Rethink Re:Place Festival is returning - it's time to make our places more inclusive for people with neuro diversities

Our places are so important to us.

It wasn't so long ago we were all cooped up in our homes, we really got to know the places where we live, considering not too long ago we couldn't leave our towns or our little urban areas during the Covid-19 pandemic.

So, when New Union had conversations with our local government colleagues we were shocked to learn that there will be less funding for engagement around place and we wanted to do something, that’s why we ran the first Rethink Re:Place Festival back to showcase how tactical urbanism as a means to bridge those gaps, give the community power to influence decisions and give people the tools to run their own tactical urbanism projects where they live.

We had a month full of workshops, blogs and a hackathon that was attended by over 100 people, you can hear more about that here and you can even download a toolkit that can help you to set up your own tactical urbanism projects in your community, you can download that here.

But now Rethink Re:Pace Festival is back for 2023 but this time we’ll be looking at how we can make our towns and cities more accessible to everybody, including people who have neurodiversity conditions and we want to scratch the surface to see what we can do as a community to create more open spaces.

I have worked within the third sector on different programmes and projects that have supported and enabled young adults with varying difficulties, disabilities and neurodiversity. This is everything from simple access to community services all the way to employment and beyond. Most people regardless of any conditions want what most people want and that's to be a fully fledged member of society to contribute and feel like they are not being held back. During my time working with these individuals I have worked with a single mantra ‘If you're truly inclusive and set things up correctly in the first place, no changes need to be made’ This is something that means no one person has to have anything highlighted and can be included straight away.

Many neurodivergent individuals are now back in workplaces, public spaces and getting on with their day to day lives rolled around the term ‘The New Normal’. For many of these individuals this presents new and not exciting challenges but for others an exciting new world awaits. Lots of neurodivergent individuals have re-entered this newly changed world with a very refreshed ‘social battery’, being at home for the time during lock down allowed a break from the microaggressions evident in common culture.

These long periods at home allowed for instead of the worries around the routine of most neurotypical timekeeping pressures within socialising, work and education; But instead allowed this energy to be filtered into more productive problem solving and creative thinking leading to innovation.

Where social isolation is something that is a very real issue not only in the neurodivergent arena, but further afield, many people with a diagnosis of a neurological condition can often feel content not needing to socialise in a pub of an evening to feel connected to individuals but other options can be used to develop these relationships and rapport.

That’s why we are looking to hold a conversion and campaign to change how we think about our public spaces. It's time we started to change how society thinks, not just leave it to people with neuro diversities to find their own way to fit into society's way of life.

This is not just about us, it’s always about you, we want to hear your thoughts and we’ll be running a series of activities where you can get involved, including a participative conference type event this spring.

For now we’ll keep you guessing as we put together an excited programme of activities but you can keep up to date with the project by follow #RethinkRePlace on social media.

We have some exciting opportunities for anyone that would like to get involved, for more information on that, simply send me an email on