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Access4All - the new, revamped strategic young peoples group

Access4All – The all new, re-vamped ‘Access4All’
As you will know in the past, we have run a young peoples group named ‘Access4All’, this group were hugely important in our drive towards living in an accessible city for all.

The next step for this group is to move into a more ‘strategic group’, where the young people with drive forward change within SEND services across the city.

This group will allow the young people to share their views on the provision, support, available opportunities and more, and with support from CYC, encourage change.

The current SEND improvement journey is strong supporting the new Access4All group and their journey towards improvement and change.

Group details:
-    Meet monthly, at varied locations including schools, West Offices at times that work for you and your young people
-    On a quarterly basis, young people with have the opportunity to meet with ‘decision makers’ – meet with the Head of SEND, Assistant Director, People, the Director of People, the commissioning manager and chief nurses from York Hospital.
-    Members will help to structure what we discuss, set the agenda and have the opportunity to chair the meetings if they wish
-    As a thank you for being a part of the group, in Summer and at Christmas, the group will be treated to a ‘day out’, such as to the cinemas, Jorvik DIG, York Maze, Chocolate Factory or somewhere else that the group decide and we can facilitate

So how do your young people join?
Each young person is asked to send in a complete version of the small expression of interest form that is attached. This can be done on their own, with support or by someone on their behalf with their permission.

And send back to me, Laura Brown at by the 28th September 2021.

When is the first group?
The first group will be held in October. And we look forward to hearing from you, and your children.

What does it mean to be a part of a strategic young peoples group?
Barnsley have kindly worked with their young people to develop a video about what it means to be in a SEND youth forum/strategic young peoples group. If you wanted to share this video with your young people to show them what it means for other young people, please email


How we are continuing to work with Access4All through the pandemic

June 2020: Access4All will be running virtual groups from June 2020 until we can safely return to our normal way of working. Our first virtual meeting will be held on the 18th June and we will be discussing communication. How we at CYC and CCG communicate changes to children and young people in York.

York Hospital

At the start of this year, some staff members from York hospital approached the Access4All group to gain feedback on their journeys/experiences at hospital in York during their lives. The group were open and honest with the staff members about how sometimes it can feel like nurses/doctors speak to their parents rather than them and that once you reach a certain age, you move to adult services without warning or a transitioning process. The members of staff from the hospital were grateful for their honesty and are encouraging young people in York to share their views and experiences.

With this new information from Access4All and hopefully other young people too, they are going to make some changes in their services to ensure children and young people in York have a better experience when having to visit hospital.

York Explore

The group inspected York Explore Library in Feb 2020. They loved how accessible it is, they loved the audio books and large text books. They did however find the toilets quite hard to find and difficult to access due to having to get a code from reception. The staff were fantastic and so patient - thank you for a lovely visit!

First Meeting of 2020

Access4All met for the first time in 2020 on the 29th Jan. The group was visited by Karen McNicholas and some lovely people from her team and the hospital. Karen wanted to gain feedback from our young people around hospitals, doctors and dentists and how young people with additional needs find these. The experience of waiting in a doctors or hospital can be daunting and Karen wanted to work with our young people to make changes to these services to make them less 'overwhelming, boring and scary' for young people with additional needs. In addition, we had a lovely visit from Chris Edwards who is working on the 50 things to do before you leave primary school and before you leave secondary school... the aim of this work is to encourage young people to get involved with the creative things York has to offer. We are ever so grateful that Karen and Chris wanted to hear our opinions - its great that our young peoples voices have been heard!

Laura Brown the leader of Access4All also ensured the groups voice was heard in the 12 Moves to an Inclusive City project. So Laura ran this session with the group and the outcomes were fantastic - these are out 12 Moves:

  1. Make hospitals less boring and ensure doctors talk to the child and not the parent.
  2. More disability sports lessons and events where disability coaches come together
  3. More safe/quiet spaces and the ability to work in this space – not just to calm down
  4. More signs, public toilets and quiet spaces in town
  5. More street lighting and even surfaces to help getting around town easier at night
  6. More education on social media and gaming communication
  7. More awareness of where you can go to ask for help
  8. More opportunities for student voice in the community
  9. More inclusive areas that are fully inclusive, not just accessible to individual needs
  10. More education about mental health to parents and professionals
  11. Different ways of communicating being educated around the while of York. A way for people to recognise when someone is too scared or overwhelmed to speak (Stick man communication cards).
  12. More awareness of the sunflower lanyard


Christmas Party!!

