Arup Community Engagement

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Arup Community Engagement

Project overview

Project overview

  • Arup is helping to empower students at Elfrida Rathbone Camden and to instil confidence, communication skills and employability.
  • We are actively supporting the development of the Young People for Inclusion (YPFI) project towards becoming a self-sustaining social enterprise.

A team from Arup has helped a London-based charity by advising them on inclusive design and accessibility.

The Elfrida Rathbone Camden (ERC) centre works to achieve independence, empowerment and personal development for disabled people, children and young people, parents and families.  

Our collaboration with Elfrida Rathbone Camden (ERC) started in the summer of 2014 with the Arup team keen to work with a local charity to explore the common misconceptions and misunderstandings that surround inclusive design and accessibility.

The team were introduced to ERC’s Young People for Inclusion (YPFI) project, where young people deliver disability awareness training and offer assessments of local services, with the aim of helping organisations and businesses to improve provision for disabled people. We worked with the YPFI members to assess the charity’s premises, making suggestions on how to improve accessibility and inclusivity, and producing a report that can be used to request funding for improvement works.   In particular, the project meant we were able to equip the charity with skills (such as learning about architectural plans and Building Regulations) to set up a social enterprise, which in turn will provide a self-sustaining model for providing income to support other projects.

In addition, the team marked the International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD) internally via a very successful bake sale.  There was lots of help from Arup bakers, plus ERC’s own cooking class who provided some delicious produce plus two student helpers for the event.

£300 was raised to support the ERC projects and advocacy work.

This project has been positive for all parties involved:

Value for Elfrida Rathbone

The partnership provided an opportunity to share knowledge on best practice in accessible design, champion inclusive design and further develop the relationship between the two organisations. This work formed the basis for developing the YPFI work into a social enterprise, empowering the young people and creating a self-sustaining source of funding for the charity.

Value for YPFI members

As mentors to the members, the Arup team promoted the development of professional skills in relation to designing for inclusion. This addresses the charity’s drive for employability skills, including confidence building, social and communication skills. Members have collaborated with the Arup Accessible Environments team on the audit of the charity's premises, which could lead to more people aspiring to become active in the field of inclusive design.

Value for Arup

The Arup team have learnt a lot from the first-hand experiences of the YPFI members about the challenges of accessibility, which will help inform our advice for future projects. An additional positive outcome for this project is the success of @ArupAccessible on Twitter to document our collaboration and to showcase the work and skills of ERC to a wider audience. Our team now have a good social media presence and have widened our networks for inclusive design

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