Our guest blogger, Krishna Francis, is back, with more insights from the perspective of a wheelchair-user. He took a spin down to Hebden Bridge Town Hall, to check out the Bradshaw wheelchair-accessible picnic table we recently donated. Here’s what he had to say:

It’s funny how a moment of clarity can create a spark that ignites a flame.

On a trip to the Town Hall in Hebden Bridge I was sitting in the courtyard watching the customers to-ing and fro-ing. I’d gone there with the dual purpose of meeting with the writer’s group I run weekly and taking a look at the newly installed wheelchair-accessible picnic table, donated by British Recycled Plastic. Whilst chatting to the one member of our group who had turned up (it was a slow week for writing), I noticed something: two women were taking a photograph whilst sat at the table looking out at the river.

Seizing the moment, I excused myself from my group of one and whizzed across to them. I asked if they could take a photograph of me using the new installation. What is noticeable about the table, aside from the array of colours, is how un-noticeable it is. Its primary quality isn’t immediately apparent. As I approached the photographer I pointed out what she hadn’t noticed. There is a gap designed specifically for a wheelchair user to get their feet under the table. It was delightful for the fact that the design didn’t seem to be shouting about the useful element. It’s another way that Hebden Bridge Town Hall is leading the way on such things as accessibility. Like the fact that the difference between the ground floor and the first floor in the lift is a matter of about 3 feet. The lift recognises the immensity of a 3 foot differential. Thanks lift for your quiet work.

Bradshaw wheelchair-accessible picnic table engineered from British Recycled Plastic

I left the building with my writing companion. He rode with me in the lift from the ground floor to the first. He was shocked at the brevity of our ride. Sometimes it’s good to observe those reactions and remind myself that the world is experienced differently by each of us. Sharing one’s experience in an interactive fashion makes the world a more accomplishable place. Adrian, my fellow voyager in lift travel has a whole other set of difficulties with his legs. I don’t have to take those into account as I categorically can’t use mine; his limited usage has its own challenges. Back out into the sun once more we split and went our separate ways until next week.

Hebden Bridge Town Hall is an excellent example of modern building practice. It is a beacon to visitors, shining a light on what is possible when it comes to accessibility. There has been every thought given to who may use the spaces and how to allow them to do so with the least fuss. It’s great that British Recycled Plastic has chosen to donate a wheelchair-accessible picnic table. So many people make use of the cafe and have the opportunity to see it in action. It reinforces the sense of possibility, what can be done rather than what ought to be done. Of the regular participants in my writing group three of them have difficulties with mobility. When we were unable to use our regular meeting place, the Town Hall became an obvious choice for this reason. Everyone was able to come along every week without having to make special arrangements.

The last year has taken so much joy out of our lives having to consider our every action with incredible care. As we learn how to interact again public gatherings are important. My writing group is moving back to its original home near the Co-Op but other groups are coming in to use the space. An example of this is the King’s Troupe, a band of amateur actors often with mental health issues or from diverse backgrounds who perform bitesize versions of Shakespeare’s plays. They will be putting on Henry the 6th sometime in August, fingers crossed. These sort of events bring people to share in what’s on offer and, needing somewhere to sit, find that picnic table and hopefully learn the benefits of accessibility“.

Ah, thanks, Krishna! We do love our hometown of Hebden Bridge. If you’re ever visiting, please do pay Hebden Bridge Town Hall a visit – check out the latest exhibition, grab yourself a coffee and see if you can nab a spot on one of our picnic tables.

Jason Elliott at a Bradshaw wheelchair-accessible picnic table engineered from British Recycled Plastic

The benefits of recycled plastic for outdoor furniture

  • Requires no treatment or maintenance whatsoever – hose or brush your furniture down a couple of times a year if you wish, but it will suffer no ill-effects if you don’t.
  • Lifetime guarantee – the worst thing about plastic waste (it lasts forever) is the best thing about recycled plastic. Not only that, but it’s infinitely recyclable, so if it ever reaches the end of its useful life, just return it to us for recycling.
  • Does not absorb moisture – so it will never rot, split or splinter and towels dry, instantly. Dry bums all round!
  • Impervious to the growth of mould and algae.
  • Resistant to UV-fading and to the application of graffiti, which jet-washes off easily.
  • Fixing kits available for both hard and soft ground.
  • Available in black, brown and with coloured slats on a black frame.

Take 5 – Mix & Match

Accessibility matters, but unless you’re a specialist facility, the chances are you don’t need all of your furniture to be accessible. That’s why we launched our Take 5 Mix & Match offer – choose any 5 picnic tables, benches or planters and claim the lowest-priced item absolutely free. It’s the most cost-effective way to ensure your outdoor area is accessible to everyone, whatever their age or physical ability. The Bradshaw is the obvious choice for wheelchair users, while the Batley is perfect for those who are ambulatory, but with limited mobility. For those who need a helping hand and a little extra security when moving between standing and sitting positions, choose a model with arms or a back – check out the Ilkley bench, or the Calder with backrests. If you want to make sure you’ve some kid-sized items in your bundle, we do a couple of Junior options, which are suitable for kids up to approximately 8 years of age – there’s the Holmfirth picnic table and the Otley Junior activity table.

Get in touch

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