Friendly Access focuses on improving access and supporting independent living for individuals with hidden disabilities, including learning difficulties and mental health conditions. Our social purpose is to support the development of more friendly and accessible services and communities for people who experience discrimination, isolation, fear and anxiety. We live in a society which does not fully understand how to support disabilities or conditions less apparent. We understand that we can not change a disability, we can however support changes in the immediate environment and enable people to take more control of and lead the life they choose.
You mentioned keeping money local and one of our projects we are in desperate need of funding is to expand on the autistic surfing school (the only one in Scotland). Through the success of this, featured in many publications, we feel we have a duty in reaching out to many more disadvantaged groups other than just those living with autism. The autism specific classes will continue, but we feel it would be extremely wrong for us, not to become fully inclusive and cater for all disabilities and/or conditions. For 2017, we are very excited to be shortly announcing 'surfABLE', under Friendly Access. Similar to our unique to Scotland autism surf school, we will be the only adaptive surf school in Scotland. We hold our classes locally at both Lossiemouth and Sandend. Involvement runs throughout the year, even the cold winter months!
For our volunteers, we continue our training programme in the sea focusing on lifesaving and coaching techniques and were able to continue some tuition by taking our students to Lossiemouth swimming pool where we can focus on board paddle and balance techniques whilst having loads of fun.
Our Surf School has grown at an incredible rate, with participants travelling from as far as Perth and Midlothian. To keep up with a growing demand and to ensure each participant is safe and comfortable, we rely on our fantastic volunteers. To stay within safety and insurance parameters, any volunteer who does not hold a surf rescue qualification, is included in our Instructors/participant ratio and therefore reduces the number of participants we can take in each lesson.
This year, we are looking to add specialised adaptive surf equipment and in addition to this, funding is gratefully received to provide training for our volunteers. A 3 day Surf Coach Lifesaving Course costs £250 per person and provides our volunteers with essential knowledge and skills.