There’s a really simple way to put a smile on the faces of hundreds of thousands of people with needs: give them changing places.
Most people don’t give a second thought to whether they’ll be able to use the loo away from home. But what if you can’t ‘go’ without help- be it from people or equipment?
I think about it. Originally because of my job, it has become a vocation- to help a myriad of enterprises become accessible and provide Changing Places.
There’s something so worthwhile being part of something that makes a world of difference to the countless people in the UK- and worldwide- who can’t use conventional wheelchair-accessible toilets.
It’s hard to come up with a definitive figure for the number of people, regardless of age, gender, orientation, who need Changing Places. Whatever figure is arrived at, it is not the final figure.
What about carer(s), friends, family? Provision of Changing Places benefits them too: as campaigner Sam Buck highlighted, what happens if she needs the loo when out with her son Alfie, who needs a Changing Places? Is she supposed to leave him, alone in his wheelchair, outside the ‘ladies’? She needs the facilities of a Changing Places too, for her son’s safety and security, and her privacy and dignity.
Momentum is growing, thanks to the efforts of the thousands of campaigners worldwide, people like Tony Clough, who has gone above and beyond, not just in the UK but abroad, to highlight the need.
It’s not just venues that need to know about Changing Places; it’s potential users too! Many people still feel trapped at home, unable to go out for long in case they need to address intimate care needs, because they don’t KNOW that there ARE solutions.
Increasingly, venues are proving where there’s a will, there IS a way. From big brands and High St names we all know- like IKEA, Wetherspoons, Roadchef, Alton Towers and Legoland- to the smaller venues many of you haven’t even heard of, such as The LookOut, Sandy Lane Aqua Park.
The old arguments of space and cost are being refuted time and again, often by the individual organisations that you would imagine have the least ability to address the need. The Honey Pot, Cornwall Services, Longdown Activity Farm, Lost Gardens of Heligan are just a few cases in point(*).
That such venues prove it’s not hard to be inclusive gives us heart to carry on, and continue our efforts to change the world, to be more accessible.
It also proves that the need is being more widely recognised.
It further proves there really isn’t any excuse not to change places….
(*) if you want to know more about how these helped change the world for disabled people, have a look at the case study section of our website https://www.closomat.co.uk/index.php/home-page/case-studies/changing-places-cs.html)