Accessibility at The Summer House
Disclosure and communication
We hope it goes without saying that the Summer House respects everyone's right to disclose as little or as much as they feel comfortable with when it comes to disability, health, access requests and so on. If you choose to contact us, what or how much you disclose is of course at your discretion — we will not ask you to prove your status and we will keep your details known only to those people who are required to act on it. On our side we are sometimes required by venues not to disclose certain pieces of information; we aim to provide as much as we can in advance and on request.
You will notice in this document and elsewhere we encourage guests to contact us in advance or during the event with their access requirements: this information is kept private to our very small team. We intend that our team will be open and responsive to feedback & requests for assistance. However we recognise that it may not always be feasible or feel comfortable to get in touch. If you need anonymity or feel like the issue cannot be resolved by the Summer House team itself feel free to contact the fully independent Wellbeing Team — they are not connected organisationally to the Summer House team. After that if you're unhappy with the way the Summer House team has handled your enquiry, feel free to make an anonymous complaint to the independent body as described on step 9 here.
Please note, if the nature of the venue conflicts with any guest's disability to the degree you feel unable to access the event you should contact us for a full refund of anything you have paid, whether it is a £1 access ticket, a £1 access room or full price transport or meal. If any registered disabled guest attends the event and finds that they cannot participate fully we will refund all costs that they have paid to us.
About us and this document
This document has been written by non-disabled team members at the Summer House, drawing upon on advice and questions from community members who have a range of disabilities. Due to the changing nature of the venues and the limited opportunity we have to visit them, we have not employed a professional accessibility consultant. Our team is extremely small and we do not have an accessibility lead. Accordingly we're aware that there are gaps and always room to learn / improve. If you have any questions about any aspect of the event or how we can assist in fulfilling your particular needs, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will do our best to answer questions, update this document and do anything we can to facilitate your attendance and enjoyment of the event. We can provide you with photos / maps / measurements of the building and grounds if needed. We can respond to you via other means including phone calls if your preferred communication medium is not email.
We have added descriptive tags to images and will continue to do so as far as possible, though the majority of the meaning and context on the site is carried by text. If there's any section of the site that is not legible or understandable please contact us.
We offer a limited number of "access tickets", which start at £1 and go up in stages from £50 to £150 - these are offered to people with disabilities, chronic health conditions, people in financial hardship, people undergoing significant life changes, carers, single parents and members of other marginalised groups or folk who might not otherwise be able to attend. For more information please see our access tickets page.
We are happy to provide a free carer’s ticket to any disabled guest who wishes to bring along a carer. Contact us for details.
Briefing our team & security
If required we can brief our team & security in advance about any concerns and requirements, so that they can be handled in whatever way you prefer — whether they be related to disability, mobility, gender, chronic illness, age or any other factor. Our security team are mixed gender and have extensive experience in alternative / LGBTQ / queer spaces. Feel free to contact us about such details.
The majority of guests and all our crew camp, with some guests making use of "glamping" and some staying in rooms in the house. The rooms in the house are available to disabled guests on a donation basis of anything from £1. Guests can share these beds with their carers at no extra charge. There are very few rooms in the house and these are configured with multiple beds. Although we endeavour to support carers by providing indoor sleeping space, the priority will be given to disabled guests themselves and any extra beds will be allocated after. The rooms themselves are shared between those guests who apply for the £1 access rooms. Usually between two and four people share rooms. Some of these rooms are small dormitory style rooms and include bunk beds. The rooms are quiet and gender-neutral though if it is important to you to specify the gender of those people sharing your room, we will endeavour to support that.
Sadly we cannot offer any access guest a completely private room for the £1+ access price, though guests may purchase private rooms if they wish. We can provide you with photos of any room you end up in, plus details of the number of steps and a rough guide to the materials / qualities / build of the rooms. If you require to be closer to the ground floor we will try to prioritise that. Most rooms do not have en suite bathrooms and we do not supply toiletries or towels as standard. Generally we do not provide keys to rooms. If guests have particular privacy or anxiety concerns we can identify which bedrooms have a lock and key and let guests have access to a locking room in advance. In these cases we charge a deposit (usually £50) that goes towards loss of keys or locksmiths if rooms become accidentally locked.
