​Our Facebook and Twitter news feeds are full of images of bare feet in public toilets to raise awareness of the need for better changing and toilet facilities for people with disabilities.

Emma Hodges is the mastermind behind this thought-provoking challenge that’s really gaining momentum on social media.

Emma is a mum to two young very busy boys. She has worked at a special needs school for children with physical needs for 13 years and has helped many families in the home environment.

Last year, she took a job as team leader for Alfie who is 9 years old and has Cerebral Palsy. She has known Alfie and his family since he was a year old. Alfie’s mum, Samantha Buck is a well known name in campaigning circles and recently presented at the first Changing Places conference.

Samantha campaigns in many areas to improve access for disabled people today and for future generations. The Changing Places campaign is Samantha’s main focus.

Changing Places toilets are different to standard accessible toilets (or “disabled toilets”) as they have extra features and more space to meet the needs of people who use them.

‘I have seen the massive impact the provision of appropriate toilet and changing facilities can make to a family’, said Emma.

‘It can make or break a day out, having the right facilities when they already have so many other things to think about, toilet access shouldn’t have to be one of them. I also used to plan the school trips and it was very limited to where had appropriate toilet facilities so the children could have comfort breaks and I found that very disheartening. Being able to use a toilet or access a changing bench to have personal needs taken care of is a basic need.’

Emma and Samantha had been discussing ideas on how they could help spread the word about Changing Places and really make the general public aware of this very real problem faced by special needs families and people with disabilities.

We wanted it to really make you think about how you would feel, get the public involved and encourage people to sign and share the petition. I said we need something that can be shared through social media, like the ice bucket challenge. So the #barefootchallenge was born! I thought many people wouldn’t take part if we said you had to do it in public toilets (but amazing people are!!) and that really is the point if you can’t even put your feet on a public toilet floor, how is it allowed and still happening that we have to lie a disabled person on a floor.’ Although Emma came up with the idea a few months ago she has been waiting until the right time to launch the challenge.

With the help of The Unmumsy Mum Facebook page the challenge was launched last week.

Families of disabled children and adults are already well aware of the challenges of attending to the personal needs of their loved one on a day out, however the aim of this campaign is to raise mainstream awareness of the difficulties encountered and highlight to businesses, decision makers, policy makers and politicians the real need for Changing Places and better provisions of Spaces to Change with adult height adjustable changing benches and overhead hoists in existing venues. Firefly Garden’s Space to Change Campaign awards businesses who make practical changes to their existing toilet facilities to better meet the needs of special needs families this can include replacing the existing baby change unit with a height adjustable adult length changing bench, providing a large private space for changing where existing disabled toilets are too small.

For more information on how your business could adapt it’s current facilities get in touch!

Please sign the petition to show your support.

The petition has received an additional 1500 signatures since the launch of the #barefootchallenge.

Start a #barefootchallenge by taking a photo of you own bare feet beside a toilet share it on your personal Facebook Page using the #barefootchallenge or via Twitter with the #tweetyourfeet .

Don’t forget to nominate at least 3 friends to take the challenge on. Keep up to date with the challenge on the Bare foot Facebook Page.

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