For a long time campaigning for Changing Places facilities has felt like an endless uphill battle, with no hope for change.
But change is coming! However, it will not happen without all supporters of the Changing Places campaign taking action. Simple action, nothing radical, and nothing that even requires you to leave the house.
Will you write an e-mail to support the rights of all people to access toilet facilities in major facilities where pretty much all able-bodied people expect to be able to access toilets?
Use this link to find your MP and then send them an e-mail (or letter, if preferred) asking them to turn up in the House of Commons on Friday 23rd November 2018 and support Paula Sherriff MP when she presents her Accessible Toilets Bill for the second reading.
Here is a basic template which you are welcome to use. Feel free to add your own personal message and experience too. The template is very much for those without personal experience but who are passionate about equality and the rights of all people to access toilets.
I am contacting you to request your support in putting right a terrible situation which is being faced by over 250,000 disabled people in the UK.
Some disabled people are unable to access toilets when away from their own home, just because they need a hoist to lift them from their wheelchair and a bench to lay down on to sort clothing and switch to using a toileting sling before being hoisted to the toilet. These facilities are known as Changing Places Toilets.
Some users of Changing Places toilets are incontinent and will always need to use pads. Those people need their pads changed frequently and, at the moment, they are being changed on toilet floors, in cars and sometimes in relatively open spaces with family members shielding their dignity as best they can.
This is not acceptable and needs to change. Current legislation for disabled toilets gives absolutely no legal protection to those who need Changing Places toilets. They are “recommended” in BS8300 but big business owners, councils, tourist attractions, railway stations etc are ignoring the need. And the Equality does nothing unless a person who has been discriminated against, and probably feels very vulnerable, has the emotional strength and financial ability to take legal action against a big business or organisation.
When families ask a large establishment to install these facilities a common reply is “we are doing what the law states we must do as a minimum”. They are hiding behind the law whilst knowing that some 250,000+ people in the UK rely on toilets with a hoist and changing table for their dignity and safety. We need a new minimum for large new developments.
You may be aware that a child in Cornwall is taking legal action against a theme park which ignored his requests to improve their toilets for almost two years. Access to toilets is not something anyone should have to battle in court for.
Just recently, in London, a 13 year old boy suffered a broken femur because there were no changing places toilets nearby and he couldn’t hold on. His mum did her best to lift him but she should never have been placed in that position.
Changing Places toilets are not new. The campaign for them has been going for over 12 years now. Yet there are more toilets in Wembley Stadium alone than there are Changing Places toilets in the whole of the UK.
Paula Sherriff MP successfully presented a Ten Minute Rule Bill in June 2018 to make Changing Places toilets mandatory in large new builds, complexes with public access, or sites where visitors can reasonably be expected to spend long periods of time. Please do refresh your memory of the Bill.
Please also understand that this equipment does not need to be sourced from a specific supplier. Toilets and basins are widely available across the country, as are ceiling hoist installers and places providing adult sized changing tables. I know that such terms sound a bit specialised and specific but this equipment is in the homes of people across the country, which shows how readily available it is.
On Friday 23rd November 2018 the Bill will be presented for a second reading.
Toilet equality is important. Any one of us can become disabled at any time, and how a society cares for its most vulnerable is the true marker of that society. At this moment in time, we are letting disabled people down, with many feeling that they are treated as “less than human”. I ask you to attend the House of Commons on November 23rd to support Paula Sherriff MP and to ensure that no children or adults of the future end up being changed on toilet floors, left sat in their own waste, or trapped at home because they are afraid to risk going out in case they cannot hold on till they get home.
Everyone deserves dignity and I am asking you to support equality and dignity for all.
I look forward to your response and to seeing you support this vital Bill.
Remember to add your full name and address, not just your e-mail details.
Feel free to write your own or to tweak this in any way. It is merely a starting point for those who would like to help but do not know where to begin.
But we need EVERY FOLLOWER of this campaign to take this action. It really will only take a few minutes but it will make a massive difference to hundreds of thousands of people in the UK.
And, one day, it really could be you or one of your loved ones needing the facilities.
None of us is immune to disability. And this awful situation needs to change.
Please help. Feel free to use any of the images here to show how simple the facilities actually are.