Earlier this year I was inspired by my son to actively try to make Cornwall more accessible. I had written letters and e-mails before but intermittently and without following them up. Now I needed to do more. Adam needed me to do more.
The first place I asked was Cornwall Services and I was so impressed with the response from their manager and the entire management team. They had not known what was needed but as soon as they did they wanted to make it right. Their response gave me the encouragement to do more.
Three months ago I decided to start writing things down in order to get the message of what is really needed out to a wider audience and as a way of documenting what I have been doing. I am thankful to Liz Barrett, who is a freelance writer, for her help and support in setting up Ordinary Hopes. I had no idea where to start but she made it sound possible and helped me get started.
Three months on seems a good time to look back to see if staying awake into the wee small hours most nights has been worthwhile.
What has been achieved?
Adam and I attended the opening of a brand new Space to Change toilet at Cornwall Services. This facility has made such a difference to so many people. I keep seeing posts on social media from families praising it and being thankful that it is there. We made a difference!
The Hall for Cornwall refurbishment will now include a Changing Places style toilet! It felt like a very difficult battle considering the enormous planned spend but huge numbers of people helped make it clear that these facilities are vital. It will be a long time before this one is up and running but we are looking forward to attending as a family once again.
Camel Creek Park in Wadebridge are trying to include the facilities in their budget for next year and hope to have a fully accessible toilet facility installed for the start of their summer 2017 season! I have not told Adam this yet but he will be thrilled! He is looking forward to visiting Camel Creek with a special girl – dating is hard when you can’t “go” when you go out!
I am absolutely thrilled with their interest as I did not directly approach them. I did “Tweet” them with my blog but I had not made direct contact. They got in touch with me saying that they thought they had great access but wanted to know more. A wonderful example of a business wanting to learn, knowing better and then doing better. I am so looking forward to helping promote this new accessible toilet!
A few years ago I would never have understood anyone saying that sentence!
The National Maritime Museum Cornwall is aware of what is needed. Adam was unable to join his home education group friends for a workshop, simply due to there being no properly accessible toilets. They are currently working with an architect to see how a one can be included in some further development plans. This place really does need better facilities. Many schools have educational visits and I know several mums who have had no other option than to lay their children on the floor of the “disabling toilet” in order to change their pads during these trips. It isn’t okay.
The initial response from the Lands End PR person was not great but the support from local people (and beyond) was incredible. It was so special to read posts on the Lands End Facebook page from people saying that, whilst they don’t personally need these facilities they are needed and they should be installed. Comments like this matter so much! Local radio and BBC Spotlight were very interested to feature the need for better facilities and I am thankful to them for putting me at ease as well as for the sensitive coverage.
Once the Directors at Lands End learned about the need they agreed to look into it and they have now identified a potential space to install the required facilities! A perfect example of people doing the right thing when they learn more.
We had one incident where we thought we could attend an event because they featured the Changing Places logo on their advertising poster. It was a long drive to leave again after just a short while. Thankfully we were able to go to Cornwall Services to use their facilities and stop for lunch. Adam would have been very disappointed and uncomfortable otherwise! The group who organised that event are now aware of what the logo means.
Adam and I took part in filming for Channel 4 news and I know it helped raise the profile of the Changing Places toilet campaign. Many people saw it who would not have thought about the issue before and many then made contact with Changing Places campaigners. Getting the message out to a wider audience is so important when it is something like this. Unless you are directly affected by it or you love someone who is, you cannot really be expected to know.
I have been in contacted with my local Tesco Extra store and have since been informed that Tesco is looking into the possibility of providing these facilities in more of their stores. Many people across the country have been asking them for this.
The Theatres Trust announced a scheme to improve toilet facilities for women at ten theatres across the country and have now said that a unisex toilet with a ceiling hoist and changing bench would also be considered.
I was contacted by a very small charity, Wild Futures, who were very sad to learn that they had not known what was required before. Every penny they raise goes back into the monkeys and they don’t have a big budget but they do have big hearts and they want to find a way to make it possible for everyone to be able to visit. Adam is now the proud adopter of a monkey!
We had two incidences where hoists have not been usable in Changing Places toilets due to not being charged. In both cases it was not obvious where the charging point was but signs are now in place to ensure that everyone knows how to keep the facilities well maintained.
I wrote a sad post about us not being able to visit Newquay Zoo and it was noticed by a local charity, Keep It in Cornwall for Kids. This wonderful charity had already sent Adam a family ticket to the zoo and they were sad to learn that he was unable to make use of it. Newquay Zoo is keen to be more accessible but is not in a position to finance it at this time.
The wonderful ladies at Keep it in Cornwall for Kids are deeply saddened to realise just how many other children cannot enjoy a day at Cornwall’s only zoo and, if the zoo cannot fund it all, they are keen to be involved! People in Cornwall are amazing!
And last, but most definitely not least, I am delighted to announce that The Lost Gardens of Heligan are committed to installing a Changing Places style toilet. I have long wanted to visit this place with Adam and I am so looking forward to being able to meet up with friends for lunch here. I am told that the food is great!
They were already aware of the Changing Places toilet campaign as they had been contacted previously by Tony Clough MBE but it was really wonderful to read their message to me. It told me that what I am doing is making a difference.
As most of my evenings are taken up with writing this blog, or writing to companies, this simple message made a huge difference to me.
Thank you to everyone who has advised, supported, shared and listened.
Thank you to all my friends who now take photos of toilets when they are out and send them to me!
Thank you to all those who have spoken to local attraction and given them leaflets to explain what is needed.
Thank you to all the people who have taken the time to think about how their business can improve things for disabled people.
Thank you for caring.