On July 19th 2016 the Changing Places campaign will mark 10 years of campaigning.
Just a few weeks later the Ordinary Boy will celebrate 10 years of being here, lighting up the world.
Just where should we go to celebrate this momentous day? Hmmm…
I know many places that he would like to go. He has asked this week to go to a couple of places. Would you believe it they were “closed” yet again! No, I don’t think he believes me either but I don’t want to hurt him any more than he must already hurt.
I know how much it hurts me to know this stuff. He shouldn’t hurt because of it.
How would it feel to drive 40 minutes to an attraction, to know there is some good stuff to see, but have to miss it all because YOU need the toilet? YOU, yet again, are the “problem”.
No, I cannot let him keep feeling this way. I will not let him feel this way.
So I will keep asking (begging and pleading, and will do so through a solicitor if I have to) in order to ensure that my son can live life feeling that he is not a problem which needs dealing with. He does not have “a situation” (thanks Lands End for that one!) he is just a boy who needs to pee.
If an attraction had no toilets for you to use would you just see it as your problem because you are the one who needs to “go” or would you see the lack of toilets as the problem and see it as something which the attraction should rectify?
People with the need for a hoist and a changing bench have not only just arrived on the planet. They have been here long before me. People just haven’t seen them out and about BECAUSE IT IS TOO DIFFICULT!!! And it probably hasn’t been talked about much because, quite simply, it isn’t nice to have to explain your toilet needs in depth to strangers.
I have been really touched at all the kind comments left on the Lands End Facebook page (swiftly deleted by the attraction, despite all being polite) and on my blog posts. It is particularly touching when you read a comment from someone who has no need for a hoist or bench in a toilet but who utterly supports that the facilities should be provided.
Just where do monkeys come in?
In the midst of Lands End treating disabled people in a manner which suggests they would prefer to sweep them away as easily as they do with Facebook comments, I was amazed and impressed to be contacted by a small monkey sanctuary, Wild Futures.
The difference here?
They contacted me!
Without being directly asked, they just heard through social media that there are people who cannot go out much simply because regular “disabled toilets” were no use to them.
They heard that people needed something more to enable them to go out, so they got in touch to find out more! Did you hear that #LandsEnd-landmark?
Without being asked a small charity with relatively little land and little income, one which exists just to look after monkeys, cares enough about all people to want to try to be more accessible.
Since starting Ordinary Hopes I am discovering more and more people for whom a typical disabled toilet does not work for. These people don’t need the hoist or the bench but they do need to turn a wheelchair, close the door and be able to get from their chair to the toilet.
I don’t know if they will find a way. I have no idea what size their current facilities are. I wouldn’t know as we have not been able to go. Wild Futures did not know what was needed because nobody had told them before. Yet somehow, we are all learning from each other and keen to help make life better.
I am particularly impressed to learn that Wild Futures does not have an active breeding programme. They believe that the focus should be on keeping monkeys in the wild, where they belong and do the best they can for those monkeys who will never be able to return to the wild and those who don’t even know that “the wild” exists.
I spotted this little chap on the Wild Futures website – Joey
Click on “Joey” and you will see why I had to adopt him for my own little miracle.
I hope that one day we will be able to visit Joey. I have every faith that, if there is a way, Wild Futures will find it.
I also hope that many other places will start to realise that, not only is it the right thing to do, not only is it the law that reasonable adjustments must be made (do you consider it a reasonable expectation that you can use a toilet on a day out) but it also makes excellent business sense to ensure that people with disabilities can visit too.
The “purple pound”, as it is known, is a market now worth £12.4bn to England’s tourism industry. How many organisations are missing out?