Spotlight on: Accessible Holidays - Phab Adventures
This month, as part of our accessible holiday feature, some of our team went to visit Phab during their adventure weeks, in the Lake District and in the New Forest. Phab is a charity organisation which has been running for 66 years with the aim of building an inclusive world. They bring together disabled and non-disabled people of all ages with their network of Phab clubs and Phab adventures.
Phab manage a network of 135 Phab Clubs across England and Wales for disabled children, young people and adults with disabilities, providing regular social activities and friendship for 8,000 members. They organise regional and national events where Club members enjoy good company along with training workshops, fun activities and the opportunity to learn from and support each other. Phab club members from England and Wales are invited to attend in the residential projects, a week away at a resort designed to cater to all their needs, those of their families and provide accessible enjoyment.
Phab plan a fun-filled, action-packed week for the groups that attend their residential projects, which include climbing, abseiling, caving, tree-top trekking, zip wires, sailing, paddleboarding and canoeing. It’s clear their motto certainly is, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’ – no matter the disability or accessibility needs of the individual, if they want to take part in an activity, the Phab team and the centres’ instructors make sure they do everything they can to facilitate this safely.
Since 1957 Phab have been promoting understanding and inclusion of disabled and disadvantaged children and adults. The charity creates an environment where everyone can thrive and follow their dreams, inspiring and influencing ideas of tomorrow while uniquely shaping and building stronger communities.
During their stay, most of Phab guests will increase their practical and social skills, release the feeling of isolation and depression, grow their confidence, independence and self-belief, improve their mental health and sleep pattern, while enjoying wholesome freshly cooked meals three times a day.
All Phab projects are supported by external funding from marathon runners, legacies, substantial grants from national trusts and Foundations and generous donations. On average a 7 night residential experience with activities will cost Phab £1800 per person.
On the days that the team visited Bendrigg Lodge and Avon Tyrell, Phab had around 50 children at each centre, aged between 8 – 18. Some were away from home on their own and some had come with their families.
Children and families can be referred to Phab by OTs, schools, social workers and other professionals, or they can also refer themselves to have the opportunity for an adventure week or day.
As Phab are a charity, they are reliant on fundraising and the 50 – 90 volunteers they take on every year to be able to carry out their adventure weeks and other projects. Many of the volunteers the team met on the days they attended were people who volunteer year on year.
Olivia and Jess spent the day with Rebecca and her group of around 10 children. They were all in their teens, and each had come away on their own from all over the country.
The groups first activity was climbing at the centre’s fantastic climbing wall. The wall had different sections, ranging in difficulty from easy to hard. As soon as helmets and harnesses were secure, a few of the children set to work navigating the wall with the help of the climbing instructors and the volunteers.
A boy in the group had Cerebral Palsy and mostly used a wheelchair. He was helped into his harness by the instructors, and with nervous excitement was encouraged to have a go at climbing the wall with their help. It was fantastic to see how encouraging and supportive the instructors were with him, and all of the children. Later on, the same boy also had a go at abseiling from the very top of the wall!
To enable him to do this his harness was swapped into a more secure sling, so that the instructors had more control when helping to lower him. The centre had a range of specialised harnesses and slings to allow activities on the climbing wall, or on the zip wire, to be made accessible for a range of disabilities.
Sarai also had a brilliant day at Avon Tyrell, which is set amongst tall trees surrounded by the open space of the New Forest National Park. Cabins that are used as the accommodation are set in a horseshoe configuration, allowing plenty of space and privacy between each one.
Avon Tyrell has much of the same facilities and opportunities for activities as Bendrigg Lodge, but with the added addition of a boating lake. Sarai was able to see a group of children, who were fully reliant on their wheelchairs, enjoy the freedom of the zip wire. She also was shown around the boating lake and found a giant paddle board that a wheelchair can be tethered too. At Phab, it’s clear that there is a focus on ability, rather than disability.
In addition to the adventure weeks at the centres, Phab also have a fully accessible holiday home in Weymouth which is available to families.
They also organise adventure days, such as flying days in Manchester and Redhill, in which individuals can have the opportunity to take control of the plane and learn to fly!
Phab are so much more than a charity who organises fun days out and weeks away, they instil confidence and belief in each individual, so that they can achieve things they never have before. Many individuals who previously attended the adventure weeks as children, keep in touch with the staff at Phab and are now living independently and are attending colleges, or working. They accredit their independence and confidence from the support they received from Phab, and encouragement to always be themselves without fear.
“Being with a group of people who clearly have no limits on the possibilities of children with disabilities is very empowering.” Mother of Archie aged 12.
“I was responsible on my own and in charge of the canoe.” Tyrese aged 11.
“Liam has come back happy and content and is more sociable and independent.” Mother of Liam who is 21.
The Social Model of Disability, states that there is an unequal relationship within society, and the needs of people with impairments are often not given enough consideration. This can result in social exclusion. As a result of the barriers faced by disabled children and young people, they may also experience other disadvantages, these can include poverty, isolation, reduced access to leisure and friendship, illness, and restricted opportunities.
To launch a Phab Club or volunteer, please contact Phab’s national Development Managers
North- Rebecca Hargreaves - email@example.com
South- Janine Williams - firstname.lastname@example.org
Fundraising- Viviane Vayssieres - email@example.com
Enquiries about Phab Weymouth Holiday Home- firstname.lastname@example.org
This article has been sponsored by Phab. To find out more about this fantastic charity and all that they offer, please click here to visit their website. This is where you can also find out more about the adventure days, weeks, and where to find your local Phab club.
Please follow the below links to find out more about the organisations mentioned in the article.