Changing Places Awareness Day 2019

Published Date
Laura Burge
CastleCourt Changing Places toilet in Belfast

Today is Changing Places Awareness Day – the annual event that highlights the importance of fully-accessible toilets needed by more than a quarter of a million people in the UK.

Without enough Changing Places toilets, 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.

As co-chairs of the Changing Places Consortium, we are committed to campaigning for Changing Places toilets until there are enough UK wide. We will be using Changing Places Awareness Day to show the need for the facilities and are encouraging as many people as possible to get involved.

What can you do?

Carrie Aimes, who has Ullrich muscular dystrophy, had a catheter surgically fitted because of a lack of Changing Places toilets. She says:

Not having access to Changing Places facilities takes away your independence. It made planning days out so complicated. In the past, I either wouldn’t go out, or I’d dehydrate myself. I was so desperate to avoid the indignity of struggling to transfer from my wheelchair whenever I needed to go to the toilet, I was prepared to do anything.

You can read a blog by Carrie about her experiences of Changing Places here. And read Michaela Hollywood’s blog here.

What are Changing Places toilets?

Changing Places toilets are fully-accessible and include additional equipment such as a height-adjustable adult-sized changing bench and a hoist. They are also larger than standard accessible toilets. You can find out more here.

They are needed by people with severe and multiple learning disabilities, as well as people with other physical disabilities, such as spinal injuries, muscle-wasting conditions and multiple sclerosis.

New findings

Our latest figures, released to mark the awareness day, show that, out of all UK regions, London has the fewest Changing Places toilets per head, at 0.9 per 100,000 people.

The full findings are below:

  • Scotland (3.6)
  • Channel Islands (3)
  • West Midlands (3)
  • Yorkshire and the Humber (3)
  • East Midlands (2.6)
  • North East (2.2)
  • Wales (2.2)
  • South West (2.1)
  • East of England (1.9)
  • North West (1.8)
  • South East (1.7)
  • Northern Ireland (1.4)
  • London (0.9)

Our data also shows that:

  • 14 out of 2,563 railway stations and 49 out of 5,497 visitor attractions – both fewer than one per cent – have a Changing Places toilet
  • There are 24 Changing Places toilets at 16 of the UK’s 46 airports
  • Just 18 pubs, restaurants and cafes across the UK have a Changing Places toilet

What are we calling for?

We know some places don’t have enough Changing Places toilets. That is why we are calling for at least one facility in every town.

We will also be pushing the Government to quickly put in place the legislation to make Changing Places mandatory in new, large public buildings, once its consultation closes.

What progress has been made since 2018?

While there is still work to be done, we must recognise the progress that has been made over the past 12 months. In May, the Government launched a consultation on making Changing Places toilets mandatory in new, large public buildings following years of campaigning.

In addition, the Department for Transport is providing £2 million funding to install Changing Places toilets at motorway service stations in England. And a partnership with supermarket giant Tesco has resulted in a rollout of 35 facilities at stores across the country.

Clare Lucas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Muscular Dystrophy UK, says:

Going to the toilet is a basic human right, but too many disabled people are being denied that right. Activities that many of us take for granted, like going to work or shopping, prove difficult because there just aren’t enough facilities. This is leaving disabled people isolated, and that’s not acceptable.

For more information

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