Tesco has committed to building Changing Places toilets in selected stores, we can announce today.
The retailer has been working with the Changing Places Consortium – which is co-chaired by Muscular Dystrophy UK – and OpeMed – which co-sponsors the campaign – to provide Changing Places toilets in target areas where there is the greatest need.
By March 2019, Tesco will have installed more than 30 new Changing Places toilets across the UK. Three new fully-accessible toilets are now open at Ryde Extra, Fareham Superstore and Aylesbury Superstore, joining existing facilities in Milton Keynes Kingston Extra, Slough Extra, Stourbridge Extra and Calne Superstore.
What does this mean for the Changing Places campaign?
The news comes at an exciting time for the Changing Places toilet campaign. Last month, the government announced it would be consulting on making Changing Places toilets mandatory in new, large public buildings. It also said it would provide £2 million of funding for Changing Places toilets in NHS hospitals – the same amount that is being plugged into Changing Places toilets at motorway service stations.
Tesco is the second major retailer to pledge to build more Changing Places toilets. In 2017, IKEA committed to providing Changing Places facilities in all new stores, and to upgrade accessible facilities in selected existing stores.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the dedication of Changing Places toilet campaigners, who have pushed tirelessly for facilities to be more widely available and for changes to legislation. All of their hard work is paying off.
Muscular Dystrophy UK welcomes Tesco’s commitment to building more Changing Places toilets.
Rob Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, says:
Having access to Changing Places toilets gives disabled people greater independence, and we are delighted that Tesco has committed to installing more than 30 facilities in the UK this year. Having the support of such a high-profile retailer is an encouraging step forward in our campaign and we hope other retailers and venues will follow suit.
Like everyone else, disabled people go shopping, travel to work and meet their friends, but a lack of Changing Places toilets can leave them isolated. By building more Changing Places toilets, we can help to tackle the exclusion they face.
Changing Places campaigner Kerry Thompson, from Milton Keynes, has been working with Tesco on the project. She said:
Sharing my story with Tesco and being part of this truly amazing project has been a privilege. By being involved from the start, I’ve seen how passionate everyone involved has been in bringing this scheme to life. For a company as big as Tesco to recognise the lack of Changing Places toilets available for disabled people just like me shows how much they care.
A Tesco spokesperson said:
We were keen to meet with Kerry and when we heard her story we wanted to help. It’s clear how important Changing Places toilets are to our customers who need them, so we’re pleased to be installing more facilities in the coming year. We treat each store on a case-by-case basis and wherever possible we will try to accommodate them and help customers such as Kerry.
Nick Kent, Managing Director of OpeMed and Co-Founder of Aveso, which sponsors the Changing Places toilet campaign, said:
The commitment by Tesco to install so many Changing Places toilets significantly moves the goalposts for these vital facilities in the retail sector. Aveso and OpeMed are proud to have taken part and supported this roll-out programme over the last 18 months and look forward to the next phase over the coming year.
I have personally learnt that a project of this size can have its challenges, and I would like to thank the team at Tesco and Harvey Shopfitters for pushing the boundaries in the last year to achieve this roll-out. Kerry Thompson with her real-life explanations and measured sensitive persuasion has also been instrumental in bringing this project to life. There are not enough Changing Places toilets currently in retail but well done, Tesco and Kerry, for taking us towards a more inclusive future.
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