Many young disabled people from our Trailblazers network have told us of their difficulty using the bathroom when out in public because of their disability.
Most accessible toilets do not include a hoist or bench to enable a disabled person to be lifted out of their wheelchair and use the bathroom.
Changing Places provide an inclusive facility where Trailblazers tell us they feel safe and able to take care of their toileting needs.
As part of Changing Places Awareness Day (19th July), we have launched the Trailblazers Hub where our Trailblazers can access resources to help them campaign in their local area. We have launched our #FitToBurst campaign pack with statistics, memes and a draft letter our Trailblazers can use to raise awareness of Changing Places toilets and campaign to have them installed.
In our 2014 Short Changed report on access to the high street, all the Trailblazers who answered our survey said they wanted to see more Changing Places toilets available in public. Today, we are supporting our Trailblazers and others in calling for more Changing Places toilets.
Without Changing Places toilets, our Trailblazers tell us they face decisions such as whether to restrict their fluid intake, wear incontinence pads or have surgical procedures to insert a catheter to empty their bladders.
Marni is 22 years old and is a Masters student at the University of Huddersfield studying Fashion Textile Practices. She has the muscle-wasting condition spinal muscular atrophy, and cannot transfer without the use of a hoist.
In 2015, Marni was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with using the bathroom when away from her university flat or home. She had surgery on the NHS to insert a supra pubic catheter (SPC) into her bladder through her abdomen, so that she could empty her bladder without the need for a hoist.
As a young woman enjoying student life, my mind was more often focused on needing to use the bathroom and having to go home earlier than I’d like to use the bathroom rather than being able to enjoy myself.
Having my SPC inserted was medically unnecessary – my doctor referred to me as socially incontinent as toilets did not meet my needs, and I was fully able to control my bladder – and something I explicitly asked for from my doctors.
I was in pain from holding in my need to use the bathroom, and too often not drinking as much as I should have been resulting in dehydration. While I can now use the bathroom, many of my fellow disabled people cannot get an SPC placed for various reasons, and are stuck in the dark days of being unable to use the toilet in 2017!
I want to see more fully accessible toilets, which are truly accessible to everyone.”
Trailblazers Campaigns Officer, Michaela Hollywood, said:
Many of our Trailblazers tell us of their excitement and joy when they come across their first Changing Places toilet. For many, this is the first time as an adult they’ve been able to use the bathroom outside their own home or university.
Sadly, because of the need for a hoist and bench for the most severely disabled people in society, the building regulations currently don’t reflect the needs of thousands of disabled people right across the country.
We will continue to work with all the relevant organisations and decision makers to get more Changing Places toilets installed across the country, as well as helping Trailblazers get them installed locally.
If you want to campaign locally to have Changing Places toilets installed, visit our Trailblazers Hub to download our campaign pack and make a difference in your local community.