Justin Tomlinson MP

Justin Tomlinson MP

MP For North Swindon

Becky Maddern's Accessible Play Park Campaign Highlighted By BBC

Swindon mum's campaign makes parks accessible for the disabled

By Nathan Heath & Kelly Morgan for BBC News

A woman's campaign has transformed her local parks into spaces that people who have disabilities can access.

Becky Maddern, 42, from Swindon, is the mother of eight-year-old Benjamin, who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and blindness.

She pushed for parks to be changed after she said they were "isolating" her son from playing.

Swindon Borough Council has now redesigned them to include high-back swings and wheelchair roundabouts.

"When Benjamin plays on parks, he laughs, squeals and giggles," Ms Maddern said.

She started holding talks with her local parish council around four years ago, after her son got stuck in a swing, and struggled to help him out.

"When he was small, we could assist, he could sit on my lap when we went down slides," she said.

"One day, we put him in the toddler swing and it was really hard to get him out and that was the defining moment for me to start campaigning.

"He deserves to play like every other child."

Through discussions with play manufacturers, Ms Maddern has founded Planning Inclusive Play Areas (PIPA Play) which has resulted in accessible and inclusive equipment being installed at eight parks in the local area.

Swindon Borough Council said it has changed it's design plan so that all future park builds in the district will be fully-accessible.

Justin Tomlinson Conservative MP for North Swindon, said: "I was blown away when I first met Becky, and I am very proud that Swindon is leading the way for accessibility."

Conservative councillor for the St Andrew's ward, in Swindon, Steve Heyes said: "Cost is not an issue because accessible equipment does not cost much more than ordinary equipment."

He said that a traditional park costs around £40,000 and an accessible park can be built under a similar budget.

"Next, we need the design code to change nationally, but we need stakeholders like housing developers, councillors and landscape architects to understand the importance of a truly accessible and inclusive park," Ms Maddern added.

"Parks are free spaces for children to go and let off steam, but also spaces for parents and carers to socialise with other families."

You can listen to the report below:

Posted in Articles, Featured on