Not Just a Checkbox

Around one in every three people you know will be either be a disabled person or caring for someone who couldn’t manage without them, unpaid.

We consistently heard that using Bristol and Bath's parks is hard for these interconnected communities, so we commissioned research to better understand their experiences. The results are astounding.

Download the report

Download an Easy Read version of the report

A desire to use parks

Visual impairment

Everybody agreed using parks is good for their physical and mental health and wanted to use them more. But the majority said it simply isn’t possible.

This is because when meticulously planned visits fail, it results in disappointment, pain, anxiety and distress.

Multiple barriers

Closed toilets

The research revealed many recurring issues:

  • Getting to and moving around parks: Pavements with inadequate drop curbs. Gates to navigate. Slippery, uneven, muddy or narrow pathways. Steps rather than slopes. A lack of seating.
  • Park facilities: Play equipment not designed for the visually impaired, wheelchair users and which is not suitable for adults with learning difficulties. Lack of cafes, toilets and accessible toilets.
  • Safety and social factors: Poor hygiene practices of dog owners. Litter. Dogs running free. Criticism from other park users.
  • Mental load: Intensive and laborious planning. A severe lack of accurate information about park facilities, accessibility and their current state.

A call for action

Carer and elderly

Disabled people and unpaid carers felt they were not considered in park design or redevelopments, and that just the bare minimum was completed as a check box exercise.

The report identified a number of recommendations. It calls on organisations to work together to:

  • Provide accurate information to help plan visits
  • Commission user-led park accessibility audits and action plans
  • Improve the availability of of accessible toilets
  • Provide inclusive recreation opportunities

Above all, ongoing consultation and collaboration with people who have lived experience is essential to ensure the resulting actions meet society’s needs.

If you are a disabled person or carer, we want to hear about your experience using parks. Build our understanding of the issues by taking a quick survey now.

Take the survey

What we are doing?

Visual impairment dog

In response to this report, we commit to ensuring every Disabled person and carer in Bristol and Bath enjoys equal access to safe, inclusive and welcoming parks and their free, transformative health and wellbeing benefits through Parks 4 All.

Find out more

Read our report

Or request your copy of Not just a checkbox: Equitable access to parks for disabled people and unpaid carers at:

With thanks to our contributors and partners

  • The 19 disabled people and unpaid carer research participants
  • Emma Geen, Bristol Disability Equality Forum
  • Carina Andrews, Invisible Army
  • Anne-Marie Holland, Bath and North East Somerset Carers Centre
  • Susy Guillari, Carers Support Centre
  • Ruth Nortey, Black and Green Ambassador
  • Megan Belcher, Disability Equality Commissioner, Bristol City Council
  • The Quartet Community Foundation

Without whom this research would not have been possible.