Today is World Toilet Day, an annual event that raises much-needed awareness for the 2.6 billion people globally who don’t have access to toilets – nearly half the world’s population.
World Toilet Day marks the perfect opportunity to reiterate the urgent need for more Changing Places toilets, used by more than a quarter of a million disabled people across the UK.
What are Changing Places toilets?
Changing Places toilets are fully accessible facilities, bigger than standard toilets and vital for people with muscle-wasting conditions, cerebral palsy, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis.
Having access to a Changing Places toilets increases independence and improves quality of life because everyone should be entitled to use the toilet when they need to. When places like railway stations, restaurants, pubs and cafés do not have any facilities, it can leave disabled people feeling increasingly isolated.
Muscular Dystrophy UK co-chairs the Changing Places Consortium. We believe and campaign for every disabled person to be able to access a toilet that meets their needs.
Many have been forced to consider options as extreme as surgery, staying indoors, or having to be changed on dirty, unhygienic toilet floors that are unsuitable for their needs. This can make a day out with friends or getting to work a distressing ordeal.
Why are Changing Places toilets so important?
One person who knows all too well how vital Changing Places facilities are is teenager Tamsin England, who lives with cerebral palsy. Tamsin uses a wheelchair full-time and finds that many places are inaccessible to her because of a lack of accessible toilet facilities.
In recent years Tamsin has undergone spinal surgery and now requires a ceiling hoist to lift her from her wheelchair to a height-adjustable, adult-sized, changing bench so that she can lie down to prepare for toileting. It means Changing Places facilities make the world of difference for days out with her family.
Her mum Karen said:
“It is not fair that Tamsin cannot go out and enjoy socialising. Until Changing Places are commonplace, we have to do toilet research before we can visit anywhere new. All too often, research is fruitless; showing there is no usable toilet.
“Our daughter deserves better. We deserve better. No one should be denied the opportunity to go out simply because of a lack of accessible toilets – especially when the solution is so simple.”
What is being done to help?
In July this year the government announced an exciting milestone that will make planning days out easier for families like Tamsin’s. Changes in legislation will be made to make Changing Places toilets mandatory in new, large public buildings in England. The government estimates this will result in Changing Places facilities in more than 150 new buildings a year.
On top of that, additional funding will be made available to install these toilets at 37 more motorway service stations, meaning 87 of England’s 118 service stations are set to have a Changing Places facility.
We know there is still work to do in our campaign for more Changing Places toilets, but this World Toilet Day, we want to recognise many of our moments that show how long a way we’ve come. These include:
- Continuing our partnership with Tesco to install more facilities at stores across the UK
- Working with various Government departments, including MHCLG, DfT and the Department of Health and Social Care, to make Changing Places toilets more available
- Pushing Premier League clubs and supermarkets to register toilets in two national campaigns
- Learning that the Government committed £30m for Changing Places toilets in existing buildings in England in its Budget
None of this would have been possible without the support and hard work of our wonderful campaigners.
What can you do today?
We would welcome your support in helping make a noise about Changing Places toilets today and every day. You can do this by:
If you have questions about the ongoing campaign please email email@example.com