Changing Places welcomed by disability sport fans
A Swansea beach has become even more welcoming to visitors with severely limited mobility.
Caswell Bay now benefits from new facilities to give more people access to its natural attractions.
Its new Changing Places facility is the first of its kind on Gower. It is specifically designed for people with profound physical or learning disabilities as well as other disabilities that severely limit mobility.
The innovation – from Swansea Council with support from the Welsh Government Tourism Amenity Investment Scheme (TAIS) - builds on other recent good news as Caswell, Langland and Port Eynon beaches were all recently awarded Blue Flag status for 2019.
The Blue Flag Award is a world-renowned eco-label trusted by millions around the globe. This year is even more special as 2019 also marks half a century since Swansea was granted city status.
Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “We are making Caswell Bay a more accessible destination.
“The Changing Places improvement to Caswell Bay is very welcome indeed, especially to those with a disability.
“The self-contained modular Changing Places unit - in the car park across the beach - is fitted with ceiling hoist, shower, changing bed and toilet to enable changing and washing in a clean and safe environment.
“Two Mobi-chair floating wheelchairs are available to allow disabled visitors access the water. They are free of charge and must be pre-booked with the council.”
These improvements are partly financed by the Welsh Government Rural Communities Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. This is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and Welsh Government. The total project cost was £85,000, including £68,000 from the Welsh Government.
Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, the Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “An estimated 250,000 disabled visitors are severely restricted in their choices of destinations and activities across the UK. The Caswell Bay project will change the lives of thousands of visitors with severe disabilities and their carers, and attract many more to the area. It will improve Gower's reputation as an accessible destination and reach out to a new audience.”
The council is working with Caswell-based community interest company Surfability UK and other local tourism businesses such as the Bramwood Accessible Holiday Home to deliver this project.
Ben Clifford, founder of Surfability UK, said: “This summer Surfability has provided surfing lessons for more than 40 wheelchair users as well as others who need lots of assistance with changing. Access to outdoor spaces should be for everyone and this facility is an important step towards making the beach inclusive.”
Port Talbot-based Leanne Lewis, mother of regular Surfability UK customer Kai Lewis who is 17 and has cerebral palsy, said: “Kai is really pleased that Caswell now has a Changing Places facility. It will make visiting the beach much easier and more fun.”
Cllr Francis-Davies said: “The council has a long-standing commitment to introducing Changing Places facilities and this joint effort is a great example of partnership working across public and private sectors to add a major new asset to the community. It’s already one of our most accessible beaches - great for families and surfing.
“Gower’s beaches are vitally important to our visitor economy; they’re one of the main reasons why people come here.
“Annual investment helps ensure locals and visitors can enjoy clean, safe and beautiful beaches all year-round and we are delighted to continue flying these Blue Flags.”