Can We All Join In?

By Mike Steel.

Festivals for some are an opportunity to relax and have fun. For others they are a way to discover new music, food and ideas, or to try something different. But at the heart of all festivals is the idea of people gathering and being together. So it might seem ‘obvious’ that festivals are inclusive,they’re for everyone right?

In the past I have arrived early, and left soon after relieved to escape. – Inclusion Southmead member

Festivals and big events can, for some of us, be difficult or overwhelming. But this doesn’t mean we can’t, or don’t want to, take part. Being aware that people Have different needs, including those needs you can’t ‘see’, is an essential part of making sure no one is excluded or left-out.

I find the festival a hard event to attend. It’s so busy with people, children and cars coming from everywhere making it hard for me to move around. – Inclusion Southmead member

But ‘awareness’ is not enough on its own – it’s about putting it intopractice. The great thing is that being more inclusive and welcoming for everyone will mean all have a better time.

Examples could be: asking about people’s access needs in advance; making sure there is a named person to contact for any enquiries; making sure events are truly wheelchair accessible’ by thinking about space and where things are – not just about ‘level’ access; designing posters, maps and information in large print, with easy to read language; having a quiet space, and places that anyone can take a break from noise, crowds, lights or smells; making sure people know when things start and finish, and what to expect.

Above all, our message to anyone organising a festival or event is if that you are not sure – ask. Make sure you involve local Disabled residents from the very beginning, it’s better for all of us.

Have a great Southmead Festival!

Inclusion Southmead, telephone:
0117 914 0528 or e-mail: ​

Thanks Mike. The Mead asked this year’s Southmead Festival organisers, the Southmead Development Trust, what steps have been taken to make it an inclusive event. 

Natalie Bailey told us:

The reason the Greenway Centre is the best place for the Festival is because we are constantly working on inclusive facilities and they are already very good.

We have double door entrance and exit points, and there are wheelchair accessible toilets.
During the Festival our Greenhouse Cafe is the space where visitors often take a break or rest from the main activities outside, and we have team of very visible volunteers at hand should anyone require advice or help. We have increased our number of parking bays for disabled badge holders for the event this year.

On a daily basis we deal with a huge number of visitors to Greenway and we are very experienced at accommodating everyone; the Festival is no different for us in this respect.

We really value feedback so please let us know your views and ideas. Please contact me – email or telephone 0117 950 3335.