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MSP Fergus Ewing, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism visits Homelands Accessible holiday Lodges

Thu 1 Oct 15

Homelands Trust Fife, a Lundin Links based charity, recently welcomed Mr Fergus Ewing, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism. The Minister visited Homelands to launch their new Access Guide. He was accompanied by Chris McCoy, Equality Diversity Manager and Head of Visit Scotland's Accessible Tourism Programme.

Homelands Trustees and staff provided a tour of the luxury, accessible holiday lodges, of which there are four. There is also on onsite therapy and activity centre, the Paxton Centre. The lodges at Homelands are well equipped and able to accommodate and support people affected by a wide range of disabilities, long-term health conditions, life limiting illnesses or older age. Some of their specialist support equipment, which is provided at no extra cost, includes ceiling tracking hoists, electric profiling beds, air flow mattresses, Clos-o-Mat toilets, shower trolley, vibrating under pillow fire alarm, shower/over toilet chairs, flashing doorbell and more. This equipment is vital, providing the necessary support, enabling access, promoting independence and ensuring an enjoyable holiday.

Research indicates that out of the 11 million disabled people in the UK, only 2 million take a holiday. The rest say it is "just too difficult", mainly because of a lack of truly accessible accommodation and basic facilities.

Homelands Access Guide, which is available on request or downloadable on their website www.homelands-fife.co.uk, is a means of changing the above statistics with the aim of providing an honest and informed appraisal of what the customer should expect. This can be anything from the car parking arrangements, door widths, the height of the dining room table or what additional support and equipment is available. Homelands Access Guide will reduce apprehension and help guests to have an inclusive, relaxing holiday.

A recent addition to the Homelands experience is the purchase of two new mobility scooters. Guests or visitors can make use of them to visit the local shops or enjoy a local scenic tour of a beautiful coastal area.

Chris McCoy, who heads up VisitScotland's Accessible Tourism Programme, said: "Homelands Trust is a great example of accessible tourism in action, especially as we approach the Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design in 2016. The self-catering cottages are fully equipped to provide both access and great quality for disabled and older guests. The Homelands Trust should be very proud of their achievements and we are looking forward to working with them in the future."

Homelands Chair, Simon Allan, said "The Access Guides will provide potential guests with all the information they need to make an informed decision about having a break at Homelands".

Further information about Homelands

Our 1st Birthday was last week. We have certainly made an impact and the feedback we have received had is humbling, sometimes emotional, but best of all, reassuring... letting us know that we are off to a great start. We have been fully book from May all the way through to the last week in October - we still have a good few calls each day. The demand demonstrates the lack of appropriate accommodation for people who access and support requirements.

Homelands are currently 2/3 through the 'Caring for Carers' programme which allows unpaid carers to take part in a variety of free activities and therapies. Over 100 carers have benefited from the programme so far with many carers receiving up to six free therapies as well as taking part in the exercise classes and mindfulness sessions. However there is still much more on offer, there is another six week block of exercise and mindfulness classes, weekly short health walks and there are still over seventy free alternative therapies such as Swedish massage, reflexology and aromatherapy.

In addition to the 'Caring for Carers' programme Homelands have also been adding a wide range of new activities and sessions to their weekly schedule such as counselling, inclusive health walks (people in power chairs/scooters can come too) therapeutic art classes, 'let's get on', an introduction to the internet, using emails, social media and online shopping – on an computer as well as an iPad. Furthermore Homelands also have movement therapy (MotoMed) for the use of guests or visitors, the MOTOmed is great for promoting movement with either passive, motor-assisted or active resistive training. The movement trainer is especially suitable for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility. We also have a friendly Social Café, we are looking to expand our services next year, to include a sensory room and accessible gardens.

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