About: Best Practice


The Equality Act 2010

The South West Image Bank (SWiB) established by the Plymouth Barbican Association, (now the Plymouth Barbican Trust), in 2007 has recently moved from its cramped ground floor premises in Looe Street to a larger three storey early Victorian property, owned by the Trust, at 25 Parade in the centre of Plymouth’s historic Barbican.

Following a successful bid by the Trust, a contribution of Heritage Lottery Funding has significantly helped this relocation to become a reality.
The move will enable the Image Bank to meet increasing public demand, and will also provide greatly improved access to, and interpretation of, photographic and other records relating to the region’s physical, cultural and social heritage. 
A major part of the project has been the creation of a large communal research facility, a formal on-site gallery and visual interpretation area, and the establishment of a fixed-term outreach assistant to deliver an extensive programme of community learning and participation based activities, in collaboration with other heritage and educational establishments.

Access Objective.
SWiB’s general Statement of Access Policy, in relation to the archive, recites particularly that “access to records held by the Service is as unrestricted as possible, but must be consistent with their proper conservation and with security against misplacement and theft.”
The move to 25 Parade provides the opportunity to improve access for all, but the Trust wishes to ensure, particularly, that the level of service and access for disabled persons is as close as reasonably possible to the standard which will normally be offered to the public at large, and that the needs of staff with disabilities can be similarly accommodated.

The Premises.
25 Parade is an early 19C three storied building. It was at one time Locally Listed for its group value. It is no longer statutorily listed but it is a building of charm and character and the Trust has been sensitive to this in its conversion plans.

Getting to the premises.
As this is an historic area of the City all the carriageways are paved with granite setts which may present difficulties for some wheelchair users and those with walking problems. The footways are however smooth-paved with dropped kerbs at certain junction and other points.

The number 25 bus runs every 30 minutes from the city centre via the bus station to the Barbican. The nearest stop to the South West Image Bank is at the Mayflower Steps some 300 metres away. Some carriageways will have to be crossed to get from the stop to the premises. Many of the buses have low-floor easy access for wheelchair users, but it is advisable to check with the operator to be sure on 0845 077 2223.

The SWiB does not have any parking spaces, and parking can sometimes be a problem in the near vicinity. However, within 50m of the SWiB there are a limited number of on-street pay and display spaces, including two disabled spaces - (three hour limit).
There is a small public car park about 150m away in Exchange Street with one disabled space
For sat-nav users the SWiB post code is PL1 2JN.

There are numerous taxi ranks at Plymouth Rail Station and in the City Centre. There are also ranks and a taxi office close to the Image Bank. Many cabs are equipped to carry wheelchairs.

The Image Bank is located in a short cul-de-sac at the north end the Parade – dropping off and collecting is normally quite easy. There are two sections of dropped kerbs close by.

Entering the Building.
The principal public access to the ground floor reception/research area is by way of an existing inward opening door direct from the public footway. 

There is a low threshold, (30mm), which has been chamfered to ease wheelchair passage and to minimise the likelihood of tripping. It has also been treated to make it more visible to those with impaired vision.

Due to the alignment of the walls the main entrance door will not open fully through 90 degrees. As a result the effective clear opening width for a wheelchair approaching at a slight angle is 690mm.
The possibility of widening the door opening has been examined but this would entail significant and costly change to the existing shopfront which was designed and installed by the late Robert Lenkiewicz, the iconic artist who used this building as a gallery and library for several years.
Although the entry door does not meet the full requirement for wheelchair accessibility it is of adequate width to allow passage for most standard manual wheelchairs.

A clearly labelled call button has been provided at a low level beside the door, so If a wheelchair user or any other disabled person needs help this can be promptly provided by the staff working close by in the ground floor reception/gallery and search area.

Within the building.
The only area open to the public is on the ground floor. In preparing the building for its new function a large central chimney breast which divided the available floor space has been removed which has improved greatly the internal circulation for all, including wheelchair users and other persons with disabilities, by making this a single open-plan area.

There are non-slip floor coverings. 

There is level access through to a unisex disabled toilet.

There are appropriate navigational signs within the building. The colour, contrast, font and size of the signs are designed to reasonably cater for all visual needs and abilities.

The premises have also been assessed by a fire safety officer, and all the required fire safety notices have been provided within the publicly accessible and volunteer areas.

The Trust is committed to providing a good and safe environment for all groups wishing to access the archive at the South West Image Bank. All interactive technologies, displays and literature provided within the public areas have been carefully considered to ensure ease of use, and for maximum interpretation and understanding.

Pre-arrival contact.
If any users of the service feel they may have problems with access to SWiB they can ring ahead, on 01752 665445, to discuss any special requirements they have.

Provision for disabled staff.
Due to the age and nature of the building the two upper floors are only accessible by way of a narrow dog-legged staircase with winders at each mid-point between floors.

Only authorised SWiB staff and volunteers have access to these floors, with the main work area being located on the first floor.

In accordance with SWiB’s equal opportunity practices, provision is also made on the ground floor within the gallery and search area to enable any volunteer or staff member who may find the stairs a problem to still actively and effectively contribute towards the work of the project. The internal archive database is fully accessible from the ground floor allowing them to undertake ongoing vital cataloguing work. The Archive Manager or the Project Outreach Assistant will also normally be on-hand to support that work and any issues that might arise. Any other help or assistance can be summoned by way of the internal phone system as required, or, in case of emergency, by means of the fixed personal alarm button on the reception desk.

These provisions and arrangements will be reviewed periodically to consider their effectiveness. Any comments from users on the matter of access would therefore be welcome.

The Plymouth Barbican Trust.
South West Image Bank.
September 2011.



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