Crawley Borough Council has officially opened what is believed to be the first hoist-assisted toilet at a leisure attraction in the area, at Tilgate Park.

The venue, acknowledged as being the area’s “jewel in the crown’ with its nature reserve, fishing, lakes, gardens and forest adventure experience, already welcomes over one million visitors a year. 

By opening the first Space to Change wheelchair-accessible toilet with changing bench and hoist, Tilgate Park will now be accessible to even more visitors.

The Space to Change enhances a conventional wheelchair-accessible toilet by also incorporating an adult-sized changing bench and hoist, supplied and installed by the UK’s leading away from home accessible toilet solutions company, Clos-o-Mat.

The improved toilet facilities form part of a five-year development plan for Tilgate Park, which includes improvements to parking, the access road, and paths.

Explained Vikki Fold, Crawley Borough Council’s community development officer, “At a youth event, a teenage wheelchair-user said there needed to be more hoist-assisted toilets in Crawley.

Tilgate is having development work done, and the existing wheelchair-accessible WC was big enough to accommodate the extra equipment, so we thought it would be a good idea to tie it in.

We are committed to doing what is right for local residents and visitors, without damaging the Park.”

Added Samantha Buck, local campaigner for hoist-assisted toilet facilities, “If you care for someone who is in a wheelchair, if they are bigger than a baby, you will probably need a hoist to lift them.

Without it, you can’t use the toilet facilities and have to either cut your visit short, or not go at all. A hoist takes up no space, but makes such a difference to families like mine.

It means we can go out and about, spend time- and money- at a venue, and relax knowing we can all access suitable toilet facilities.”

A Space to Change toilet takes a standard ‘Document M’ wheelchair accessible toilet, adds more space to it (if required) to achieve a minimum 7.5m2, and an adult-sized changing bench and hoist.

Under British Standards, Changing Places are in addition to that standard wheelchair-accessible toilet, at least 12m2 (3m x 4m), and include a ceiling track hoist and height-adjustable adult-sized changing bench.

Campaigners experienced that many venues could not allocate the additional space, funds required, so devised Space to Change as a compromise, which still delivers the equipment they need.

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