More motorway service stations across England are set to install Changing Places toilets thanks to funding from the Department for Transport (DfT).
Today, we can announce that 22 service stations will initially receive funding to build Changing Places facilities. We have also launched a second round of funding applications, which are open to service stations on motorways and A-roads.
Catherine Woodhead, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:
Too many disabled people and their families are excluded from doing things that others take for granted because there are not enough Changing Places. We’re delighted that, thanks to the DfT’s funding, 22 service stations will be installing these facilities. This will make it easier for a quarter of a million people to go on holiday, enjoy a day out with friends, or simply visit the shops.
But our work doesn’t stop here. Every service station needs a Changing Places toilet, and we would encourage those who haven’t done so already to apply for funding in the next round of applications.
What are Changing Places toilets?
Changing Places toilets are needed by more than a quarter of a million disabled people in the UK. They include a height-adjustable changing bench and an overhead track or mobile hoist. Changing Places toilets are also larger than standard accessible toilets, but there is a need for both types of these facilities.
You can find out more about Changing Places here.
Which service stations will be installing Changing Places?
The map below shows where the Changing Places toilets will be situated, and where there are existing Changing Places.
You can also view a list of current and future providers here.
We welcomed the involvement of the Centre for Accessible Environments in reviewing the motorway service station floorplans to identify any accessibility issues that needed to be addressed.
Why is this campaign needed?
Without enough Changing Places toilets, disabled people are isolated. We hear stories of people not leaving their homes, cutting trips short, having to be changed on dirty toilet floors, and even considering surgery when these fully accessible facilities are unavailable.
Thanks to the efforts of Changing Places campaigners and the Changing Places Consortium, the DfT’s funding will make it easier for disabled people and their families to use the road network. Two integral campaigners in this process are Tony Clough and Zack Kerr, who collected 160,000 signatures via two petitions.
This is great news, which will be welcomed by so many people, their families and friends. It is gratifying to know that the motorway service station operators are committed to improving the customer service offering with regards to Changing Places. These new locations on our motorway network will undoubtedly make travel a far less daunting prospect for thousands.
This is great news because people like me can go out and about on holiday and for days out and they won’t have to worry about not finding a Changing Places toilet. It is good that these new facilities will also be listed on the Changing Places app, so that people can find them easily. I would like to thank all the motorway operators who have listened to my campaign and applied for some funds to build more Changing Places, especially RoadChef who have now committed to installing 13 more Changing Places at their service stations. I am also very pleased that Moto will be installing one in their service station at Knutsford, because this was the first service station I visited when I recorded my journey to London at the start of my campaign.
Ceri Davies, Zack’s stepdad, said:
This announcement today marks a big milestone in the campaign for accessible Changing Places toilets. It means that in 2020 we should see the number of fully accessible toilets on our UK motorway network almost double. When Zack started his campaign in August 2017, there were just 12 Changing Places toilets on the entire UK motorway network. Zack’s campaign quickly raised awareness of this desperate need. We were delighted that the government and the Department for Transport listened and took action, and subsequently made the £2million funds available.
What can you do?
Muscular Dystrophy UK is always looking to hear from people willing to share their experiences and stories of using Changing Places. You can do this here.
If you are a motorway service station provider, you can apply for funding here.