MDUK is delighted to announce that more than 500 new Changing Places toilets will be built across England.
The news comes following the allocation of £23.5m worth of funding from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to 191 councils across England.
The 513 Changing Places toilets will be built in public places and tourist attractions, meaning toilet accessibility for those with severe disabilities will be vastly improved in these areas.
An additional £6.5m will be allocated to local councils in a further round later this year and will focus on areas where there is little or no Changing Places toilet provision.
There are currently just over 1,300 registered Changing Places toilets in England, and today’s package will bring that figure to more than 1,800.
These larger, accessible toilets are for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets. They include specialist equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches, and space for carers.
New facilities will now be built in the following venues:
• Public parks and open spaces
• Tourist attractions including historic properties, seaside resorts and zoos
• Museums, theatres and galleries
• Shopping malls
• Libraries and public buildings
Muscular Dystrophy UK co-chairs the Changing Places consortium and has been heavily involved throughout this process. The charity will be providing specialist expertise to support local councils that are awarded funding. This expertise will include:
- Dedicated advice and information and Changing Places officers to support councils
- Changing Places manual and training
- Connecting authorities and facilitating a collaborative network of support
- Signposting to suppliers and installation companies
Sarah Rennie is a wheelchair user from Birmingham and is supported by a personal assistant to use a hoist and access facilities in Changing Places toilets.
She said: “I can’t use typical accessible toilets because, without a hoist or changing bench, I can’t get from my wheelchair onto the toilet. This means that all too often, if I'm working in another city, attending a hospital appointment or going to a festival, I can expect to wait 12 hours without accessing a toilet. This can make me feel ill and be quite painful. Changing Places toilets offer me - and my assistant - a safe and dignified alternative. It’s such a relief to know that there will be more of these throughout England which gives me a better chance to find a loo I can use and go about my day like everyone else."
Robert Burley, Director of Care, Communications and Support at MDUK, said: "We’ve provided specialist support to the Levelling Up department throughout this process and we’re really pleased that local authorities will soon be told the outcome of their application. We look forward to supporting councils that have been awarded the funding with their Changing Places toilet installations, because they really do make a world of difference to those who depend on them.”