Accessible Kingston - Isabella Plantation

Bright pink azaleas

Accessible Kingston – Isabella Plantation

The sun is shining, well, most of the time, so thoughts go to getting outside. First in KCIL’s (irregular) new series on accessible places to go in Kingston Borough and beyond is Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park.

Isabella Plantation is a 40-acre woodland garden planted by the Victorians in the 1830s. It is famous for its blooming azaleas, which make the garden a riot of colour in late April and early May. Even when out of peak azalea season, the garden has something to offer every season, with burbling streams, mirror-like ponds and stunning foilage.

Over the past few years, Isabella Plantation has made significant improvements in accessibility. With an accessible toilet block opened by some familiar faces a few years ago. There are also improved path surfaces and more benches to sit on. Visit Isabella Plantation’s Visitor Information page for an access map of accessible walking routes through the gardens.

The opening of the accessible toilet block in Isabella Plantation
KCIL members and staff open the accessible toilet block in Isabella Plantation

Isabella Plantation can be easily accessed from the disabled car park, just in front of the gardens. The Plantation can also be reached by the free RP1 bus service, which runs on Wednesdays between 20 April and 26 October 2022.

KCIL will be visiting Isabella Plantation on Thursday, 26 May, meeting in the disabled car park at 11 am. To join us for our stroll, please get in touch with the team on 020 8546 9603 or email [email protected], so that we know to expect you and can let you know if there is a last-minute change of plan due to weather.

Isabella Plantation trip poster, 'join KCIL for an accessible walk through Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park

What’s your favourite accessible place in the Kingston area and beyond? Get in touch and let us know.

A person counting stacks of coins

Support for disabled people during the cost of living crisis

There has been a fall in ‘real’ disposable household income in the UK since late 2021 (household income after it has been adjusted for inflation, taxes and benefits). Rising fuel and food costs have overtaken wage and benefit increases and have been exacerbated by recent tax increases. Disabled people are already more likely to live in food and fuel poverty than non-disabled people, and the cost of living crisis will worsen the situation.

The links below contain sources of help and advice in this current situation. 

Cost of Living Crisis – get help with energy and care costs – Inclusion London – an article with helpful links and advice.

Disability Energy Support Service – a telephone and email advice service provided by Scope. Telephone appointments are currently fully booked, but new appointments will be released at the end of May.

Cost of Living Advice and Support from Citizens Advice Kingston – a helpful web page with advice, plus a contact form if you would like further support.

Cost of Living advice from Kingston council

Money Matters – useful links from Connected Kingston

Help with the cost of living – advice from the London Assembly.

KCIL recognises that digital exclusion can further increase the difficulties in finding support.

Please get in touch with the KCIL team on 020 8546 9603 if you or the person you are supporting requires assistance in accessing any of the information we’ve listed above.

Inclusion London is calling for the government to support Disabled people during this crisis. Support the campaign by writing to your MP through The Action Network website.

A collection of photos showing 1. a person with a white cane walking down steps 2. a young woman in an office in a wheelchair 3. two young women using BSL 4. a stencilled disability sign on a parking spot. The text reads Reporting an Access Issue through KCIL, and Supporting deaf and disabled people to live as independently as they choose

Reporting an Access Issue through KCIL

Reporting an Access Issue Through KCIL

KCIL offers a Live Access Reporting service on our website, through which we encourage people to report instances of good or bad accessibility they encounter within the borough.
Screenshot of KCIL homepage with arrow pointing towards report an access issue button

What type of issue can I report?

We believe accessibility covers every aspect of your day to day experience, not just the physical environment, so we welcome reports of any and all circumstances that have negatively impacted you because of any impairments you may have. We have listed a few examples of access issues below, though there are many more.

• Poorly designed spaces – Doors and corridors too narrow, no room to manoeuvre between furniture.

• Inadequate facilities – Lack of lifts or Accessible toilets

• Personal Safety Risk – Evacuation plans that do not take your specific needs into account.

• Lack of accessible information – Written information provided without easy read or large print options; media provided without subtitles or audio description; websites without font or contrast options.

• Poor treatment/Customer Service – a lack of awareness training amongst staff members to demonstrate appropriate and inappropriate levels of assistance.

Why should we also report Good Accessibility?

At KCIL, we believe in promoting those venues or businesses that have taken appropriate steps to increase their overall accessibility. This allows us to guide our members to services they can feel safe and comfortable using. It also allows us to showcase to those who have yet to take such steps the positive results they can bring.

