When someone listens to you, what does it mean?
When your life is a little different to what most people are used to it is often quite difficult to tell people what you need.
I am a naturally quiet sort, my idea of a great night involves relaxing and wearing pyjamas in the comfort of my lounge. I am not an “out there” sort of person.
But my son needs me to be.
So I have found out where he wants to go and what he wants to do and I have been asking those places to help. Some have responded in the ways which have become expected, often quite infuriating ways such as those which say they are already meeting the required minimum standard. Don’t we all love minimum standards? It is, after all, what you look for when buying a pair of shoes, or when choosing someone to build your extension. Isn’t it?
A couple have responded in ways which give me a little bit of hope that they care. They did not know before or they were “a little bit aware” but now they have more understanding they will look into the possibilities. That is a positive start. In an area where tourism plays such a large part in our economy I am hopeful that these places will do all they can.
Cornwall Services was different.
The manager, Alex Lawson, truly listened and I am sure that he felt it very deeply when he realised that a nine year old child could not use the toilet safely or with dignity. We did turn up with a lot of equipment and I am also sure that he understood how awful it is to have to walk through an area where people are eating and shopping with your toilet chair and a hoist.
We went to a wedding at the weekend (absolutely wonderful wedding, beautiful bride, groom pretty handsome too) and this is what we took.
When we visited Cornwall Services we also had a fold away bed and a carer (the aforementioned beautiful bride).
There is, I am sure you will agree, no possible way of entering any building discreetly with that lot!
So, Alex listened, he asked questions, he asked for information about where he could make enquiries. He also made it clear that he understood the importance and that he would look into it and take it to the management team.
Just a few weeks later he confirmed that they would be installing the necessary equipment and on Wednesday 22nd June we went along to celebrate the official opening of the first Space to Change toilet facility to be installed at a UK service station.
I made sure I was fully packed and ready to go. It was all rather strange and I felt a little bit like I had forgotten something.
This one fabric harness is all that we had to take with us today as we could hoist safely from wheelchair to changing bench, put this sling on and then hoist to the toilet.
Adam was way more excited today than a nine year old boy should ever be about being able to go out and use a toilet.
We took part in many photos, enjoyed lunch, had interviews with Pirate FM and Radio Cornwall, used the toilet and then enjoyed playing and chatting with our friends.
Several of Adam’s friends joined us for a photo, many others were already up a climbing wall at the time. Adam has a lot of friends who really care about him and they get upset when he can’t go out to places with them or when he can’t stay long. They were all very pleased to have him join them.
Adam had a great time. Because he could.
Adam had several drinks. Because he could.
He stayed till he was ready to go home. Because he could.
When he needed to “go”, he could.
Adam was relaxed and so was I.
None of our friends went to Cornwall Services today to use the toilet. That was certainly not their main plan.
They went out for lunch, planning to enjoy the climbing, the soft play area and to relax with friends. Being able to use a toilet made all that possible. I am fairly certain that our friends would not choose to meet there at all if there were no toilets.
And now, it is possible for Adam too.
So thank you, Cornwall Services, for providing so much more than just a toilet.
Thank you for showing my son that he matters.