Wetwheels Solent

REFOCUS is a resource centre for adults and young people with learning disabilities in Salisbury. Individuals attend the service on a regular basis and our staff provide the appropriate support for people to access the community and partake in any activities they appear to enjoy. 

Up until we were introduced to Wetwheels in 2015, all of the activities that we have been able to support people with, had very much been on land and - to be honest - at times this can be limited due to people’s physical abilities, financial situations and sadly also because there is an assumption that the people we support would ‘not get anything’ out of any experience where they cannot articulate what they think of or partake fully in the activity.

An opportunity came up where we were able to gain free passes to the Wetwheels experience at the Southampton Boat Show. The people who have limited opportunities to try new things and would possibly enjoy the motion of the boat and feeling of being on water, were identified and booked onto the event. We were not certain on how people would respond to this new adventure but they have every right to have experiences as we all do. With excitement, a bit of apprehension and plenty of ‘back up plans’ the people we support, with their staff, took off for their first ride.

The majority of the people we support are unable to communicate with words but even if you hadn’t met them before to get to know their forms of communication, you would clearly be able to see that they enjoyed themselves. If you can imagine being in a wheelchair for most of your day, just being pushed from one room or place to another - now imagine sitting on a speeding boat with the sun shining and the wind blowing past you. Each and every one of the people who went on that ride came off with a smile. A smile says more than words.

It would appear we now have the bug and this is an annual event that we all look forward to. We have supported people to access this service for 2 years now and we have been bowled over by the efforts, understanding and support from the Wetwheels team. They have accommodated our ever changing needs and always maintained a friendly approach and rapport, even when it has made their timetable ‘squiffey’. They have never made us feel like an imposition when we have needed extra time to get people settled or comfortable. Unfortunately, even in this day and age this is a rare attribute, even for a company that caters for people with disabilities. Their person-centred approach is to be commended.

Zanna Finnerty