How can I make a Live Access Report?

You can find the Live Access Report form on our website here. To help us to address the issue properly, please provide as much information as possible; for example, some key things to include would be:

• Your Name – For ease of communication between yourself and KCIL. You will still remain anonymous when we pass on details of your report to the appropriate parties, and we will share no personal details without your consent.

• An email address or phone number – In case we need to contact you for further details or to let you know how an Access Report has progressed since it was submitted.

• The nature of the accessibility issue – a description of what caused the issue and how it affected you specifically.

• The location of the accessibility issue – The name of the venue/business as well as the town or specific branch, plus the website/media address if applicable.

• Response – How the staff/owners reacted to the accessibility issue if they were made aware of it and any assistance they attempted to offer.

• Photographs – While the Report Form does not yet allow attachments, please indicate it within the form if you have photographs of the access issue. We will reach out to request them from you.

What happens after a report is submitted?

Once we have received a Live Access Report, it is forwarded to our Access Team. The Access Team will then reach out to you if you have provided contact details. We will confirm we have received your report and request further information from you if needed.

Once we have assessed the information, we reach out to the appropriate venue/business management and inform them of the issue. We will inform the management of the venue or business of the specific parts of the Accessible Building Regulations and Local Plan that they may be in violation of, and to suggest a possible Best Practice solution to the issue itself. We at KCIL pride ourselves in providing both professional experience and lived experience when dealing with accessibility. This allows us to offer solutions beyond the bare minimum required to meet the local access requirements.

Afterwards, we then invite the venue/business to make use of our other Access Services, so that we can work with them to find and prevent any future Access Issues that may arise.


A PA and her client

What’s the difference between a carer, a support worker and a personal assistant?

KCIL’s PA/Support Worker Hub has job posts with a selection of different job titles; support worker, personal assistant, and more, so what’s the difference between the roles?
KCIL members and their PA at the coffee morning


A carer is somebody who cares for someone. This may be a paid role, or it could be an unpaid role, for example, when looking after a family member or a friend.

Carers normally work within the person’s home, supporting personal care and helping with meals and household tasks.

Support workers

A support worker is a paid position, the support worker may have had training, or they may have the possibility of training in the future. They can work within the disabled person’s home or out in the community, supporting that person to live independently. 

The support worker may work for an agency, an organisation that supports people in the community or directly for the disabled person.

A KCIL member and his PA enjoying a KCIL coffee morning

Personal assistants

Personal assistants, also known as PAs, work directly for the disabled person. They may be employed by the disabled person or by a member of the disabled person’s family, or they may be self-employed. The personal assistant works within the disabled person’s home and may go out on trips with them into the community. 

The role of a PA can be very varied, they assist the disabled person to live independently, so this can range from supporting with personal care to being out in the community. Each PA role is unique; the tasks required will be listed in the job description when applying for the job. PAs can work for more than one person. As the PA progresses through their career, they will develop skills, experience and training that support them in their work.

The terms carer, support worker and personal assistant can be interchangeable. At KCIL, we often advertise our roles as Personal Assistant/Support Worker or Personal Assistant/Carer, using words that the person we’re advertising for feels comfortable with. 

When job hunting for a role in the care sector, we recommend not restricting yourself to searching for just one type of care job, be that just searching for jobs with ‘carer’ in the title or just searching ‘support worker’ roles.  Each position is different, the perfect job may just be a click away.

Runners at a race start line

Run for KCIL!

We have very exciting news here at KCIL! We have secured places in some of the best running and challenge events in the UK (and the world!). Some highlights include the Royal Parks Half Marathon, the Asics London 10K, the Goodwood Marathon and an Inflatable 5K- something for everyone!

We are looking for people to take part in an event to fundraise for KCIL. Fundraising for KCIL is really important as it will enable us to expand our services and activities for disabled people in Kingston.

Three fundraising runners for KCIL next to the Thames

We will cover the cost of the entry fee and set participants a minimum fundraising target, all funds raised will go towards supporting local disabled people. Runners will be supported with fundraising and training tips throughout, we will supply KCIL branded accessories including a technical running T-shirt, and we will be there on the day to cheer you on!

This is an excellent opportunity to take part in some of the UK’s most popular running and challenge events for free, all whilst supporting KCIL. Please visit our fundraising page to find out about how you can get involved. Register your interest on the individual event pages or email [email protected] to find out more.

