A group of people representing the Changing Places campaign took part in ‘The Big Squat – a movement for the toilet-less’ yesterday to raise awareness of the need for more accessible toilets.
Thirteen people squatted for 1 minute at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of the ‘The Big Squat’, which was part of 51 events that took place in more than 19 countries for World Toilet Day.
The stunt helped to raise awareness of the need for more Changing Places toilets in the UK. Standard disabled toilets do not meet the needs of thousands of people, including those with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, older people affected by incontinence and the 40,000 people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD). Without adequate facilities, families have to change the person they care for on a cramped and dirty toilet floor. The alternative is to limit outings to a few short hours, or not go out at all. Changing Places toilets have a height-adjustable changing bench, a hoist and plenty of space and can make all the difference to someone with PMLD.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park already has 2 Changing Places facilities, with another 4 planned. The London Legacy Development Corporation, which owns the Park, is committed to securing a strong Paralympic legacy following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.
“Imagine having to change your son, daughter or partner on the floor of a public toilet,” said Clare Lucas, activism lead at Mencap. “Most of us would agree this is unhygienic, undignified and unacceptable. Sadly, there are thousands of disabled people and families who do not need to imagine. For them, this is a daily reality where they are forced to choose between this or becoming prisoners in their own home.
“By doing the squat in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park we are hoping to make the message clear that these facilities are crucial in terms of enabling 2.5 million people worldwide to use the toilet and also access their communities.
“We are encouraging as many of our supporters from across the country to take part in whatever way they can, sharing their photos and stories with us via email and social media. There are now 565 Changing Places toilets around the UK that we know of, and most of them have been built because people campaigned for them to be installed.”
Dennis Hone, chief executive of the London Legacy Development Corporation, added: “It is important that all visitors to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park are able to enjoy the facilities. Creating a strong Paralympic legacy is important, from the events that take place at the Park to the facilities that are on offer, we want the Park to be fully accessible. The Changing Places toilets are an important part of this legacy and we are pleased to host this event.”