Today is the day when most people will ditch their new year’s resolutions, that’s a bit depressing isn’t it!
But I am just as determined as I was when I set mine and am not going to be ditching it any time soon. In fact, I’d like to invite you to join me!
You see my New Year’s Resolution was to make a change to as many people’s lives as I can.
I just want to change attitudes and educate people about something very important so that they will make changes for as many people as possible.
How I intend to do that is by making sure as many people as possible know about the heart-breaking situation that my son and 1 in 260 other people are facing every single time they leave the safety of their own home, and I hope that by people knowing about it they will help me to make a change.
The situation I am talking about is my son being stripped of his dignity, having his health compromised and facing public humiliation every time he needs the toilet when he goes out with us.
You see my son is severely disabled, but that’s not the most important thing you need to know about him.
You should also know his name is William, he is almost 8, he loves reading books, enjoys swimming and finds the noise of someone walking on gravel hilarious!
His favourite joke is “how do you ask a cow to get out of the way? – Mooo-ve over” and he loves eating the froth off his Dads cappuccino!
But more than that, he becomes a disabled person who society hasn’t considered or catered for.
His disability is so severe he cannot stand up. He can’t sit up unless he has support. He can’t use his arms and he can’t talk.
Add all those things up and you soon realise one thing that is really difficult for him, is to tell us when he needs the toilet, but he is so determined to try and let us know!
Not only that, it’s very difficult for him to use a toilet when he’s not at home because he can’t stand up to pull his trousers down.
He can’t stand up to get onto the toilet. He can’t use his arms to support himself when he’s sitting on the toilet and he certainly can’t wipe himself when he’s finished.
I’m sorry to break it down to these most basic of terms but unless I do that people just don’t understand the full implications of what happens when William needs a wee.
At home, he has a hoist to help lift him onto a safe and clean changing bench where he can lay while we remove his clothes. His hoist can lift him from there onto the toilet and back again. He can lay safely whilst he is wiped and re-dressed and he can then be hoisted back into his chair.
But what about when we leave the house? Have you seen a hoist in a disabled toilet? Have you seen a large changing bench in there?
What do you think are his options when we are out? When he is in our local supermarket café being treated to the froth on his Dads cappuccino? When we are in a library choosing a book? When he is in the town picking some new swimming trunks?
He has 3 delightful options to choose from:
1. Lay on the toilet floor (if someone can help me lift him)
2. Lay in the back of the van (if someone can help me lift him)
3. Go home
Which would you pick?
There is a simple solution, and my New Year’s resolution is to tell as many people as possible about it!
Changing Places or Space to Change toilets provide the hoist and large changing table that would mean the difference between going home or staying out for the rest of the day.
Williams life would change immeasurably, he would be able to visit so many more places and stay there for as long as he wanted. Family life would change as we would no longer have to cut our days out short, ditch a trolley full of shopping or make excuses to friends for not accepting invitations to events.
The lives of well over ¼ million people would change, they would feel welcome in their communities.
They would be able to go shopping, visit a cinema, go swimming, or visit a holiday park. They’d be able to visit friends in hospital, or attend a doctor’s appointment, visit the library, or have a day out at a theme park.
All things we do without any thought or care for what might happen if we need a pee!
If these facilities were everywhere we would be able to concentrate on ensuring William has fun, gets to visit places other kids his age go to and we’d be able to do the things other families do. We’d have a life that isn’t time or location restricted.
So if you have already ditched your New Year’s Resolution, or if you fancy adding another one, resolve to tell as many people as you can about how the addition of two simple bits of equipment can change a life.
Maybe you could ask your MP or local supermarket if they know about this issue and if they’re willing to help make a change for William and other people in his situation.
You could also sign this petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/177423
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