There are many benefits that come with enhancing accessibility that are way beyond legal compliancy. The impact on turnover can be significant but also you are playing a part in giving your customers independence, gaining respect as a socially responsible company and building strong relationships with your community. There are many solutions to enhancing accessibility but it is best looked at as an on-going process; working towards including more people as the fabulous businesses and services featured in the video all are. 

“Purple Pound” is available to hear, view and download here.

The Access Fylde Coast project is spearheaded by Blackpool charity Disability First and was made possible thanks to a cash injection of £985,522 from the Coastal Communities Fund, as part of a Government initiative to invest £250 million in our much-loved seaside resorts.

www.accessfyldecoast.co.uk