I first started the website www.matchinghouses.com in 2004. The idea is brilliantly simple – why don’t disabled people who have the same access needs swap houses for holidays, rather than rely on unreliable, expensive, and often inaccessible hotel accommodation? If I can get around my house in my wheelchair, then another person who uses a similar wheelchair will also be able to use my house.
We’ve now expanded the concept to include families with disabled children. This is a group of people who often find it really difficult to go on holiday. But if you are a family with a disabled child you will now be able to swap properties with a similar family with similar access needs. The same is true for many other disabled people, travelling alone, with friends, or with their family.
Our sophisticated database system matches similar properties, only leaving you to decide where you want to go and when. People have been using the site to travel all over the world.
Some disabled people choose to go on holiday from one continent to another – we’ve had a swap between Ireland and Australia. Other people go from country to country – two people swapped between Paris and London. Swappers often stay in contact with each other, and now regularly use each others’ houses for city breaks.
Other people stay in their own country and swap from the town to the countryside, or from inland to be by the sea.
Disabled people can often be limited in their holiday choices by a range of factors. Many disabled people have very little money, some are unable to go very far for logistical reasons (for example inaccessible and unreliable public transport, or the inability to drive for long distances), while others might have health reasons for not going very far.
Matchinghouses.com can meet your needs whoever you are and however far you want to travel. You might want to stay in a property on the other side of your own city or to go to an event nearby. Maybe a country break is what you need. Or maybe some time by the sea is called for.
We have rebuilt, redesigned and are now relaunching the site. To mark this event, and to build the community with willing swappers, we are offering a free registration process. This will let you join the database, add photos of your property, have access to our “Swapping made Easy” resources, and to contact as many other people as you want on the database to swap properties.
We will be spending the coming months and years actively promoting the site across the UK and the rest of the world, so the number of accessible properties you will see will increase over time.
The ‘House Swap’ idea is not a new one. Over 250,000 people swapped houses for their holiday breaks last year. Many do so for financial reasons – it can be a very cheap holiday. But many do it because they would rather stay in a home environment than a hotel, and do what they want to do at the time of their choosing.
So the time is right for Matchinghouses.com – the site designed by disabled people for disabled people, to meet all your access needs.
Dr Theo Blackmore PhD.