Promoting Inclusive Events at St Andrews Botanic Garden
Reading Time 2 minutes and 30 seconds
Date 30 November 2023
Gill works with PAMIS Scotland within the Inclusive Culture & Leisure Programme and supports the development of the Multi-Sensory Story Programme. She is mum to Leo, who passed away in March 2022 aged 6½.
Before Leo passed away, the St Andrews Botanic Garden was our favourite place in the town to visit as a family. Leo was profoundly disabled, and we often struggled to find things in the area that he could fully engage with and enjoy, but within the Garden there were so many things for him to experience. He absolutely loved the Butterfly House - the change in climate, the tropical smells and all the butterflies landing on him. It was an absolute treat to come here. The tropical greenhouse, with the overhanging plants and the exotic plants especially with the funny textures, smells and giant leaves and the little waterfall, was a favourite space which could be enjoyed by us whatever the weather, which was wonderful. As you would imagine, the removal of the glasshouses was upsetting for us, as I’m sure it was for many. Although we understood the reasoning for this, we were concerned that the Botanics was becoming yet one more place with nothing to offer our child.
This year however, the Botanic Garden ran a series of Campfire Consultations, asking children with disabilities and their families what they need and what considerations are important to them.
PAMIS (Promoting A More Inclusive Society) is a small charity that works with children, young people and adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and complex healthcare needs.
Following the Campfire Consultations, Lesley Gray, the PAMIS Inclusive Leisure and Culture Programme Development Officer for Fife, and I met with the Garden team and chatted through some of the ways they could run accessible and multi-sensory experiences for the group we support.
The team welcomed feedback from PAMIS families and discussed ways to make both physical and sensory improvements throughout. Rebecca, Bekki and Calum were open to all the suggestions we made around inclusion and accessibility. Their enthusiasm and desire to get things right was apparent from the beginning and through working closely together we had a successful Harvest Day celebration, despite the challenging weather conditions. They cleared pathways making them wider, introduced ramps to ensure access to buildings was possible, planned and adapted activities to include everyone and warmly welcomed all the visitors, who enjoyed wheelchair pony rides with Obama and Simon from Pony Axe S and Multi-Sensory Storytelling as well as harvesting fruit, making delicious juice and crafting clay and pinecone animals. The PAMILOO mobile Changing Places Toilet was there to ensure that all visitors had access to toilet facilities that met their needs, without which most could not have attended.
We are looking forward to planning more events with the team and offering advice on larger projects, such as installing a Changing Places Toilet with the right space and equipment to enable people who need assistance to use the toilet safely, comfortably and with dignity.
Thank you to the Botanic Garden Team for your ongoing efforts to create an inclusive and accessible environment that can be used and enjoyed by everyone in the community, no matter what their age or physical capabilities. We are very excited to be a part of your development and look forward to seeing what the future holds for the Garden.
Our Campfire Consultation and other Growing Together inclusive events have been supported by the Better Breaks Short Breaks Fund - we're so grateful for this support! If you'd like more information on Growing Together events, including another celebration day in Spring 2024, please contact Bekki at firstname.lastname@example.org