My name is Sarah Brisdion. Mum of premature twins. As a result, my son, Hadley, was diagnosed with quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy affecting his entire body, including his continence. As an infant, his needs were easily managed, much like his twin sister’s. But as Hadley got bigger and his disability became more evident, life started to become trickier for him and us as a family.
Once Hadley out-grew baby changing units, we were left in a shocking situation – one where, most of the time, I had no choice but to lie him on toilet floors to change his continence items when out. It was disgusting and soul-destroying for us both. Not to mention incredibly dangerous. The risk of dropping Hadley and causing him injury, whilst lifting him from his wheelchair to the floor and back up again, terrified me – and that has become more challenging as he has got older.
One day, after a particularly horrible experience, watching my disabled son sob on yet another toilet floor, I broke down. I was heartbroken, but I knew we couldn’t possibly be the only people in this situation. So I started researching. I discovered thousands of other people were going through the same degrading and undignified ordeals. Many of them were campaigning for special toilets called Changing Places, with hoists and adult-sized changing beds. These were the answer! Sadly though, there were not, and still aren’t, anywhere near enough of them.
So I started a local campaign, called Hadley’s Heroes, to raise awareness of the need for more Changing Places and to encourage businesses and local authorities to install them. I also help fundraise for facilities where they otherwise might not be possible. Now Hadley is older, he campaigns with me. He makes me incredibly proud. He has become a little star, regularly talking about his experiences in the national press.
There are now 11 new Changing Places facilities in our local area, including Longdown Activity Farm in the New Forest, Ikea, Southampton and Portsmouth International Port, with more on the way.
My name is Hadley, I am ten years old and I’m a full-time wheelchair user. Lying on toilet floors is horrible and it really hurts. It makes me feel really sad and excluded. When I go somewhere with a Changing Places, I can relax and enjoy myself, just like everyone else. Because disabled people like me shouldn’t have to stay at home because there isn’t a toilet we can use. I wish more places would install them. I will keep fighting with my mum to help people learn about Changing Places and see how important they are – until they are everywhere!