Disabled people's organisations and local disability groups are crucial to the work we do at AccessAble. Working with them helps us to ensure that our Access Guides contain all of the information that disabled people need to get out and about.
Who are these groups, and what do they do? Our new interview series shines a light on their vital work.
This month we speak to Community Catalysts, Rotherham.
Tell us a bit about your organisation
Community Catalysts is a Social Enterprise and Community Interest Company, working across the UK since 2009 to ensure that people who need care and support to live their lives can get help in ways, times and places that suit them - with a real choice of attractive local options.
We run and support projects which harness the talents and imaginations of local people to enable them to help their communities by setting up and growing social enterprises and similar organisations that provide social, caring and creative solutions to local challenges. So far, we have supported over 4,000 community enterprises and businesses.
We also help to spread the word about community enterprises through our Small Good Stuff network. We host the Local Area Coordination Network.
We work collaboratively with people, communities and system leaders. We recognise the importance of connecting with people at every level and bringing those different voices and knowledge together to help shape our work.
How many members do you have?
We currently have 30 members of staff working up and down the UK. We have a central team and community-based workers who all share a vision of driving positive change in social care. Our Small Good Stuff website has over 1000 members, and our Local Area Coordination Network includes over 100 Local Area Coordinators and their teams.
What is your mission?
Community Catalysts makes sure that people, wherever they live, have a real choice of great local social care, health services and other community resources. We see the world differently and celebrate the strength of people and community. We know how to help local people help other local people, and we bring our values, creativity, and passion to everything we do.
We work with integrity to achieve a lasting impact on our communities while keeping them at the heart of our aims. We partner with other organisations using our experiences to innovate and create bespoke solutions to difficult problems.
What are some of your group's successes?
Through all of our work, we promote enterprises to be as accessible as they can in every aspect of what they do, whether that is creating user-friendly information or easy read documents to considering if the venues they use are suitable.
Many of the enterprises we support are very innovative and creating new ways of supporting people. Promotion is at the core of what we do, supporting people in the ways that work for them, which relies on accessibility in all its forms.
One example of supporting accessibility is The Buzz – an online directory of over 150 accessible and inclusive video activities – which we set up in May 2020 in response to Covid-19 restrictions to allow community enterprises working alongside our projects in Birmingham and Rotherham to take their activities online. We then extended The Buzz to community enterprises from all our contract areas.
Community enterprises delivered all activities on The Buzz through a vibrant online community specifically for people with a learning disability, autism, carers, parents and professionals.
In all our projects, we work hard to get information about the enterprises we support out far and wide in the local community and often using local directories and also on a national level through our dedicated Small Good Stuff website
We regularly amplify the voices of those who draw on social care through our ‘Valuable and Vulnerable’ project, which not only shone a spotlight on those who were shielding through the pandemic but challenged some of the negative rhetoric around ‘vulnerability’.
How important would you say Detailed Access information is when planning a trip or visiting a venue for the first time?
Having detailed information about a venue is extremely important to many people. There are people across the UK that may need certain things in place to make a trip enjoyable or even possible, and so having resources with that information is crucial. Similarly, anxiety can occur by the uncertainty of going somewhere for the first time, and so having this information on hand can be a great help.
Not having detailed information will undoubtedly be a barrier to many people, which may prevent them from trying a particular venue or area.
How do AccessAble’s Access Guides help the disabled community in your area?
We shared AccessAble’s information, website and its benefits to all of the community enterprises we work with across Rotherham.
We also shared the information with all other Catalysts, allowing them to share it in their local areas and their networks across the UK.
In your view, what is the best thing about an AccessAble Access Guide?
All of it! There are lots of people everywhere that require certain things to be in place to have a successful trip or even make a trip possible. Having somewhere they can access this information is crucial.
Finally, how can people find out more about your organisation?
You can find out more about Community Catalyst Rotherham at:
Contact information page: https://www.communitycatalysts.co.uk/contact/