In December the group were kindly treated to an Ask Italian Pizza making experience. The young people have worked so hard this year working towards making York more inclusive for young people with additional needs. Next year we are going to welcome some new members to the group and continue our fabulous work.


Inspection 9 - Costa Coffee

On Thursday 28th November, Access4All did a surprise visit to Costa Coffee on Museum Street. Despite not knowing which day we were going to arrive and not being told that we were the inspectors, the staff were ever so friendly and helpful. It can be quite overwhelming trying to decide what you want once you get to the till but the ladies behind the counter were very understanding and friendly. There were a few things we as a group believe Costa Coffee could improve on, such as signage to the door around the corner with a ramp for wheelchair users, a menu that can be picked up when you enter the door with pictures so that the choice and decision isn't such an overwhelming task and finally our young people thought it would be nice to have pre designed spots for wheelchair users. The cafe is so busy and full of chairs that when a wheelchair user came in, they were very dependant on their friends/family to move chairs and find a spot for them.

We came back to West Offices and had chance to discuss what we thought York should be like in 2020 and even further into the future, we discussed and designed this poster to tell you what we think.

We also had chance to meet the lovely ladies from SENDIASS - what a great service that is.

Inspection 8 - Jorvik Centre

What a visit!! We were greeted from the beginning of our visit with such kindness and care.... the gentleman stood on the door told us to wait away from the door due to a noisy school as he was aware that following behind the school could be quite overwhelming - we were then brought out a sensory pack with traffic light stickers, fiddle toys and noise cancelling headphones. Whilst watching th school before, the tour begins with a very loud and enthusiastic speaker - not for us, the gentleman acknowledged that our young people could be overwhelmed by the loudness of his voice and he completely changed up his act - AMAZING! Please read our feedback as we cannot speak highly enough about Jorvik Centre!


Inspection 7 -Jorvik DIG

Jorvik DIG kindly reached out to Access4All after hearing about the work we have done. They were pleased to announce that they are starting an autism friendly session - so we went along to experience what it was like and help them to improve! The staff were ever so friendly and they were able to understand when our young people wanted or didn't want to be spoken to. The venue was still quite echoing and loud, and the gentleman was quite loud spoken, however they explained how our feedback has really helped and they were going to see if they could do anything about  the echoing and are not going to speak with softer voices at the autism friendly sessions. WE CANNOT WAIT TO HEAR WHAT PEOPLE THINK!!





Inspection 6 - York's Chocolate Story

York's Chocolate Story inspection was held on the 25th July. The venue was very flexible and kind when we arrived due to a miss-communication, we were not actually booked into a slot however, the kind manager was very helpful and got us booked in straight away. The gentleman Nick who ran our session was so knowledgeable and kind to the group. He recognised that there were young children and young people with additional needs in the group who may have found the situation overwhelming but lowered his voice to a calming volume and tone to ensure everyone in the group was happy. We cannot thank Nick enough for his time! The Chocolate Story also mentioned to me that they are planning to do sensory tours in the future - so watch this space!

Inspection 5 - Jorvik DIG

Jorvik DIG contacted Access4All to arrange a pilot session at their new 'autism friendly' sessions. We were delighted to be invited and to be recognised by venues in York. The venue has let us know that they will be changing a few things before their Autism Friendly Sessions but we cannot wait for such a fantastic venue to become more accessible for more.

Inspection 4 - Choose2Youth

Choose2Youth Club was inspected on the 21st May. This venue has been inspected previously and did not disappoint this time. Our young people felt comfortable and safe at Choose2Youth Club and one of our young people even signed up to attend the club which we think is fantastic! Follow this link to find out more about the Choose2Youth Club!

