The government has launched a public consultation into making Changing Places toilets mandatory in new, large public buildings, following years of hard work by campaigners.
It is fantastic news for Changing Places users who, alongside Muscular Dystrophy UK and the Changing Places Consortium, have long pushed for changes to legislation.
Under the proposals, Changing Places toilets will be made mandatory in new, or majorly refurbished, large buildings used by the public. Buildings covered include shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, hotels, hospitals, leisure centres, libraries and art venues.
Catherine Woodhead, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, which co-chairs the Changing Places Consortium, said:
People living with disabilities go to work, visit shops and enjoy days out with friends just like everyone else. But a lack of Changing Places toilets make these seemingly simple tasks a challenge. Too often, we hear stories of people not leaving their homes, having to be changed on dirty toilet floors or even having surgery because there are not enough facilities.
The Government’s consultation on making Changing Places toilets mandatory in new, large public buildings is hugely encouraging. Along with our fantastic campaigners, we have long pushed for changes to legislation, and now we are one step closer to that being reality. This is wonderful news for everyone who needs Changing Places toilets. We look forward to working with the Government and campaigners in making society more inclusive.
Changing Places toilets are needed by more than a quarter of a million people across the UK with severe disabilities. They are different to standard accessible toilets, as they are built for people who may have limited mobility and need specific equipment, or the assistance of carers to use toilets safely and comfortably. These toilets are larger than standard disabled toilets and have additional features including an adult-sized height-adjustable changing bench, a peninsular toilet designed for assisted use and a hoist.
Muscular Dystrophy UK is encouraging people to respond to the consultation, which will be open until 21 July. You can do so here.
Lauren West, Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers Manager, said:
As a Changing Places user, I’m delighted to see the potential change to building regulations to include these life-changing facilities. Currently provision is very hit and miss with some areas having none at all. This means people like myself can’t visit these places or can’t stay as long as they’d like. This consultation is an encouraging step towards making the right facilities accessible to those that need them.
With Changing Places, disabled people have the ability to travel, to work, to enjoy leisure activities and to spend valuable time with family and friends. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense. By providing these toilets, you’re giving disabled people the opportunity to visit your venue, to spend money and to spread the word about its inclusivity.
Fiona Anderson, 30, from Bolton, is part of Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers network, and needs Changing Places toilets. She said:
A lack of Changing Places toilets has led to me deciding to have surgery, which will give me more freedom to go to the toilet. If these facilities were in every large public building, I would no longer have to endure the pain of postponing going to the toilet all day and the ever-present dark cloud of sepsis occurring would be lifted. Ultimately, I also wouldn’t need to have a catheter fitted, which would mean the world to me. I’m not incontinent – I simply can’t transfer to a toilet without a hoist.
Changing Places toilets are a much-needed lifeline. But with so few of them available, people like me are forced to sacrifice our dignity and independence.
What you can do
- Respond to the online consultation here
- Continue to spread to word about the importance of Changing Places toilets and why they are needed
- Share you stories with Muscular Dystrophy UK, so we can continue to put the pressure on. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org