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Access for all in city and countryside

Access for all in city and countryside

The last year produced challenges for many local charities and community groups but work continued for the benefit of local people. 

Like many groups, The Ripon Disability Forum are meeting on Zoom, with members busy registering as a charity as well as campaigning.  The successful campaign to relocate the city centre post office to fully accessible premises is how the Forum works best, working closely with others to lobby for change, and evidencing support through a public petition. Now members are taking the same approach with a campaign for a Changing Places toilet in the city centre.  

A suitable existing building needs to be identified, open for as many hours as possible. The Forum would like to hear from any business or organisation interested in hosting a Changing Places toilet. It would be a great way to kick start the full return to city centre shopping to announce a new facility for disabled people. You can get in touch by email

The Forum is also working to remove access barriers around the city and would like new members to join them who are able to attend monthly meetings (with online access kept too when face to face meetings restart). Members would like to hear from anyone with a disability, or who advocates for someone with a disability, interested in joining. Discussions are taking place with local councils about targeting key routes in and out of the city for wheelchair/mobility scooter users, parents with children in prams and buggies and all who would benefit from well-marked and consistent safe routes.

Another group which has kept busy behind the scenes is the Friends of Hell Wath, who have also started the process of becoming a charity. The group has secured funding for four log benches to create resting places at key locations in the nature reserve. These are inspired by the Ripon Disability Forum ‘Take A Seat ‘ campaign, offering resting seats in city centre businesses. As a partner in the Skell Valley Project, Friends will work on improved access for those with disabilities, action to reduce the spread of invasive species like Himalayan Balsam, information and signage relating to ecological and heritage features and repairs to the Fairy Steps, which will restore them to their WW1 state. 

Working with the Harrogate Borough Council Countryside Ranger, the Friends lobbied for funding to repair and reinforce the riverbank damaged by flooding. A grant from Ripon City Council will pay for equipment and storage needed for it. Winning a charity competition prize will result in an accessibility plan to create improved and natural access for anyone with a disability. This plan will also feed into the Skell Valley Project accessible route from Fountains Abbey.  

950 hedgerow trees donated by The Conservation Volunteers have been ‘heeled’ out behind the Ripon Panthers clubhouse and will be planted out in the autumn by volunteers, who will also be getting back to litter picking, promoting dog waste clearance, balsam bashing and making Hell Wath more accessible. If you are interested in finding out more please contact 

Both groups are represented on the Ripon Together Healthy Journeying Plan which connects to the Local Plan and the Skell Valley Project. All aspire to create clean, accessible routes to and around the city for all alternatives to the car. Their work shows that joined up working makes best use of resources available and ensures that more people see the benefits.