I’m not an exhibitionist, in fact I’d say that I’m closer to prude, but I’ll do anything for my kids and so posting a photo of myself on the toilet didn’t seem a lot to give.

I was trying to help raise awareness of the need for Changing Places and Space to Change accessible toilets with benches and hoists for disabled people.

You see, my son can’t use the loo in the same way that I can.

Like hundreds of thousands of other people, he needs a hoist and changing bench too.

Otherwise he has to lie on filthy toilet floors to have his nappy changed.

He’s almost six years old and is not a baby and certainly does not consider himself one.

But the world doesn’t seem to care about that and generally only provides changing facilities for infants.

I am so sick of having to lay him on the toilet floor, dangerously lift him and listen to him beg me not to.

It’s soul-destroying and physically dangerous as well as genuinely depressing. 

I can’t protect my son from this indignity and danger and that is something I find really hard to deal with.

But I took the photo, not only because I am determined to change the world for my little boy, but because there are so many people in our situation who are genuinely suffering.

They deserve so much more.

And I believe the ridiculous stigma around using the toilet and the lack of education is making this a huge challenge.

Why are we so embarrassed to talk about using the loo?

I mean we all have to pee right?

It’s just more complex for some of us!

I was contacted by a wonderful lady the day that I took my toilet selfie.

She contacted me to tell her story as she had nowhere else to turn and was so desperately upset and so fed up too of being treated like a baby.

She is in her thirties, is a full time independent wheelchair user and is urinary incontinent due to her condition.

This is what happened to her.  

I got up as usual on Wednesday. There was nothing special about my day ahead. Just an average rainy day, so I was just going to potter about. I did remember that I had to pop to the GP's surgery at 9.30am to pick up a prescription though.

Oh joy, I thought. That means I'm going to get pretty wet, transferring and getting the wheelchair in and out of the car. But off I went.

When I got to the surgery, I realised that my nappy was pretty full. My mood was already dulling in the wet, then I started to get a little anxious.

I decided, 'screw it!’ Why should I wait until I get home and end up wetting my jeans and having to put on another clothes wash? I'll just go and ask if they have an adult changing table.

I was a nervous wreck as I went up to reception. I have never asked before. Twenty-six years I've been incontinent and I've never felt able to ask before. I always felt so ashamed. 

I spent 10 minutes trying to talk myself into it and I finally plucked up the courage. ‘Excuse me, Excuse me, Excuse me’ (I had to say that about five times as the desk is too high and I can't see over it in my wheelchair).

This is a difficult thing for me to ask, but is there any chance you have a changing place where I could have my nappy changed?'

I did it.

It was scary, but I asked.

The lady behind the reception desk was nice. 'Of course hun. There is an actual changing room. Just this way.'

I was amazed. Brilliant. How Brilliant! I wish I had asked before I followed her to the room. She opened the door and said: ‘There you go hun’. And there it was.

My heart sank.

In front of me was a cabinet, with a tiny baby-changing mat on top of it. That was it.

I wanted the ground to swallow me up. How on earth was I supposed to be changed on that???

Is that what this person thought of me, that I was a baby? Or did she think I had a baby with me? Surely she could see I was alone? What do I do now? 

I left. 

I was in floods of tears by the time I got home and my nappy had leaked.

The whole incident left me feeling so rubbish.

It's not that this woman was trying to be unkind, she clearly had no idea what I was talking about, but it has made me feel so down and so unimportant.

My self-confidence has been shredded. I will never ask anyone again.

****

When she told me this I just had to do something.

I had to try to help and raise some more awareness.

I don’t want this lovely young woman, whom I’ve never met before, to endure being treated like a second-class citizen.

To be made to feel so hideous. To be degraded and discriminated against and humiliated in this way. 

I have no idea if anyone will join in and take these selfies. But I really hope so.

We’ve had ‘no make up selfies’ and ‘ice bucket challenges’ and all sorts of other social media campaigns that have made so much money for so many incredible charities.

I’m not asking for donations or pledges. We don’t need money. We need change!

My photo won’t save lives. But I hope it might just help to change some.

We are all only one accident away from needing these facilities.

Please help me raise awareness and break this stigma about toilets that is making it so hard to make ourselves heard.

Toilets are not glamorous or deemed newsworthy, so we rarely get this campaign in the public eye. The media don’t seem to be that interested in this widespread problem that is hurting our loved ones.  

But perhaps if this campaign takes off it might make a difference.

A simple photo of you doing something that most of us take for granted could change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who do not have that luxury.

The small amount of indignity you might feel taking a photo like this, is nothing compared to the indignity suffered by lying on a urine-soaked toilet floor. I promise you that.

The next time you spend a penny, take a selfie.

Nominate your friends. #weallneedtopee #changingplaces #spacetochange

Thank you. 

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