NEW accessible play equipment at a busy Swindon park has been welcomed – but one mum says more should be done to help disabled children.

The King George V play area in Haydon Wick has been resurfaced and now has bongo drums, a rain wheel, sensory panel, a basket swing and new footpaths thanks to the parish council and Benjamin's Smile campaign.

The latter was launched by Becky Maddern, who struggles to take six-year-old son Benjamin to the parks along with his brothers Zachary and Jowan.

Benjamin, who is blind, was born at 32 weeks and has cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

Becky has been advocating for play parks to be made disability-friendly when they are due for an upgrade or new ones are installed. 

She said: “We can’t wait to go and try it as Benjamin loves going to the park. When he was younger we could sit with him and hold him but he’s getting too big for that now. 

“It’s a family activity but if he hears the swings but can’t go on them, he will be crying so it isn’t fair on him.” 

Becky, who lives in Oakhurst with her husband James, feels one piece of inclusive play equipment is not enough for a park and says it is a countrywide problem.

She said: “It is the 21st century but it’s still not thought about. We can’t change the past but we can change the future. People can be quite creative to make the changes so friends can play together.”

“There has been a lot of support but there isn’t always the finances so there are barriers thrown up. But it isn’t always about the cost as it doesn’t necessarily need expensive material. It could be changing an idea but sometimes people aren’t always sure how to approach it.”

“It could be so simple to do but will make such a significant difference to a families life. It matters to all children to play and things like sensory panels are great for young babies, not just for children with different needs.”

Becky has the backing of MP Justin Tomlinson who wrote on her behalf to parish councils urging them to consider children with disabilities. 

Becky said: “Justin was on board and wanted to highlight the lack of equipment so he asked what he could do to help in Swindon. It’s been hard attending all the meetings but the response has been amazing so far.” 

As this went well, Mr Tomlinson raised the issue with the government and is meeting minister for regional growth Luke Hall. 

Mr Tomlinson said: “It sparked my interest when I heard Becky was trying to get more accessible play equipment. We spoke to most parish councils which I’m very grateful for but now I have raised this across government.” 

“I’m pressing for them to make new play parks with accessible equipment. It’s not a cost thing – the adaptation of equipment is very receptive. Parks are being refurbished every day so there needs to be stronger advice from the government. People don’t appreciate the need to do it but the equipment can still be used by everyone and by people with disabilities.” 

“Becky will be joining a meeting in May as the minister is on paternity leave but it has been raised and he will no doubt be supportive.”