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Why we do what we do

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO!

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HOW IT STARTED...

 

Myself (Karen) and Roxanne, and many others struggle when going to new places for various reasons, but the main reason is fear of the unknown. I would spend days, even weeks fretting and preparing for days out, meetings and appointments, and family meals, sometimes resulting in often cancelling last minute and avoiding the situation entirely.

 

At its best, I spend hours trawling through websites, google images, street maps, social media photos etc., trying to find out where the closest parking or drop off point is, what seating they have, if any, the distance from the entrance to reception, if it is wheelchair accessible, if they have accessible toilet facilities, the list is endless. Sometimes I find enough information to ease my anxiety, but more often than not, I ask my husband to go in and scope out the place, sometimes even video calling me when he is inside.

 

However, the reality is that I have arrived at venues with my children to find they aren’t suitable. I have been distressed, embarrassed, angry, upset, anxious, and many times I have chosen to sit in my car whilst my husband and children carry on with their day.

With the covid-19 pandemic, we all struggled with the imposed changes, some more than others. As lockdowns lifted and the world opened up, the world that I once knew was no more. The places I usually went to had now imposed restrictions one way systems and changes to seating and layout. This tipped my world upside down. The small world I once knew was now as unfamiliar to me as the rest of the world, only this time, there were no google images, street maps, or social media photos to help me navigate these new changes.

Monday 12th July 2021, Roxanne and I went to a coffee shop we often went to pre-pandemic, only to find that the only seating I could use was off-limits because it infringed on the 2m social distancing with the queue. I decided that day that I wasn’t taking anymore of this inaccessible world that was disabling me at every opportunity. Myself and Roxanne decided it would be our goal to change the Equality Act (2010) to include Familiarisation Videos under reasonable adjustments.

We knew this would not be enough, and we would need to lead the way with this initiative, so Familiarisation Videos was born. Aiming to reduce anxiety, and help people overcome barriers by making unfamiliar places more familiar.

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How it started
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MEET OUR TEAM

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KAREN WILLIAMS FOUNDER & DIRECTOR

 

I’m Karen, I’m the founder and director of Familiarisation Videos. I’m a married mum of two beautiful teenagers who both have additional needs including autism, and I am currently studying a degree in mental health and wellbeing at Wrexham Glyndwr University. 

I live with Lipolymphoedema, bipolar and struggle with agoraphobia. I like so many others out there struggle with anxiety, especially when faced with something new or unfamiliar. I want to be able to go places without fear of what I am walking into. I want to be reassured that there are seats I can rest on, that have no arms. I want to know where the toilets and what they are like inside, without having to ask someone. I need to know where the closest drop off point or car parking is and how far away the entrance is from there. I want to be prepared for a busy environment and know what that looks and sounds like. What’s more, I want these things for you too… 

Starting my studies I had no idea what I wanted to do afterwards, only that I wanted to make a difference and help make someone’s life better. Now, I know this is what I am meant to be doing to help as many people as possible.

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ROXANNE FRANCE-BARTON CO-FOUNDER & DIRECTOR

 

Hi, I’m Roxanne, Co-Founder and Director of Familiarisation Videos. I am a mum of two amazing girls, and I am currently studying for a degree in Mental Health and Wellbeing at Wrexham Glyndwr University.

I live with complex mental health conditions, and I understand only too well the fear that is brought on by visiting somewhere new and unfamiliar. The need to know everything about a public space or venue can become extremely overwhelming for me and can ultimately stop me from visiting somewhere altogether. Because of my conditions knowing the layout of a space or venue can help alleviate my anxieties before I visit. For instance, knowing where the toilets are, how to get in and out of a building, knowing where the fire exits are and how to evacuate in an emergency are all important pieces of information that I need while I plan a visit to somewhere I have never been before. 

I have missed out on so many experiences throughout my life because of the anxiety of visiting a public space or venue for the first time, and I am so proud to be a part of a project that will change so many people’s lives so that they don’t have to miss out on anything ever again.

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SARAH COMER DIRECTOR & CHAIRPERSON

 

My name is Sarah and I'm one of the founding directors of Familiarisation Videos. I'm a single mum of amazing twin girls, and I've worked in design and marketing for many years for corporate companies. I have a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design and professional marketing qualifications from the CIM.

 

After being made redundant during the pandemic, I set up my own graphic design and marketing agency, and shortly after that I was given the wonderful opportunity to become part of Familiarisation Videos. My role here is to create all of our marketing content and branding, which I enjoy every minute of! I'm also Chairperson, making sure we're prepared for all of our meetings and that they run smoothly and we have plenty of treats.

I jumped at the chance of being part of this fantastic social enterprise as it's such an ingenious initiative. I couldn't believe that these videos didn't already exist for people, and immediately wanted to help make them available. The sheer amount of people that our videos will benefit is incredible and I'm looking forward to seeing Familiarisation Videos grow. 

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LEON BOWEN DIRECTOR

 

I’m Leon, one of the Directors for Familiarisation Videos. I grew up in the Wrexham area and have been running my media business here for several years.

 

After meeting the team at a networking event I was inspired to help them on their journey of making the ‘unfamiliar more familiar’. Using my background in photography and videography, I am here to help provide technical support and guidance.

 

Looking from the outside in, I may seem very confident and this is how I like to come across; but i’ve struggled with anxiety since I was very young.  I understood the real importance of these videos. The Familiarisation team are helping open the door for individuals and giving them a grand tour of the space. 


Karen, Roxy and Sarah are incredibly dedicated and passionate to work with. I hope to help them continue achieving the fantastic results and supporting those who need it. I look forward to meeting others along this journey and seeing how we can develop our offering to provide a wholesome experience.

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Meet the Team
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