Motorway service stations in England can apply for Changing Places toilets funding from today, thanks to a £2million commitment from the Department for Transport.
More than a quarter of a million people in the UK with disabilities need fully accessible Changing Places toilets, and the funding will improve accessibility across the motorway network so they can travel with greater ease.
Speaking about the partnership with the Department for Transport, Catherine Woodhead, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:
“Individuals and families living with a disability often tell us that travelling by car is the easiest way for them to get from A to B. Building Changing Places toilets at motorway service stations will make it easier for more than a quarter of a million people and their families to visit friends, go on holiday, or simply enjoy a day out somewhere – activities the rest of us take for granted. We’re delighted the Department for Transport has recognised this need, and look forward to working together on delivering this transformational project.”
About the application process
The application form is available online. The funding – part of the DfT’s Inclusive Transport Strategy – is only available for motorway service stations in England but we remain committed to fighting for more Changing Places toilets across the entire UK road network.
Transport Accessibility Minister Nusrat Ghani said:
“Today marks the next step towards our ambition of delivering a fully inclusive transport network.
It is unacceptable that, despite welcome investment in some areas, our roadside services are not more accessible for over a quarter of a million people, and I am determined to do more.
Our partnership with MDUK will help ensure that everyone, disabled or not, can use our roads and I encourage as many operators as possible to apply for funding.”
The application deadline is 12 July 2019. Applications will then be reviewed and the results will be announced by the end of September 2019. As there is a limited amount of money available we will not be able to agree to fund all bids received.
If a service station’s application is successful, 50% match-funding will be payable by means of a single grant payment upon completion of the project. The operator will be responsible for all associated and ongoing maintenance costs.
Why is this such an important issue?
This funding has been made possible thanks to the tireless campaigning of Changing Places campaigners and the consortium for over a decade. Two integral campaigners in this process are Tony Clough and Zack Kerr, whose two Change.org petitions have amassed almost 160,000 signatures collectively. On behalf of the whole consortium we would like to thank all the campaigners who have made this funding possible – it really will be life changing for so many families across the country.
Zack Kerr and his step-dad, Ceri Davies, said:
“It has already been great to see the positive response from some motorway service operators in installing more of these facilities, which are vital for over 260,000 disabled people and their families and carers in the UK. Without these facilities, many disabled people and their families simply cannot travel freely around the country having confidence that their basic toilet and hygiene needs are accommodated. Providing these facilities in public places up and down the country, is nothing short of life-changing for so many people but there is still a long way to go to make all our towns, cities, shopping centres, transport hubs, entertainment, cultural and leisure facilities fully accessible to all. We continue our campaign for Changing Places awareness, and Zack would like to thank everyone who has supported him, his family, friends and fellow campaigners, up and down the country and all who have encouraged him in this successful campaign.”
“This is great news for the disabled people, families and friends who need Changing Places. Why do most of us stop at a motorways services? To use the loos! For many years we have had to lie my sister on the dirty floor of a standard disabled toilet. Currently only 22% of services have Changing Places, which is very restrictive to many thousands of people. This news will certainly well received.”
Carrie Aimes, 30, from Worcestershire, has the condition Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy, and a member of Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers network. She has spoken about the importance of Changing Places toilets:
“Picture yourself on a day out with friends, or enjoying dinner at a restaurant with your partner. Then imagine, for just one moment, that there are no toilets available – and your only options are to hold it in, not drink all day, or face the humiliation of wetting yourself. Without enough Changing Places toilets being more widely available in public places, disabled people face isolation. They may not leave the house, or they might cut outings short.”
You can read more about Carrie’s views and experiences in her fantastic blog.
What can you do?
Applications must come directly from the motorway service station or operator; you cannot nominate a service station or apply on their behalf. However, we would ask people to contact motorway service stations, particularly ones you might visit frequently when making a journey, and encourage them to apply for funding and provide a Changing Places toilet.