Passport to Your Future - Year Two Take Over

Published : Fri 29th Jun Author : National Trust

There has to be a first post, so here it is…

The first year trainees on their collections management traineeship are coming to the end of their year, now they will all be prepared for work out in the big, wide world of conservation. We second year trainees, on the other hand, are still in the full swing of things! Looking at my year plan, I am winding up my sections on Marketing & Promotion, Health & Safety and Project Management. As I proceed into July I shall be looking at the story and significance section, so supporting several guided tours and then conducting them myself.

I have really enjoyed my recent weeks; last Friday I met Heather Smith, who is the Equality Specialist ORBP (Operational Risk Business Partner) for the Gloucestershire portfolio. The reason for our meeting was so I could get Heather to guide and assist me with my project which is to Assess and Improve the Accessibility of Gloucestershire outdoor places. We had a meeting to discuss Access Audits; first Heather told me about her job and responsibilities. She told me that in the past there had been a focus on producing a large document with a ’22-point-process’ for House and Gardens Places which could be left behind to provide help and assistance. Countryside Places, however, were largely left to their own devices with a self assessment tool completed by the Ranger. Now, however, Heather is trying to change the processes of the past and improve the accessibility of outdoor places. Hopefully this will also cause an increase in the number of visitors who could be considered disabled.

With this in mind she has started to produce access audits for some of the outdoor places, for example she showed me audits for Ebworth estate and Woodchester Park. The audit for Woodchester Park covers several principle topics, namely Pre-information, Arrival and Parking, Getting into the property, Interpretation, Playtrail, WCs and further points. Each of these topics lead on to points of discussion in terms of Barrier, Recommendation, Reason, Priority and Cost. This should give the Rangers ideas of what needs to be done to improve the Place (and why) and how quickly the actions need to be implemented.

I shall now be able to imitate Heather’s Access Audit and create Audits for some of the other Gloucestershire Outdoor places. Hopefully I can implement some of the ideas which Heather has had about Woodchester Park

My main goals for the project are:

  • Improve the information available before the visit – in printed media and online.
  • Create an site trail online, similar to Field Fare.
  • Improve the interpretation for all on site
  • Link each of the above points to several groups of people and ability

I was pleased when Heather gave me an example of the tactile map. It is comprised of sheets of vacuum formed plastic with a map printed behind. This is one way of interpreting the site for Blind or partially sighted people; it gives me more inspiration for alternative types of interpretation.

At the weekend I took a trip to Sissinghurst Castle, near Cranbrook in Kent, with my Grandmother and Auntie. Built before 1305, it housed guests such as Edward I. Expanded in the Tudor period, Elizabeth I spent three nights there in 1573. During the seven years’ war Sissinghurst was used as a prison. Latterly it was used as a workhouse by the Cranbrook workers union and then a home for farm labourers. It was rescued from a derelict state by Vita Sackville-West who restored the buildings and created the beautiful gardens in the style of Hidcote (another NT property, in Gloucestershire).

Blog images > yfyh2.jpg
A view looking down from the Elizabethan tower at the White garden at Sissinghurst. You may be able to spot Rose and even White Fox Gloces, or digitalis alba.

Republished by kind permission from the NT Passport To Your Future blog (