Health, disability & well-being

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


Wymondham Access Group has been working with South Norfolk Council for a number of months to advise on ways in which the sport and leisure facilities that the Council offers are accessible to all people within of the local community. One of the major improvements that that Wymondham Access Group has recommended is the provision of a Pool Pod, which is a modern and effective method of allowing those with disabilities and mobility problems dignified access to swimming pools. Although the Council currently offers a hoist system to allow those with disabilities access to the pool, these are considered to be an antiquated and undignified method of getting people into a swimming pool, one which relies on the provision of additional staff to work, increasing the feeling of reliance on others that users of the hoist experience. The use of the hoist is also a visually very intrusive experience, with users being very conscious of the fact that they are needing additional support to access the pool. Users have told the access group that this stops many disabled people and those with other mobility issues from using the swimming pool, which means that t they are not accessing a low impact and supported way of exercising. For many people with disabilities, swimming is one of the best ways to exercise, but the existing access arrangements with the hoist are putting people off using the pool, with them missing out on the health and well-being benefits that regular exercise brings.

Pool Pod was developed in partnership between the 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority and the designers, who were tasked with developing a pool lift for the London 2012 Games. It was designed to allow dignified and independent access to swimming pools. It has since been installed in many pools throughout the UK and further afield and it has changed the way that disabled users use swimming pools. The Wymondham Access Group is convinced that the provision of a Pool Pod at Wymondham Leisure Centre will result in not just greater numbers of disabled people using the pool, but it will have the added benefit of encouraging greater number of other groups, such as older people who may struggle to enter and access the pool via traditional pool steps, and those recovering from surgery for example. It will also benefit other user groups, such as parents with young children, who would otherwise find it difficult to enter and exit a pool whilst holding children. There are currently no other pools within Norfolk that have a Pool Pod, the closest is in Stowmarket, Suffolk, which is 35 miles from Wymondham, or an hours drive across a large rural area. This is a huge barrier to participation

The project involves the purchase of the Pool Pod by the Wymondham Access Group which will then be located at Wymondham Leisure Centre for use by anybody that wishes to use it to get in and out of the swimming pool. It will remain the property of the Wymondham Access Group, who will continue to work closely with South Norfolk Council, to ensure that its availability and presence is widely known by local people, not just from Wymondham but further afield. The Wymondham Access Group is affiliated to Equal Lives, who are an umbrella group for disability groups who promote independent living. If successful, it is expected that the Wymondham Access Group will share their experience with the Pool Pod with other access groups also affiliated to Equal Lives in Norfolk, advocating their use at other facilities in the county, further improving the access for disabled people living in Norfolk.

The total project covers the purchase cost of the Pool Pod itself, along with a number of other items such as waterproof wheelchairs and wristbands that allow independent use, and annual servicing. The Wymondham Access Group will continue to fund-raise to cover future maintenance costs.

Project Video

Wymondham Access Group

Moment of Pride

Overcoming barriers to everyday life has had a significant impact on learning to live with my disability. Starting Wymondham Access Group has given me a purpose and zest for life again, being able to give something back to the community that has supporter me my whole life would make WAG very proud.

Location: Wymondham