More than 200 people took part in a flash mob with a difference on October 11. The Changing Places ‘flush mob’ descended on Trafalgar Square to raise awareness of the Changing Places toilet campaign and the need for more fully accessible disabled toilets in London.
Campaigners gathered in Trafalgar Square, before suddenly raising toilet brushes in the air – many of them decorated for the occasion. They then froze for three minutes as passers-by looked on.
The Changing Places campaign calls for more Changing Places toilets in public places, so that people with profound and multiple learning disabilities can access the same opportunities as everyone else.
A Changing Places toilet is larger than a standard disabled toilet and includes a height-adjustable changing bench, a hoist and room for up to two carers. Changing Places toilets also benefit people with other mobility issues, such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy or acquired brain injuries.
Currently there are only 29 Changing Places toilets in Greater London, and only one of London’s top 10 tourist attractions has one. Additionally, there are no fully accessible toilets in the shopping hubs of Oxford Circus or Westfield or at any of the five busiest railway stations in the capital.
As a result, many disabled people and their carers are forced to change their loved ones on toilet floors or to have to stay at home.
Leroy Binns, who has a learning disability and works at Mencap, was one of the flush mob campaigners. “So many disabled people and their families were able to enjoy the sporting events at the Olympic Park during London 2012, because there were fully accessible toilets and facilities,” he said.
“But across the whole of Greater London, there are only 29 Changing Places toilets. No-one should have to be cared for while lying on a filthy, cramped toilet floor, or be forced to stay at home, because there isn’t a suitable toilet for them to use. We want disabled people to be able to enjoy the sights and events that London has to offer just like everyone else.”