AMI NW Regional Group: Disability Awareness workshop at the Lake District Calvert Trust

Ten AMI members recently met up for a disability awareness workshop at the Lake District Calvert Trust. The centre is based below Skiddaw, looking over Bassenthwaite Lake not far from Keswick. It was set up as a charity to specifically provide activities for people with disabilities. Their climbing wall was inspired by the local single-pitch venue of Head End Quarry near Sandale and was built by King Kong. Its main feature are three slabs that can be rolled out from vertical to close to 45 degrees, enabling them to be climbed by many people with a variety of needs. At the far end is an overhang that is also adjustable via a winch mechanism. Because the site is built on a slope it is accessible from all levels. So doors at the top of the wall can be opened to allow access to an abseil and trapeze swing.

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The workshop began with a quick round of introductions and it was good to see that most of the attendees had some experience of working with people with disabilities but were all looking to refresh their skills or find out about new ideas and adapted equipment. A main point of discussion was about how many of the skills required to work in the wall were beyond that of an SPA holder and how they were trained and assessed. This started with the fixed lines in place along the wall ready for an instructor to ascend with a Petzl ID to help a client as they climbed up and were then lowered down. We then looked at how to assist a climber using a Petzl gri gri, ascender and pulley on the bottom-rope set up. Moving on we set up the free hanging hoist from the centre of the ceiling using a Petzl pro-traxion and double pulley. The client can climb up this rope using an adapted ascender with a handlebar bolted to it and then descend with an adapted Petzl Stop that has an extended lever. This set up also allowed us to compare different harnesses such as the KITE and a paragliding style harness. Time was running on and we spent the final part of the session looking at a wheelchair abseiling set up and the Larkin Rescue frame that the Calvert Trust uses for a free hanging abseil at a local quarry. It was great to see local members getting together to share ideas and all felt it had been very useful.

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The workshop had been arranged by Nick Cannon Jones who after working full time at the Calvert Trust for three years and since gaining his MIC is now their technical advisor. Thanks to Sean Day the Centre Manager who gave his permission for us to use the wall and John Ford the activities manager for his help in arranging the evening. Also thanks to Rob Pugh the NW regional rep for his help in marketing the workshop and updating the cpd points.

If you have any questions or would like to attend a future workshop please contact Nick:

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