As we look at access to cultural capital – to nature, arts, heritage, sports and the broadest range of social and enrichment experiences – we know that many families stand on the periphery. While there are – reasonable and important - ongoing debates about whose culture is valued, the reality is that there are many families who do not get the same access to public or charitably funded resources as their peers.
The reasons for this are multiple and while some are complex and need further exploration the reality is that there are a number of simple steps that settings and providers could take that would enable a broader range of families to access their services.
The development of a ‘family friendly’ kitemark that would both mark settings out to families wanting a high value inclusive experience and act as a requirement for settings to access public or charitable funding.
For settings wanting to consider their practice – and to funders looking to invest in this area – the list is a starting point for what might constitute ‘family friendly’ for every family. It is based on some of the most commonly evidenced barriers to entry and in the main requires limited investments.
This is an opening discussion piece. We recognise that there are a range of family friendly awards and marks and these are welcome. This proposal is to redefine ‘family friendly’ in terms of access and how we increase the diversity of those who are using often public funded services.
Send us your examples of ‘family friendly’ and what else you might include in the checklist.
What might family friendly look like?
- Not for profit providers – for funders and families choosing not for profit providers means money is always reinvested in provision.
- Options for non- drivers/those without cars. With public transport routes, with prices, shared on websites and in literature. Ideally negotiating deals with public transport to combine entry prices with travel.
- Consider car parking charges carefully. Are they clearly marked on website and in promotional material? Do they have a significant impact on affordability? Are there exemptions e.g. for car sharing/full cars, for families with disabled children etc.?
- Are there clear pricing approaches for single parent families/families with more children?
- Are there carer rates – without complex rules and unnecessarily intrusive requests for evidence?
- Are all aspects of site included in entry costs? While recognising need for making more money and upselling, charging for extras all day makes it miserable if a family could just afford to get in.
- Are there options for bringing/cooking own food within decent and weather proof spaces?
- Can you avoid the gift shop to exit?
- Are there clearly signposted quiet spaces for those who sometimes need time out?
- Is it clear that breast feeding welcomed?
- If there are shops are there pocket money options – where pocket money means coins not paper (or cards)?
- Are all directions and descriptions in accessible English and/or Welsh – appropriate for anyone who struggles with reading. Think The Sun in language level (if not in content!)
- Are there all kinds of families in venue imagery and language?
- Are the rules on behaviour inclusive? And are they all necessary (when it is really important to keep off the grass and when doesn’t it matter?)
- Are behavioural expectations balanced with being explicit about the need for curiosity, fun and adventure? Do signs tell families it is okay to make noise, run around and play?
- Are toilets plentiful and clearly marked and is there Changing Places toilet
- Do baby changing and feeding spaces recognise that both men and women be changing nappies?
Shifting the power
This proposal is part of wider thinking on shifting the power in the question of access. User controlled funding can help shape service design and this shift in power – from provider to beneficiary - is one that we need to consider more carefully as we look to support inclusion in charitable and public services.