The house itself has step free access from one side on the ground floor, with a wheelchair-accessible toilet and shower. The other side of the house is accessible via one step. The main entertainment areas, toilets and showers (including another wheelchair-accessible toilet) are all within a 50 metre distance. Some are indoors, others are in trailers.
You are of course welcome to sleep in your own camping accommodations or in our glamping bell tents., Disabled guests and carers will be given permission to camp closest to the main entrance of the house, which is about 14 metres from the toilets, showers and main entertainment spaces, and 35 metres from the house.
Both the camping areas and bedrooms are quiet spaces and this is monitored closely by volunteers and security staff through out the night. However it is worth noting that the bedrooms are near the acoustic cabaret room. . There are no B&Bs directly by the venue but if you so request we can provide you with a list of the closest accommodations. We have allocated the first batch of rooms but it is likely we will get cancellations. If you would like to put your name down please fill out the access form.
The house is around 5 miles / 25 mins drive from Barnstaple station in Devon. We will be providing a shuttle service from Barnstaple and we are investigating offering a coach from Exeter and from London. Parking at the house is extremely limited and priority will be given to any ne with a disability. Disabled guests are permitted to drive their belongings close to the house or camping before parking again. We can be flexible on arrival times for these guests however all guests are required to departure by 9am on Sunday morning. More details on the Getting There page. By car it's approximately 4 hours non-stop from Trafalgar Square.
Arriving on site
Feel free to contact us if you would like for us to make a note on our guestlist of anything our door team can do to assist you upon arrival. Please note that we request photo ID from all guests, but we can make a note in advance if this ID is likely to show a different name or gender from yours.
In terms of parking, camping and unloading your stuff, we are keen to offer assistance in whatever way works for you. If you have chronic pain / exhaustion or mobility issues, we can mark your name on the guest list in advance and help carry your belongings.
Guests with chronic pain / exhaustion / mobility issues can be given permission (in advance of arriving on site) to camp closer to the main house than most guests. Due to fire regulations we cannot permit you to park cars permanently next to your camp, but we're happy for guests with mobility issues to drive their vehicle up to their tent temporarily at any time to pick up or drop off belongings. We cannot organise this support "on the fly" and it has to be kept for the benefit of disabled guests, so please do request it in advance! This is primarily for Blue Badge holders or folks who get an enhanced mobility rate of PIP, but with enough notice we can carry the belongings of anyone with chronic health conditions.
The parking area is approximately 20m from the main entertainment area, which may be entered without a step from the back entrance. Parking is about 45m from the entrance to the house.
Imagine a garden environment rather than a rolling festival field. Once inside the furthest distance from end to end is around 120 metres. That being the longest distance and including a small incline. The main journeys that most guests take are shorter than that distance - we estimate around 50m to the middle of the campsite and 80m from the house to the lake, where we may place some items such as the sauna.
The camping area is a flat, mown rough long grass field. The rest of the outdoor parts of the site are long grass with wild flowers. There are paved areas between the house, toilet and the main entertainment area, plus a paved path around the house and a path down to the lake where the sauna may be. The mown grass is generally flat. There is a more wild area with a steeper incline and earth that may be harder to navigate or camp on.
We have a pack showing aerial shots and some exterior photos that should give you an indication — if you wish to see this file please contact us to request the link.
