At Arvon we believe everyone should be able to fully participate within society. We want to facilitate people with disabilities to achieve greater independence, participation and social inclusion, and we aim to do this by increasing accessibility on our writing courses and retreats.
We would like to make our Writing Houses as accessible and inclusive as possible, though each house varies considerably in terms of access. We’re not perfect, and we’re always looking to make our buildings more accessible.
Below you can find information on what we’re doing to make our writing houses accessible. If you’re thinking about joining us for a course, please get in touch to discuss your needs, or any particular concerns you may have around accessibility. It is important to discuss these with centre staff before booking, to establish whether your needs can be met.
We have a grants scheme that can cover a portion of your course fees. Disability costs and additional living/support costs are taken into account when considering your grant application. We encourage applications from D/deaf and/or Disabled people. If you are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or Means tested state benefits, you can also get concession pricing on selected courses with late availability.
The Hurst Access
The Hurst has the most comprehensive facilities for people with access needs, with access to every room via a lift and all rooms equipped with ensuite bathrooms, five of which are wetrooms equipped for wheelchair access. All communal spaces, including workshop spaces, are accessible to people with mobility issues.
The main entrances is accessible from the car park. A ramp with a railing runs along the side of the house to the main front doors. The surface on the carpark and ramp is paved. Please let us know in advance if you have access needs, so we can do our best to accommodate you.
Totleigh Barton Access
Totleigh Barton has a wheelchair-accessible bedroom with en-suite wetroom. All communal spaces, including workshop spaces, are accessible to people with mobility issues. For detailed information on access around Totleigh Barton, please see our Visit England accessibility guide.
The main entrance to Totleigh Barton has level access. The main entrance is via the kitchen, which is actually the back of the house, in front of the gravel car park. There are many changes in level throughout the site. Some doors have level or ramped access, but most have a small step. Totleigh Barton has one internal staircase open to guests with a handrail. Accessible bedrooms are available at ground floor. Please let us know in advance if you have access needs, so we can do our best to accommodate you.
Lumb Bank Access
Lumb Bank has a bedroom with a specially adapted en-suite wetroom equipped for wheelchair access. All communal spaces, including workshop spaces, are accessible to people with mobility issues. There are steps leading up to the Barn (a communal area used for readings), with a stair lift in place. This can be used depending on your preference.
The main entrance has two steps down into the house. However, if you are in a wheelchair or have access needs, you will be met on arrival and shown to your accommodation, then shown the level-access entrance to the house via the dining room. The stone slabs around the house and garden are a bit bumpy and uneven. Please let us know in advance if you have access needs, so we can do our best to accommodate you.
The Clockhouse Access
The Clockhouse is wheelchair accessible throughout with level access to all floors and a lift. The Mary Webb apartment has a specially adapted ensuite wetroom equipped for wheelchair access. All communal spaces are accessible to people with mobility issues, including the kitchen, living room and outdoor patio.
We can accommodate wheelchair users at each of our centres. Each centre has at least one accessible bedroom with a wetroom. All communal spaces, including workshop spaces, are accessible to people with mobility issues. However, some writing houses are more convenient than others. The Hurst is our most accessible writing house, with wheelchair access to every room via a lift. There is also plenty of level-access outdoor space around the house. Lumb Bank and Totleigh Barton are more challenging because of uneven access inside and around the building. There are small ledges to navigate in the houses and the outside space is not entirely smooth.
We are currently creating access guides for each house (counting steps and measuring doorways, etc.) so please bear with us. If you have any specific questions or concerns, big or small, please contact us—we are happy to help.
We have a portable hearing loop system to amplify sound in certain areas for people who use hearing aids, which can be particularly useful in workshops. We have a vibrating pillow pad linked to our fire alarm system. All staff have disability awareness training.
We can provide information in large print and other formats, such as word documents or PDFs. We can provide large print handouts for workshops, please let us know in advance if you need these materials so we can prepare them.
External lighting for navigating around the property is provided provided by Arvon, fixed to the external elevations of the main house, front and back, as well as external buildings. Lighting is switched on and off manually by staff each day.
If you have dyslexia and need extra support, please let us know in advance. We can inform the tutors, who will be mindful of your needs. We may be able to make arrangements such as sourcing audio of suggested reading. You are welcome to use any supportive technology during the sessions, such as a dictaphone or laptop. There’s no need to worry about spelling, grammar or handwriting on our courses, the focus is on creativity.
Arvon is committed to providing a supportive and welcoming environment to all. If you have learning difficulties we will do our best to accommodate you on the week. Please telephone us before booking to chat through your needs.
Arvon courses can be challenging for some people with mental health issues because of the schedule and sociability of the week. Creative writing can also bring up challenging emotions and memories. Considering a self care plan before you arrive can be helpful. Bring along any items or activities that can help you feel better if you start experiencing issues.
Centre staff are available to speak to during the core hours of the day. They are very welcoming and will be happy to sit down with you to listen to how you are feeling. Out of hours we recommend contacting Samaritans on 116 123.
You will never be forced to participate in any element of the week, and if you need to take some time out to rest or be alone you are welcome to do so, please just let a member of staff or a tutor know that you’ll be sitting out.
We encourage you to let us know in advance if you have mental health problems that might come up during the week. If we know in advance we will be able to provide additional support and check in with you throughout the week.
The Hurst has en-suite bathrooms and wetrooms, as well as a level access downstairs bathroom near to the communal areas. At the Clockhouse you will each have your own en-suite bathroom or wetroom.
At Lumb Bank and Totleigh Barton bathrooms are shared, unless you have the en-suite room. Bathrooms are spread out across each floor near the bedrooms, and are never shared by more than five people. We find there are plenty of toilet/washing facilities available, and it’s rare that you will have to wait long for a shower, or be unable to find a bathroom when you need it. Totleigh Barton and Lumb Bank do not have bathrooms on the ground floor near the workshop rooms, you’ll have to go upstairs or toward the nearest bedrooms. There is a wheelchair accessible bathroom in the Barn at Lumb Bank.
Each of our writing houses can accommodate a personal assistant or carer, subject to availability of space.There is no additional charge for that person. Please note that a care assistant will not be able to take part in the course except to give you direct assistance. We strongly advise that you contact the centre before placing your booking so we can ensure there is space available.
Each centre can accommodate guide dog if required. The nearest toilet area for assistance dogs is located in the garden, but we ask that all waste is picked up in bags and disposed of.
Food, Special Diets and Allergies
We are happy to accommodate for any special diets and allergies. As our centres are in rural locations, it is important to know your requirements in advance so provisions can be bought in. When you book your course, please let the centre know your dietary requirements. Staff will then design menus to take these into account, eg allergies, dairy- or gluten- free, vegan or vegetarian. If you have specific medical or religious requirements, please inform the centre staff in advance.
- Staff are available during staffed hours.
- Emergency information is provided for out of hours.
- All staff have disability awareness training.
- We have emergency evacuation procedures for disabled visitors.
- While we offer some accessible facilities, our centres do vary considerably and we regret we may not be able to accommodate some requirements. If you have specific needs, it is important that you discuss these with centre staff before booking, to establish whether your needs can be met.
If you have access needs or general questions and concerns, please contact the center that's hosting your course. We're happy to help.