This time last year every day began with two questions from my son.
- Where are we going today?
- Do they have a toilet I can use?
That second question would have me struggling to hold back the tears.
Because the answer was generally “no”.
But now each day it is even harder because he no longer asks the second question.
He has accepted that he will be treated poorly.
Adam is just 10 years old and was so keen to get involved in the campaign for Changing Places toilets in Cornwall. He was keen to get to “work” and I carefully found ways to enable him to be part of the campaign without getting too hurt. He was very proud to have his first work day and I was so proud of him.
We wrote letters to local town councils and visited local attractions to hand deliver letters. I sent pleading e-mails to a variety of places in Cornwall.
Adam was certain that we would get many great responses from people who would be horrified to learn that their attraction or town had no toilets that he could use.
But he was mainly ignored.
Several of the places that he hand delivered letters to did not reply.
Half of the town councils we wrote to did not reply.
Some places have said no. (Lands End and Flambards)
The local city council replied saying that they have known about the need for three years but didn’t think it was possible!
Access for disabled people is supposed to be protected in law.
Yet, if you cannot “go” when you get there, is it really worth getting there at all?
Like many others we “choose” to stay away because we cannot knowingly place our son in a position where he will be emotionally harmed.
Messing myself in a public place and having no way to clean up till I got home would definitely scar me for the long term. How would you feel about it?
So we stay away and we remain unseen.
And disabled access continues to be ignored, treated as an “optional extra” that people should be “grateful” for.
The executives, councillors and Parliamentarians don’t need a hoist or changing table to access a toilet so they don’t care.
But Adam, like hundreds of thousands of others, does. And his acceptance that he has no place at major tourist attractions, city centres or even supermarkets, hurts me so much more.
This is wrong.
Nobody should accept that they don’t matter.
But I don’t know what to do to make him believe that he does.