Stairs / steps
The majority of the house and entertainment spaces are on level access. There is a route into the main house with no steps, and a route into the main entertainment area with no steps. There are single steps into the house and entertainment area from certain angles. There are also small steps within certain areas of the house (though not enough to impede access to any main public area.), The only staircase in use are to the bedrooms, including some of the bedrooms offered as £1+ access rooms. We can provide measurements of steps and imagery of all routes to you - for reasons of discretion the venue has requested that we offer these privately so please contact us if you wish to see them
All of the activities and workshops take place in rooms on the ground floor of the house, in a large entertainment shed which is entirely heated with a carpeted floor and accessible without a step, or in our wood-fired "sensual dome" which is a yurt built on grass. There is one stone room which is unheated and has one small step (we can provide photos and measurements on request). There is a swimming pool accessible without a step on one side. It is heated and chlorinated and has windows that open. Our quiet Wellbeing Room is also on the ground floor, close to the wheelchair entrance of the house, with no steps. It is dry and contains a sofa that you may use at any time. We have a playroom in a tent (The Sensual Dome) which is outside. Aside from this all the spaces are inside.
Workshop, talk, REST & PLAY spaces
At the event we provide several ways for you to find out in advance about the content & facilities of each workshop and space. You're welcome to speak to our reception team at any time; we also give a printed guide; and there are some basic descriptions of spaces and accessibility implications in the online programme.
All the entertainment areas are in heated physical buildings with the exception of the sensual dome, which is a heated yurt, and the sauna, which is a tipi. There is one non-heated stone building for some workshops and discos, with one step.
We will ensure that there are at least a few chairs in each workshop and talk space (some have lots anyway) and we will ask We ask all facilitators to be aware of the wide range of abilities and experiences of our guests, including invisible disabilities.
We are happy to reserve a space at any workshop or talk for guests with disabilities, so that you do not have to queue or worry about being able to find space. Please alert our reception team during the weekend if there are particular workshops that you wish to attend.
Most workshop rooms are mostly laid out for standing or cushions. Some workshops involve movement — these are labelled in the programme and announced during the morning meeting.
If you find that a workshop facilitator is failing to take these guidelines into account, either make yourself known to them or get any member of crew or wellbeing team so that we can both sort out practical issues and communicate anonymously to ensure facilitators are fulfilling this requirement.
If any deaf guests attend and request a sign language interpreter we will provide this for any workshop they wish to attend. Please contact us with the workshops you hope to attend if this is of relevance to you.
There is one stage at the event, in the big entertainment room, and generally we only use this for the morning meeting and the party night cabaret. If you are performing or facilitating and need a ramp or other assistance for this stage please contact us. No other workshop & talk spaces have stages.
Toilets & showers
All toilets & showers are gender neutral.
We have a wheelchair accessible indoor toilet and shower in the house. There is an indoor wheelchair accessible toilet and a number of other toilets and showers in a stable block, plus trailers with more showers and toilets. There are rarely queues of more than five minutes.
The general use shower trailers in the camping area do have a step up — if you have a sense of particular depths or steepnesses that work for you we can check in with the supplier and tell you how our shower trailers compare
Guide dogs or other registered assistance dogs are permitted though not other types of animals.
HOSPITALS, PHARMACIES, TAXIS
The nearest hospital is North Devon District Hospital, Raleigh Park, Barnstaple EX31 4JB. It is open 24 hours. 01271 322577.
The nearest Pharmacies are
Tesco Pharmacy, Barnstaple Retail Park, Station Road, open until 22:30 0345 0269620
Lloyds Pharmacy, 9-13 Caen Street, Braunton, EX33 1SS open 8.30am, closes 6pm
Lloyds Pharmacy in Sainsburys Roundswell District Centre, Gratton Way, open 07:00 closes 23.00
The nearest Taxis are
BLine Taxis 1b Queens House, Queen Street, Barnstaple, EX32 8HJ 01271 322117
Triple A Taxis 01271 545004
Medication, power, refrigeration & food
Medication, power, refrigeration & food
Where specific medical conditions require it, we can provide access to power and refrigeration for medication & food. Generally we do not permit most guests to store or prepare their own cooked food using our facilities.
If your health requires specific exceptions please contact us so we can consider it.
All our food trucks offer gluten-free and vegan options though these may be prepared in spaces where meat and gluten is present, due to the small spaces of the trucks.
