Changing places change lives.
That may sound extreme but if you need the toilet and can only use one which provides a bench and hoist then it really is life changing if you can go somewhere that provides just that.
There are now 1019 changing places toilets across the UK but there is still a long way to go before families who need one can live their lives as freely as families who don’t.
We think these ten places should provide changing places toilets, because it really would change lives if they did.
We’ve all been to the cinema to see the latest blockbuster on a rainy Sunday, haven’t we?
We fill up on popcorn and guzzle a gallon of fizzy drinks which means we are usually desperate for a pee when the movie is over, if we’ve managed to last that long.
Currently none of our national cinema chains (Cineworld, Vue, Odeon) provide changing places toilets, which means that anyone who needs one simply cannot go to the cinema.
Cinema chains realise this as they actively promote disability friendly screenings.
The lack of a suitable toilet should not be the barrier stopping people from participating in an otherwise accessible day out.
Imagine you are half way through your food shop and you need a wee, most of us would just leave our trolley in the aisle for a minute and nip to the loo.
But if you need a changing places toilet you may have to leave your trolley and its contents in the aisle and leave the shop completely.
Shopping is one activity we all do regularly and although the option for home delivery is available, it should be just that. An option. Not our only option.
3. Department stores
Most town centres have at least one department store these days. Whether it is Marks & Spencers, John Lewis or Debenhams.
Many of these stores have cafes or restaurants for their customers which encourages them to stay a little longer and spend a little more money.
Without a toilet, many of us would be likely to leave after visiting their café rather than spend time in the store and perhaps spend some cash.
So those toilets are provided for a financial benefit to the business. But right now, anyone who needs a changing places toilet wouldn’t have that option.
We would have to leave, and probably wouldn’t return to spend our money.
The addition of a changing places toilet in large department stores would mean that people could spend more time in their local town as a whole, something we’d love to see big businesses encourage now that our high streets are on the decline.
4. Holiday parks
Families who need changing places toilets are facing daily battles and struggles and should probably be right at the top of the list of people who deserve a holiday.
But even at places such as Center Parcs or Butlins, where we expect there to be something for the whole family, these families are unable to really relax and unwind.
5. Leisure centres
This is obvious really but if you are going for a swim, hopefully you wouldn’t pee in the pool!
But without a changing places toilet it is pretty impossible for some people to go for a wee before they get in the water.
We’ll leave it at that!
It is unbelievable that our hospitals don’t have changing places toilets as standard. Nurses and doctors working in hospitals are not allowed to lift patients.
Professionals such as physios and occupational therapists work with families to ensure equipment is in place so that they don’t lift their loved ones.
So disabled people have no choice but to be manually lifted if they need the toilet during a visit or stay. And then there’s the little issue of infection control and toilet floors!
Most people usually plan their long journeys to include a coffee stop, maybe a bite to eat and definitely, a trip to the loo.
However, there are very few motorway services which provide a changing places toilet even though people who need one are often making long journeys to and from hospitals or therapy centres.
Without a changing places toilet at motorway service centres many disabled people are resorting to with-holding fluids on a long journey simply because they can’t risk needing a wee.
8.Zoos & theme parks
Or anywhere you would go to spend a day out with the family. Places like zoos are designed so that visitors can stay all day.
They provide restaurants and cafes, picnic areas and playgrounds. Things to keep the whole family entertained.
And of course, anywhere you spend more than a few hours will inevitably require a toilet trip.
We cannot expect to have access to a changing places toilet on a train, let’s face it, they can’t even get a standard accessible toilet right on a train.
But stations which provide toilets for other passengers should certainly be providing changing places facilities.
After all those most vulnerable passengers simply can’t hold it in and shouldn’t be expected to sit in their own mess for a long journey.
All town centres should have at least one changing places toilet. It should be funded by the council and should be in a central location.
If the council can only fund one toilet facility for local residents, it should be a changing places toilet. Because that is the ONLY type of facility which is suitable for ALL local people to use.
So even in times when councils are closing public toilets across the country, they should ensure at least one remains, and it should be a changing places toilet.
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