Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 10.42.32STOCKTON International Riverside Festival is now more accessible than ever thanks to the joint efforts of organisers and a resident-run advisory group for people with disabilities.

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council has been working closely with Stockton’s Disability Advisory Group (DAG) to ensure SIRF is open and accessible to all festival goers.

The DAG was set up in 2006 following the Council’s consultation on its Disability Equality Scheme.

The group provides its members with information about Council services, a forum to discuss ways to develop service delivery, and an opportunity to help shape Council policies and services.

SIRF15 organisers have been working with members to develop some exciting new elements at the festival to support people who may feel the event is unsuitable for them.

A new ‘buddy’ system has been introduced throughout SIRF that enables visitors who have disabilities to have an escort around key performance sites within the performances.  ‘Buddies’ will be able to guide visitors around and provide verbal or physical assistance when needed.

Easy access lanyards will also be available on request for visitors to gain entry to accessible viewing areas. The lanyards will be available from SIRF staff throughout the festival.

Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Access, Communities & Community Safety, said: “SIRF is one of our most popular events and we are committed to ensuring an accessible and enjoyable experience for all of our residents and visitors. The information the Disability Advisory Group has provided is vital to helping us improve our services and make a difference for people with disabilities and their families. We have taken their feedback on board and hope the additions of the buddy system and accessible viewing areas for those with disabilities reassure anyone wishing to come along this year.”

Individuals with a disability are also invited to the festival on Friday 31 July to experience a special performance by Orkestra Del Sol called ‘Larger than Life’.  The performance  will be full of fun, music and interaction and will be followed by a chance to have a coffee and informal chat about the festival with SIRF artistic director Jan Doherty.

To book a place or request large print copies of the SIRF programme, please contact the SIRF Visitor Experience Team on 07595 833 636.

For further information about SIRF visit www.sirf.co.uk

To find out more about DAG and details of membership opportunities, contact Stockton Council’s Senior Cohesion and Diversity Officer, Satnam Singh, on 01642 528830.

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