Our buffet dinner option is vegan (with some labelled non-gluten-free add-ons) prepared using fresh ingredients. Please let us know if you are gluten free, coeliac, dairy free as our chefs can certainly prepare dishes for common allergies. Alert us if you have complex or rare food allergies / diets or wish for the chefs to share their ingredient lists, as we can usually help with enough notice. The booking form has a space to add this info.
If needed our staff can carry food to your table.
Camping guests may of course bring & prepare their own food. .
Online / mobile communication, devices and printing.
Our code of conduct requires that guests do not use mobile phones openly / in shared spaces. There is very little mobile data connectivity anywhere on site — you will probably be limited to texts and phone calls — and our tests have shown the wi-fi does not work. You can leave messages for other guests at reception and on our chalkboards. We can providing charging facilities for people who use devices for assistance or health, though generally we do not take responsibility for guests' devices or for charging. Due to the need to respect individual privacy, our code of conduct does not allow guests to share specific information on the internet about what goes on at our events, so livestreaming or livetweeting is not permitted. However we are happy for general findings to be shared, if not personally identifiable. If it helps for you to have something printed or noted-down our production office has access to a printer (though not internet!).
Flowers, pollen, fragrance, chemical sensitivity
The entire indoor space is no-smoking. Given the outdoor setting it is likely you will encounter flowers, pollen and possibly petrol fumes. In some spaces you may encounter food & drink smells plus fragranced guests. Some of the candles used at night are fragranced, though we are increasingly trying to minimise this. Some workshop facilitators may use incense. If this causes you allergic reactions please contact us so we can communicate this to space-holders and minimise this activity.
The daytime workshops and talks generally held under natural light, perhaps with some shading if projections are used. No fluorescent lights are used. The evening parties are lit with a combination of candles and artificial (LED) coloured & white light. The outdoor spaces are floodlit (lights on trees, non-fluorescent) and LED festoon bulbs to light pathways around key areas. The disco and cabaret shows tend to use flashing disco lighting, though not strobes. If you are epileptic or require specific lighting conditions please contact us.
Noise / stimulation
Generally (compared to a festival, for example) The Summer House is not a noisy event. However the Thursday and Friday night parties include more by way of disco / dancing / music performance. At all times there will be at least one quiet, calm "non-engagement space" available for people who wish to get away from stimulation. This is indoors and heated. We also have a quiet / sober play area called the Sensual Dome which is a wood-fired yurt.
The camping area is a silent space after 9pm. It has been known for a small number of guests to disregard this, something we raise in daily meetings and ask our security team to listen out for. If guests are disturbing your sleep, please do not hesitate to get a member of the crew / Wellbeing Team / security (24 hours). All indoor bedrooms are quiet spaces after 9pm., although as noted above it may be relevant to know that some of the bedrooms are close to the acoustic cabaret room.
Alcohol & intoxication
We do not permit intoxication in any of our workshops & talks.
We have 1-2 bars that serve a range of soft drinks and alcohol, mostly during dinner and the evening parties (the majority of guests do not consume alcohol during the day). It is during these evening events that you are most likely to encounter alcohol use, but we still expect all guests to be respectful and well-behaved.
Our code of conduct requires that guests do not heavily intoxicated at any time, and this goes especially for play areas where consent is key.
Lots of our guests experience the event sober: we provide a quiet, sober playspace called the Sensual Dome, and a quiet, sober "non engagement" space.
If any guest appears to be intoxicated during a workshop or talk, or if the behaviour or intoxication of any guest is causing you concern, please inform the workshop facilitator, a crew member, a member of security or one of the Wellbeing Team, either during or after. This will enable us to deal with the individual guests as well as checking with the facilitator to ensure our guidelines are being met. Your report will be kept anonymous.
There will be about 300 people attending the event, but spread over many areas. If you have attended the Summer House before, please be aware this new venue is much larger inside, so we expect for there not to be the level of crowding in workshops and at parties that you may have encountered before. We are increasing the size of the marquee so that guests may be accommodated more comfortably. If you need to get away for peace and quiet we provide one dedicated "non-engagement" space and a quiet indoor Wellbeing Room.