More than 500 Changing Places toilets will be built in England, giving thousands of severely disabled people the chance to visit their local area and travel the country “with dignity and freedom”.
In total, 191 councils will receive a share of £23.5 million of government funding to install the specialised toilet facilities in public places where users want them most.
“A better chance to find a loo I can use and go about my day like everyone else”
Changing Places toilets are larger than regular accessible toilets and have equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches, and space for carers.
Sarah Rennie, 36, an accessibility consultant specialising in transport from Birmingham, has a muscle wastage conditions, cannot walk and is a wheelchair user.
Sarah is supported by a personal assistant and said she cannot use typical accessible toilets without a hoist or a changing bench as she cannot get from her wheelchair onto the toilet.
“This means that all too often, if I’m working in another city, attending a hospital appointment, or going to a festival, I can expect to wait 12 hours without accessing a toilet. This can make me feel ill and be quite painful.
“Changing Places toilets offer me – and my assistant – a safe and dignified alternative. It’s such a relief to know that there will be more of these throughout England which gives me a better chance to find a loo I can use and go about my day like everyone else,” she explains.
New facilities will be built in locations voted for by users of Changing Places toilets
The new facilities will be built in the top locations voted for by families, carers and users of Changing Places toilets.
Research by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers in 2021 found that country parks, open spaces, beaches, tourist attractions, motorway services and other transport networks were the most in demand locations for the toilets, as the journey to the destination is a key factor in planning a day out.
Following the results of the study, new facilities will be built in:
Public parks and open spaces
Tourist attractions including historic properties, seaside resorts and zoos
Museums, theatres, and galleries
Libraries and public buildings
An additional £6.5 million will be allocated in a further round later in 2022 and will focus on areas where there is little or no access to Changing Places toilets.
“Enabling people to enjoy everything their local area has to offer with dignity and freedom”
Ministerial Disability Champion Eddie Hughes MP said: “It goes without saying that people with severe disabilities, their families and carers should be able to go shopping, plan a day out or travel without needing to worry about whether they will have access to suitable toilet facilities.
“I am delighted that our funding today will help provide over 500 new Changing Places Toilets in England, enabling people to enjoy everything their local area has to offer with dignity and freedom.”