“Huntingdonshire District Council takes pride in putting its customers first, but some customers need more thought, help and attention than others. Perhaps you have trouble getting about, or you might have a learning difficulty that makes it hard for you to access our facilities. If so, we would like to help”. (Councillor Robin Carter).
For many years, three of Huntingdonshire District Council’s sites have been regularly used by people for whom being out in public can be difficult. People with learning difficulties find it especially difficult to mix with the general public and they often feel unwelcome when they try. But at Hinchingbrooke Country Park, Paxton Pits Nature Reserve and the Huntingdonshire Community Plant and Tree Nursery (in Godmanchester), they have always been made welcome, not just as visitors but also as volunteers.
Our sites are frequently used by students from Huntingdonshire Regional College, Spring Common or Samuel Pepy’s Special schools. Some groups from further afield have adopted our sites because they are so welcoming and inclusive.
Steve Coates who works for Ampthill Lifelong Learning has been bringing his students from Bedfordshire for over four years. He persuaded the Countryside Rangers that it would be a good idea to bring this special group of customers together for a day to see, not only how the Council can help them, but also how they can help each other.
On Friday 9th October staff and students joined the Rangers for a very successful planning session which was hosted on behalf of HDC by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire at the Environmental Education Centre in Paxton Pits Nature Reserve.
Llynn Day from Spring Common School pointed out the importance of finding ways to give young people meaningful work experience. “It is getting increasingly difficult for us to find suitable placements for our students” she said as she showed us a dozen or so folders produced by her students who had been placed with HDC in the past.
Senior Ranger Jim Stevenson said “We now have a lot of action points to follow up on before we hold a bigger workshop in the spring”. “We are thinking about ways to make access and viewing easier and ways to improve our interpretation for all our customers including the partially sighted”.