Saturday, 13 July 2024
UK Charity Week 2024 - Sponsored by Sinclair Method UK
Saturday, 13 July 2024

How a local charity brings accessibility to the forefront with Join Together Festival

WITH around 700,000 people in the UK with autism, 1.5 million people with a learning disability, and one in four experiencing mental health problems each year, many potential festival-goers could be missing out because their physical and/or mental needs are not being met. Stockport’s family-friendly accessible festival, run by the Together Trust charity, is less than a month away. 

Here’s how the local charity has improved accessibility for those with additional needs, bringing together the local community on Saturday, 6 July in Cheadle.

Quiet Hour: Minimising noise and sensory overload

Music and crowds at mainstream festivals are often loud and overwhelming – particularly for festival-goers who are neurodivergent. Being in a noisy environment for an extended period can be stressful and tiring – limiting access to festivals for many people. That’s why, at Join Together Festival, the first hour of the event is Quiet Hour: ensuring visitors with additional needs can enjoy the full range of activities and stalls without the noise, strobing lights or distractions that come later in the day. Additionally, ear defenders are available to borrow free of charge at the entrance, and there are plenty of calming spaces, a sensory bus and a chill-out zone outfitted for those who need to ease out of a sensory overload away from the hustle, as well as easily accessible toilets.

Lil, Registered Manager at Ventnor Road, a residential service at the Together Trust charity said:

“It’s a fantastic socialising event. Our young people and staff attended last year and really enjoyed it. It’s such a beautiful day where everyone in the Together Trust and community can come together and have a really fun day.”

Activities for everyone

For animal enthusiasts, there are a bunch of furry friends looking forward to being stroked and brushed, including sheep, ponies and a variety of other therapy animals. Interacting with animals has been shown to help people with autism cope with anxiety, decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) lower blood pressure, as well as increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.

How a local charity brings accessibility to the forefront with Join Together Festival
Join Together Festival 2023.

Many of the festival’s activities, including archery, axe throwing, and bushcraft activities, are accessible for wheelchair users. Another opportunity which can’t be found at a commercial festival and a lot of the visitors enjoy exploring is the emergency services. Last year, the fire service team were more than happy to help people in wheelchairs explore the engine and take pictures with it, whilst others were delighted to meet real firefighters from Greater Manchester Fire Rescue Service.

Other activities during the one-day event include face painting, My Sen Den sensory room, TrainMaster (mini battery-operated trains that whizz around a track), a soap bubble show, tombolas, as well as food and drinks stalls, including Rocco’s Neapolitan Pizza, Nellie’s Kitchen, Cof Cof Coffee, ice cream, hot and cold beverages, cakes, candy floss, doughnuts and more.

Last but not least, the event offers a colourful mix of stalls with a range of products from local businesses, including handcrafted pottery, jewellery, resin gifts, crystals, pins, greeting cards, crochet items, wax melts, hand-sewn soft crafts, activewear, and many other items.

This year’s main sponsor is Vernon Building Society and is also supported by L’Oreal, Waitrose, Morrisons, and other small businesses, Join Together Festival welcomes families and friends from Stockport’s local community to enjoy a fun day out while supporting a not-for-profit organisation.

Grab your tickets for the Join Together Festival at: https://www.togethertrust.org.uk/join-together-festival-2024.

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