I have created a petition to make Changing Places Toilets mandatory in large public places.
Here is the link to my petition:
Please sign it and share it! It will only take five minutes of your time, and can help to make a massive difference to disabled people’s lives.
If we get 10,000 signatures the government will respond to it, and if we get 100,000 it will be considered for a debate in Parliament.
Unfortunately only UK citizens are able to sign the petition, so apologies to those living outside of the UK. But please feel free to share it with UK-based people who may be interested in signing.
Why are Changing Places important?
Disabled toilets are not perfect. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and there is no guarantee that I would even be able to fit my Powerchair in them. And that’s assuming that a place actually has a disabled toilet. Many places don’t.
Plus, standard disabled toilets are only okay if you don’t need to get out of the chair to do your business, or if you’re able to transfer yourself. Many disabled people, including myself, rely on a hoist to be able to get out of our chairs. So if we need to go on the toilet when we are out and about or get changed then we are stuck. We don’t have a choice but to wait until we get home.
Some disabled people need changing regularly but have to resort to being changed on a dirty toilet floor because there are no adult sized changing facilities available. This is not just degrading, but completely unhygienic and dangerous too. Only baby changing facilities are provided, and obviously, anyone bigger than a baby will not be able to use them.
Thankfully, there is a solution, and that is Changing Places Toilets. If you’re not familiar with changing places they are like the Sistine Chapel of the toilet world. They are fantastic.
Firstly, compared to the average disabled toilet they are huge. There’s enough room to accommodate even the largest of powerchairs plus 2 carers, and still have enough room left over to invite your friends and family for the occasion if you so wish. In my experience I have seen far too many disabled toilets that were barely big enough for me to get in, and many where it was impossible to close the door behind me. So, whenever I encounter a changing places toilet it is a massive breath of fresh air. (Unless someone’s used it before me of course! :p)
Secondly, changing places have all the necessary equipment to enable disabled people to be hoisted onto the toilet or changed. Each one has a ceiling hoist that covers the whole of the room, a large adult sized changing table, a centrally placed toilet, a roll with paper to cover the changing table for hygiene, and a screen for privacy.
There are now 1040 changing places toilets in the UK, and that number is slowly but steadily growing. Some cities are really leading the way in providing changing places like Leicester which has 15 changing places in the city itself and 7 in the surrounding areas. Nottingham has 10 in the city. But some cities are lagging behind, like my nearest city, Lincoln, for example.
Lincoln has only 3 changing places toilets so far, so there is a lot of room for improvement if we are going to catch up to Leicester or Nottingham. But some towns and cities don’t have any at all. Visit the changing places website to find your nearest ones.
According to the code of practice “British Standard 8300:2009: Design of Buildings and Their Approaches to Meet the Needs of Disabled People” changing places toilets are RECOMMENDED in large public places such as the following:
a) major transport termini or interchanges, e.g. large railway stations and airports
b) motorway services
c) sport and leisure facilities, including large hotels
d) cultural centres, such as museums, concert halls and art galleries
e) stadia and large auditoria
f) shopping centres and shopmobility centres
g) key buildings within town centres, e.g. town halls, civic centres and main public libraries
h) educational establishments
i) health facilities, such as hospitals, health centres and community practices.
However, these are just RECOMMENDATIONS and changing places toilets are not mandatory. It is up to local councils to decide whether they want to install changing places toilets or not, and they are under no obligation to do so.
Changing places should be mandatory in the places listed above, not merely a recommendation. For severely disabled people changing places toilets are a necessity not merely a luxury. Many severely disabled people choose to stay at home rather than go out in their community because the facilities they require are not available.
If more changing places toilets were provided in the community it would give disabled people much more freedom and peace of mind in their lives. It would allow disabled people to be a little bit more equal members of society. Able-bodied people don’t have to worry about being able to use the toilet when they are out and about, so why should disabled people?
So, please do sign my petition if you can and share it with everyone you know. Let’s make some positive change in the world!