Making Worthing’s pool more accessible

Splashpoint Leisure Centre, Worthing
Splashpoint Leisure Centre, Worthing

PAULINE FOX, chief executive officer for Worthing, Littlehampton and district Scope, talks about her involvement with Worthing’s new Splashpoint Leisure Centre, and her role within the organisation.

How did you come to work for Scope and what do you most enjoy about your work?

Worthing has been my home town for 25 years. Therefore, the opportunity to work locally was an attractive option 11 years ago, when Worthing Scope was recruiting for a manager. At the time of my appointment Worthing Scope was a relatively small charity.

As the charity grew, with the addition of new services, so did my role. Now, as chief executive, I am proud to head an organisation that is significant within the town’s voluntary sector.

How did you come to be involved with Splashpoint?

Worthing Scope provides housing and operates two day centres for disabled adults, a family club and a social club.

Within these services, there are many people, including children, who either have extreme difficulty with or are unable to access swimming pools due to lack of appropriate facilities. On announcement of the proposal for a new leisure centre in Worthing, I was immediately interested in knowing the level of specification for the disabled access and facilities. On meeting with Splashpoint general manager Duncan Anderson, it appeared that there were financial constraints that prevented facilities being as good as I would have hoped for.

Fortunately, Duncan was open to meeting regularly and we worked together to enhance the access and facilities.

A donation from Worthing Scope was given to support the provision of specific equipment required in the ‘disabled changing’ room, ensuring that people who were previously unable to use local swimming centres finally had access to a pool.

What benefits will Splashpoint bring to those people in the community with disabilities such as cerebal palsy?

The most significant improvement to the earlier proposed plans was the inclusion of the ‘Changing Places’ changing area.

This provides a spacious changing room that offers wheelchair users and their carers, or groups of disabled people, enough space to change and shower.

The room also benefits from an overhead hoist system and a changing bed.

Splashpoint has ease of access throughout with plenty of space for wheelchairs and people with mobility difficulties.

The set of graduated steps used to access the main pool are a great help to members of Worthing Scope who have cerebral palsy and require additional support to get into the water but prefer not to use the poolside hoist.

It would be impossible to meet the needs of every disabled person, but my staff report to me that they are enjoying using Splashpoint and that the people they support are finding their swimming sessions are much improved.