As we announced in our last post, Salford University, The Student Union and the accommodation provider are all still willing to host us for BiCon 2018 – this is a great relief as without that, there would not have been a BiCon at all as there was not enough time or energy for another venue to be found. Now, just over a week later, we are ready to open bookings.
When we visited the venue last week we found many good things, but before we direct you to the bookings link we also wish to be upfront about some of the drawbacks of this venue which we may not be able to resolve in the four months we have until BiCon. There are some known issues and some questions which have yet to be answered. We are putting the information we have on the appropriate pages, but this post summarises the main challenges which at the present are most likely to affect parents of children, under 18s and some people with access needs
The venue is on a green, grassy campus with some slopes but no hills. The spaces we will be using are modern and well served for disabled access, with lifts to every floor except for a small part of the bar. There are pre-labeled gender neutral toilets as well as male and female ones which we will be using. There is plenty of social space in both the buildings we will be using as well as outside and the bar and cafe space we will be using in the evening is excellent. The accommodation is in flats with double beds and well fitted and spacious kitchens.
Although we have a provisional booking with an excellent creche provider, but we do not currently have a suitable place at the venue to host a creche for younger children. We are working with the venue to try and setup something suitable but may have to be creative in our provision of childcare support at this BiCon.
All people under 18 will need a named "responsible adult" who is also attending BiCon, and this information will be shared with the venue as part of their safeguarding requirements. This includes young people aged 16 and 17 who are welcome to attend BiCon and appropriate workshops in their own right.
Families in on-site accommodation
Although the accommodation supplier does allow under 18s when attending with a responsible adult our current understanding is that each person would need their own room. We are seeking clarification on this for people attending with younger children and babies but the on-site accommodation may turn out not to be suitable for them. We have been told that parents may not bring portable cots into rooms due to the providers own safety regulations.
There are only a limited number of adapted rooms available through the accommodation provider, and some of them may be in a different block to the main BiCon accommodation and further away. Some adapted rooms have more adaptations than others. Their kitchen and living areas are larger than average with accessible lowered counters and similar. We did not get to see these rooms or flats during our site visit due to students occupying them but are hoping the venue can send us more details very soon. As they are very new, we hope they will be of a high standard.
Due to the limited number of adapted rooms BiCon's access officer will contact you to discuss your needs so we can try and accommodate as many people with access needs on-site as possible. Allocation will be by time-booked and need, so please do register as soon as possible.
We are aware the on-site accommodation may not meet some people's needs and with a limited number of accessible rooms on site some people may wish to consider some of the many off-site accommodation options nearby. The BiCon team do not have the capacity to recommend or book any off-site accommodation for attenders, but we encourage people to share information and chat about this on the BiCon UK Facebook community.
The Access Fund may be able to assist with some of the additional costs associated with off-site accommodation, especially for disabled people and parents, but the fund is finite.
One of the drawbacks of this venue is the limited number of available rooms suitable for us to use for sessions and other purposes. We will be using one lecture theatre style room with fixed seating for plenaries and some sessions (there is some wheelchair access including at the front) and three seminar style rooms. We will also have access to some other spaces, but may have fewer than usual sessions in each slot and have to use the other spaces in creative ways.
There will be a deadline for booking on site accommodation which we will update you on as soon as we have it confirmed. In the meantime if you can book and pay in full by PayPal now please do as that will make the team's lives a lot easier and the more rooms we are able to confirm the more likely we are to be able to extend booking.
As we are still waiting for information and to finalise which areas we are hiring from the venue, we may not be able to answer all questions straight away. We do however welcome questions as they let us know what people are expecting and needing. We will send an acknowledgement and then a proper answer as soon as we can.
If you are not sure you can attend due to financial, access or childcare considerations, you can book now and select the ‘invoice’ option at checkout. This will let you tell us your needs in the form so we can contact you about them and do our best to get your needs met. If once we have answers for you we find we cannot meet your needs, we would not charge you for BiCon.