Today is Changing Places Awareness Day, which highlights the campaign for fully-accessible Changing Places toilets across the country.
There are currently just over 1,300 registered Changing Places toilets across the UK but more are desperately needed. The Government is currently consulting on making these vital facilities mandatory in new, large public buildings. This is welcome news but I want to help ensure that these proposals become reality in order to give disabled people and their families the best chance of living full and fulfilling lives that are not undermined by unnecessary stresses.
Fully-accessible Changing Places toilets are essential for more than a quarter of a million people across the UK. They are different from standard accessible toilets as they provide extra equipment (a bench and a hoist) and space to allow disabled people to use the toilet in safety and comfort.
Too often, because there aren’t enough Changing Places toilets available, people with severe disabilities face the option of not leaving their homes, limiting fluid intake on days out, or having to be changed on dirty toilet floors. Some people even opt to have surgery to remove the anxiety about when they will be able to access a toilet. These are not choices people should have to face.
I was delighted to show Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, the Changing Places toilet that has recently been installed in Thames Chase Community Forest in Upminster, which is accompanied by a quiet room that parents with autistic children can use for calming space. Along with a range of accessible bicycles, the facility means that families dealing with disability can have enjoyable days out that are not tainted with the stress and hassle of finding a decent toilet.
To find out more about the Changing Places campaign and where Changing Places toilets are located, visit: www.changing-places.org.