Inspection 3 - Energise

The Energise inspection was held on the 6th June. The inspection enlightened us into the hard work and lengths that Energise go to so that people with additional needs are cared for and can be involved in the activities at Energise, York. We were very impressed with how the centre runs sessions specifically for young people with additional needs - we attended the Sportsability session, the lady who ran the session was so accommodating and worked incredibly with our young people. We were also impressed with the automatic doors, braille, hoists into the pool and the lowered cafe desk.


Here is the Energise Time Table so you can see for yourself the different sessions that they run.

Inspection 2 - LUSH

On the 26th April some of our group headed to Lush in the centre of town. We completed the same inspections and were impressed by completely different things. Lush not only has an employee who can sign, but Lush is a Safe Place and offers that little extra help to those who need it when things get a little too much. Although their shop can be rather overwhelming with loud music and the strong smells, our young people were told of some lovely examples of staff going to the extreme to help shoppers who have additional needs.



Young People's Conference London

2 young people from York, one who is involved in the Youth Council and the other who is a part of Access4All had a great opportunity to go to London with Jess Haslam and Laura Brown to attend a Young People's Conference. The day was all about disabled children having all options open to them. We decided what participation was and talked about the United Nations Rights of the Child. We talked about:

  • Being listened to
  • Having opportunities in life and in your local community
  • Being part of a group

Accessing information on line is the best way to get good information. Councils need to have good on line information and easy access to e-media.

The Education, Health and Care plan shouldn’t be all about education only. It should be about other things. Young people need to say what they need day to day.


It was a great day, and the boys and I can not wait to share what we learned with our groups.

Inspection 1 - City Screen Cinema

Access4All headed to their first inspection on the 25th April. 3 of our young people went to City Screen Cinema in York and inspected the building and facilities. The young people were provided with such an amazing experience by Cath Sharp from the cinema. She had drinks, popcorn and our tickets waiting upon our arrival and gave us a VIP tour of the cinema building. We were so impressed by their Autism Friendly and Dementia Friendly screenings, their use of symbols to describe the films and how accessible the building was for wheelchair users.

What a fantastic way to start our inspections! Our feedback will be uploaded soon.


Choosing our Name

Following our first Young Peoples Group of 2019, we were very excited to hold another group on the 8th March. This time the group:

•    Chose a name
•    Chose venues to inspect
•    Developed questions to ask venues
•    Practised giving feedback to venues after the inspections.

Well done team! It was great work! This training will come in very handy when we are out in York next month beginning these inspections.

We had a ballot to choose the name for our group – It was a close vote, but in the end the name Access4All was the winner.

We also invited Steve Rouse from Choose2Youth Club to talk to the young people about his experience  in previous inspections from young people through the ‘Good Place to Come’ award. He told the group what it was like for him being inspected - he told us that it was nerve-racking but very rewarding when Choose2Youth Club was given an award for being accessible. The club implemented a couple of changes the young people had suggested, and these are still in place. Great to know the inspection made a difference!

In the next upcoming months, we will be inspecting over 10 different venues across the York area to see how accessible they are, so make sure you check back to see what we thought!


The First Young People’s Event of 2019


‘Judged by young people for young people’ - Quote from young person.


We are delighted to let you know that the first meeting of the new Young Advisor’s group was held on 8th February. This group will go out to youth clubs, libraries and other venues to provide feedback on how inclusive the group or venue is. The aim is to find out if it is a good place to come? They will also act as an advisory group to the Local Authority and health on how to improve services for disabled children.


We were joined on the day by Victoria Pearson from Fulford, Ruth Thompson from York Inspirational Kids, Emma from Milthorpe School and Jess Haslam from York City Council.

The young people had a great day of training on the role with the national charity KIDS which leads on participation.

You will hear more from this group in the future. Watch this spot!


The young people enjoyed participation activities and discussed the reasons for being part of a participation group and providing feedback to settings and venues.