Easter Raffle poster, shows photo of an Easter hamper, plus KCIL logo, illustrated Easter eggs, and the words '£5' and 'Easter Raffle'

Easter Raffle

Enter into our Easter raffle to be in with a chance of winning this EGG-cellent Easter Hamper, worth £50! A donation of £5 will enter you into the draw which will take place on the 19th April 2022, or donate £10 to be entered twice!

You can donate through our Local Giving page, by visiting the office or one of our upcoming Coffee Mornings or Vaccine Champion sessions, or alternatively by pledging your donation over the phone and posting us a cheque. Make sure you leave your name and a contact number or email when you make your donation through Local Giving so that we can contact the lucky winner.

Don’t miss out or the yolk will be on you!

Your donation will go towards supporting KCIL to deliver our services and activities to disabled people in Kingston.

Have a Hoppy Easter! Donate here.

Amazon Smile and KCIL logos

Amazon Smile

Did you know that when you shop on Amazon, you could be raising money for KCIL?

KCIL is part of the Amazon Smile program. If you select Kingston Centre for Independent Living as your Amazon Smile charity, when you buy one of the products on Amazon that is part of the Smile program, Amazon donates 0.5% of the net purchase price, at no extra cost to yourself. Find out more on the Amazon website.

We appreciate your support.

Hands holding an open book, the text reads KCIL DABTAB Book Swap, Donate a book, take a book, come for a coffee and a chat, Tuesday 5th April 11am - 3pm, Thursday 7th April 11am - 3pm, Wednesday 13th April 11am - 3pm, KCIL office

Donate A Book, Bring A Book

Join us at the KCIL DABTAB swap shop 

Introducing the KCIL Donate a Book, Take a Book  

Have you got any secondhand books you think someone might enjoy? Would you like to pick up something to read? KCIL has a library of books in the office covering all subjects. Come find something new! Whilst at the office feel free to have a cup of tea and a chat with a fellow book lover or a member of the KCIL team.  

Our DABTAB sessions take place on at the KCIL Office, 31 – 35 High Street, Kingston.

Tuesday 5th April 11am – 3pm 

Thursday 7th April 11am-3pm 

Wednesday 13th April 11am-3pm

An illustration consisting of a series of small squares and bigger rectangles. Each small square features an illustration of someone reading. In some of the squares there are the words ‘Donate A Book’ and ‘Take a Book’. One of the squares has the KCIL logo. The largest rectangle features a group of people reading and the words ‘DABTAB. Have you got any secondhand books you think someone might enjoy? Would you like to pick up something to read? KCIL has a library of books in the office covering all subjects. Come find something new! Whilst in the office feel free to have a cup of tea and a chat with a fellow book lover or a member of the KCIL team’. The smaller rectangle has the words ‘Tuesday 5th 11am - 3pm, , Thursday 7th 11am-3pm, Wednesday 13th 11am-3pm.'
Photo of an older man with a carer, with the text 'Do you provide regular unpaid care for a family member or friend?'

Do you provide regular unpaid care for a family member or friend? 

Do you provide regular unpaid help and support to a family member or friend who’s struggling to cope with their daily life?

Would you like some support to help you carry on this important work?

If ‘Yes’, you may be able to get some help for yourself or the person you look after and care for. This could be a short break, benefits such as Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Credit, or some practical help with jobs around the house or garden, courses to help you change job or get back into work, gym membership or leisure classes to help relieve stress.
To find out more, please get in touch with us.
Telephone: 020 8546 9603

Background music

Prelude No. 20 by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. 



Two women sit in front of a laptop

Refer a Friend to KCIL’s PA vacancies – £50 voucher reward

Are you helping a friend or family member to job hunt? Do you already work as a PA, and you’d like your friends to know about this fantastic career path? Or are you a disabled person who would like to encourage more people into being a PA as a profession?

With your friend or family member’s permission, if you think they would be interested in one of KCIL’s PA vacancies, please pass on their details here or by emailing [email protected], and we will get in touch with them to talk through the varied roles that are available.

If your friend or family member that you have referred to KCIL successfully takes up a KCIL PA vacancy, you will receive a £50 voucher as a thank you, with a choice between –

Rose Theatre with it’s great range of drama, comedy and music,

John Lewis/Waitrose & Partners with food, fashion, furniture and more, all under one roof.

Closing date 30.4.2022.

A woman presses something on her phone screen, superimposed on the photo is the words, spread the word