The 500th Changing Places fully accessible disabled toilet has been opened at The O2 in London.
More than 200,000 people across the UK benefit from the toilets which are used by people who need assistance and special equipment in order to go to the loo, such as people severe and profound learning disabilities and people with other severe disabilities, including spinal injuries and acquired brain injuries.
Key milestone for Changing Places
The 500th toilet at The O2 is a key milestone for the Changing Places campaign, which for the past seven years has been calling for an increase in the numbers of fully accessible toilets in public places so that the people who need them can enjoy the same freedoms as everyone else.
Paralympian Ade Adepitan is supporting the campaign and said: "It was amazing to see so many disabled people cheering on team GB at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games last summer. The fact that specially designed Changing Places toilets were available helped make this possible.
"Without them, many people simply wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go along. 500 is a great landmark, but we need thousands to make a real difference.”
'Make life so much easier'
The 500th toilet was formally opened by pop music fan Hannah James from Greenwich (pictured). The team at The O2 also arranged for Hannah and her Personal Assistant Julie Lofthouse to enjoy the sold-out The Big Reunion show, which featured performances from 5ive, B*Witched and Blue.
Hannah said: “A toilet opening might seem like a weird thing to get excited about but having access to one of these is a huge deal to people like me who have to worry and stress-out about when and where the next toilet stop will be. They make life so much easier.
Undignified and unsuitable conditions
Changing Places toilets are larger than a standard disabled toilet and include a height-adjustable changing bench, a hoist and room for up to two carers. Where these toilets are not available, the only option for carers and families is often to change and care for their loved ones in highly undignified and unsuitable conditions, such as toilet floors.
The Changing Places Consortium, which runs the Changing Places campaign, consists of Mencap, PAMIS, Nottingham City Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, the Scottish Government and the Centre for Accessible Environments.
For more information on the Changing Places campaign for fully accessible disabled toilets visit www.changing-places.org.uk