I’ve always been determined to make sure the venues I manage are as accessible as possible.
For me, this meant providing the obvious assets, such as ramps, hearing loops etc., and ensuring the customer service staff were well-trained to offer the appropriate assistance when necessary. I guess I thought I was doing a good job, however this all changed.
I attended a friend’s party one evening and got talking to other guests, many who I was meeting for the first time. Naturally, the conversation progressed to us discussing our occupations. I explained that I was Operations Manager at Cadbury World followed by asking the guests if they themselves had visited. On this occasion I met with a very blunt response, “No, we can’t. Our daughter has a physical disability and therefore requires space and a hoist to be able to use the toilet. We can’t visit because she has nowhere to go to the toilet”.
To say I was somewhat embarrassed was an understatement! It was then my mission to change this situation.
In 2012 we refurbished the reception toilets at Cadbury World and introduced our Changing Places facility. Installing this facility has not only improved the access facilities at Cadbury World, but drastically improved the visitor experience for many of our guests as those who require the facilities a Changing Places provides rarely visit alone.
Whilst it’s difficult to give exact numbers we have definitely seen a sustained increase in access visitors to Cadbury World and we’re certain many more people visit us today simply because we provide a day out with access a Changing Places facility. Rest assured, if you have an accessible venue and also have Changing Places installed the number of disabled visitors will increase, along with your reputation.
I simply do not understand why any venues would have a reluctance to invest in Changing Places toilets, citing lack of use makes no sense. If you do not have CP toilets how you could possibly know how many people would use them as those that require the facility simply cannot visit those venues. In my opinion, it should be law that attractions and venues have a Changing Places installed and thus make themselves accessible to those that need the facility.
Even if one person uses our CP toilet then it has been worthwhile as we have provided a day out to a person that could not have visited otherwise. It really is that important. Providing the appropriate access facilities, like a CP toilet, really does change lives by offering days out and enjoyment to visitors that have limited options otherwise.
I'm extremely proud of our CP facility and even after a number of years it still looks as good as the day it opened. We are proud to set an example for other attractions and public venues to follow as I believe we were one of the first to install a CP room.
Many of the visitors or families that have now been able to visit Cadbury World because we have CPT definitely show their appreciation. We regularly receive specific thanks and feedback as such.
The family I met at my friend’s party have now visited a number of times, as have many of their friends and other families they know.