Sesame Lift

Barristers’ chambers 7BR has invested in disabled access by Sesame Access Systems to transform the accessibility of its Grade II-listed home in central London.

6 & 7 Bedford Row have been home to chambers since 2004, but it has been an ongoing challenge to retain the 18th-century building’s architectural integrity whilst also ensuring facilities are in-keeping with 7BR’s core values of equality, diversity, and inclusivity.

7BR stated that it was delighted to have found a solution to the issue: Sesame Steps, which would be installed by Sesame Access Systems – a specialist lift company which designs, builds and installs bespoke wheelchair access lifts for buildings, particularly listed buildings.

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The Steps work by hydraulically concealing the lift when not in use. On approaching the Steps, the lift can be independently operated to allow a seamless entrance into the building for all users.

Commenting on the installation of the Sesame Steps, 7BR’s Chief Executive Harry Charlton, said: “Inclusivity is an integral part of 7BR’s DNA. We are looking to be as accessible as possible, whether it is the language we use, the way we explain the legal tests and processes, or the way we take care of a case.Sesame Lift access

“For us it was absolutely vital we found a way to ensure all the building’s users could enter and leave independently, with dignity and in comfort. In this context the Sesame Steps have been transformational.

“We recognise that for many of our clients, coming into Chambers is stressful enough in itself without worrying about how they will get in or whether they can reach an accessible toilet. We wanted to reduce that anxiety.”

“Grappling with the restrictions of a historic building whilst trying to modernise and improve accessibly is a real issue for the legal industry.  Many chambers, law firms and courts up and down the country are housed in listed properties. We’ve found a solution for us.

“It was a significant investment but we are committed to inclusivity and this is what it took. This, of course, is not the end of the process. We want to deepen our understanding of diversity and to initiate active solutions to inequality wherever we can. The transformation of our front of house access is part of the accessibility journey to becoming truly inclusive.”

Sesame Access was founded in 1996 by Charlie Lyons, a hydraulic engineer. He was inspired to develop a Sesame lift after hearing about a friend’s wife, who used a wheelchair, being unable to get into an art gallery, a listed building with steps up to the front door.

Its clients include Bank of England, Sydney Opera House, Seattle Space Needle, Kensington Palace, Qatar National Library, Oxford and Cambridge Universities and Whitehall.

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