CITY workers are to be specially trained in disability awareness as part of preparations for hosting a Unison conference.
Efforts by local tourism board, Visit Chester & Cheshire, to boost the standards of choice, quality and information for visitors with disabilities led to the decision by Unison, Britain’s biggest trade union, to choose Cheshire as the host for its annual Disabled Members’ Conference this year and again in 2010, generating an economic benefit of more than £400,000.
The conferences will be held at The Crowne Plaza, Chester, and will benefit accommodation providers, food and drink outlets, attractions, retailers and many other visitor economy businesses across the city.
As part of the conference build-up, hotel staff, retailers, council employees and individuals working in attractions, shops, bars, hotels and restaurants and transport services are being targeted with information and support in a bid to boost Chester-Cheshire’s reputation at home and abroad as one of the best places to visit for people with access needs.
The Visit Cheshire & Chester team has been working closely with colleagues at Chester City Council and Cheshire County Council to develop a range of initiatives, including a tailored visitor guide.
The guide includes a map that shows where wheelchair users can hire wheelchairs and access the Rows. It shows the location of bus and train stations and accessible public toilets, and explains how visitors can find additional help, advice and support.
Thanks to work with Blacon Link-Up Club, conference delegates and all future visitors to the city will be able to access detailed, on-line information from the city council websites on the accessibility of many of the city centre services and premises, including banks, shops, places to eat and drink and attractions.
In addition, a number of courses have been developed to help all those who come into contact with visitors with a disability to better understand their needs and challenges.
Groups being targeted include shop workers, taxi drivers, and those in the hospitality sector in Chester. Courses will be held at convenient locations in and around the city later this summer.
Visit Chester & Cheshire has developed a visitor information website - www.eventsforce.net/unsion2008 - which offers more access-related information.