The campaign for more Changing Places toilets has been given a big boost with two exciting developments from the Government.
Today – on Changing Places Awareness Day – we are delighted to announce that changes will be made to legislation to make Changing Places toilets mandatory in new, large public buildings in England.
On top of that, more funding will be made available to install Changing Places toilets at 37 motorway service stations.
What are Changing Places toilets?
Changing Places toilets have more room than a standard accessible toilet, with specialist equipment such as an adult-sized changing bench and a hoist system.
They are needed by more than a quarter of a million people in the UK, including people with muscle-wasting conditions.
Without access to Changing Places toilets, more than a quarter of a million people may not go out, will limit fluid intake, or will have to be changed on a toilet floor.
What does this mean?
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Transport made the announcement, which states that Changing Places toilets must be included in new public buildings, including shopping centres, sports stadiums and arts venues
The major change to guidance for building rules in England will require the addition of large (12m2) and well-equipped accessible toilet facilities to be designed and built from next year.
The Government estimates this will result in facilities in more than 150 new buildings a year. A £30m fund to install Changing Places in existing buildings was also announced in the Budget.
Shopping centres, supermarkets, cinemas, stadia and arts venues are just some of the buildings that will be required to include at least one Changing Places toilet.
Building Accessibility Minister Lord Greenhalgh said:
For too long, the lack of Changing Places toilets has meant that severely disabled people have faced severe difficulties in attending public places.
Changing Places toilets give disabled people and their carers the space and equipment they need to have the confidence to leave their homes and go out.
We are making the installation of these toilets compulsory in hundreds of new public buildings in years to come to help bring major, life enhancing freedoms to the more than 250,000 people who need them.
The Department for Transport, in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK, has also announced £1.27m to install 37 more Changing Places toilets at service stations across England.
With this latest round of funding, 87 of England’s 118 service stations will be set to have a Changing Places toilet. This investment is part of the Government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy.
Transport Accessibility Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:
It is hard to overstate the importance of something as simple as an accessible area for the over 250,000 people nationwide who have a severe disability.
I want everyone to have the confidence to travel by any means so it is incredibly important for us to work with Muscular Dystrophy UK to provide Changing Places facilities at the majority of service stations in England.
What do we think?
As co-chairs of the Changing Places Consortium, we are delighted more Changing Places toilets will be available.
We know there is still work to do in our campaign for more Changing Places toilets. But news like this shows we have come such a long way.
This Changing Places Awareness Day, we want to recognise everything that has been achieved in the past 12 months. This includes:
- 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
Rob Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:
This is huge news for the quarter of a million people in the UK who need Changing Places toilets. Having access to these much-needed facilities increases independence and improves quality of life. The changes to legislation will make it easier for disabled people and their families to enjoy activities that many take for granted, whether that’s a day at a shopping centre or attending a concert. And the funding for the motorway service stations means people can travel knowing a facility will be available en route.
None of this would have been possible without the hard work of our wonderful campaigners. Thanks to everyone working together, we have taken a big step towards ensuring Changing Places toilets will be more widely available to everyone who needs them and to tackling the exclusion people face.
What do our campaigners think?
Kerry Thompson, from Milton Keynes, is a Changing Places toilets user and Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Campaigner of the Year. She said:
This is incredible news. Having access to more Changing Places toilets means freedom. Not just for myself but the 250,000 other disabled people and their families. Having this much-needed change to building regulations guidance will make life easier and more fulfilling. It opens up a whole new world for everyone that needs these life-changing facilities. All these changes are helping myself and thousands of others to live the life that we choose, not one that is chosen for us.
Two integral campaigners in the campaign for facilities at motorway service stations are Tony Clough and Zack Kerr, who collected 160,000 signatures via two petitions.
Zack’s stepdad, Ceri Davies, said:
This announcement today is very welcome news, especially coming on Changing Places Awareness Day. It is almost three years since Zack decided to start his petition, following our distressing and long motorway journey from Accrington to Swansea. The support he received for his petition and campaign was incredible, as was the speed of response from the Government with the Department for Transport announcing the £2m of funding.
This is nothing short of life changing for a quarter of a million people like me in the UK, who need the equipment and space provided in a Changing Places room in order to have dignity when we need the toilet.
It is brilliant that we can make this announcement on Changing Places Awareness Day, as it will be such great news for Changing Places users and campaigners all over the country. I expect all of them, like me, have spent many months in lockdown when we haven’t been able to get out and about. With these new Changing Places facilities on our motorway network, we will have far more choice of places we can travel to without having to worry about needing the toilet and having to go back home.
How can you get involved this Changing Places Awareness Day?