Severely disabled people will benefit from better facilities and greater accessibility in their local areas as councils across England today (4 Feb) receive their share of over £7m government funding to build Changing Places toilets.
Designed for those who struggle to use standard accessible toilets, these new state-of-the-art facilities come with additional equipment such as hoists, adult sized changing benches and space for carers. They are targeted at areas where they are most needed such as parks, shopping centres and train stations with little to no access facilities.
Today’s announcement brings the amount of funding awarded under the government’s Changing Places scheme to £30.5 million. The scheme is providing more than 600 new facilities, bringing the total of Changing Places toilets across England to 1,900.
Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison, said:
“Everyone deserves to have the freedom to enjoy their local communities – without the fear of whether or not they’re going to be able to access the facilities they need.
“Today’s funding will see 120 new Changing Places toilets in places where they are most needed, helping ensure disabled people and their carers can go about their lives with dignity.”
Robert Burley, Director of Director of Care, Campaigns, and Support at Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) said:
“We’re very pleased that the remaining balance from this fund has been allocated. This is a wonderful outcome and will see increased provision of Changing Places toilets in the areas most in need.
“MDUK is extremely proud to be supporting this vital programme, and we look forward to providing our continued specialist support to both the Department and to Local Authorities through to its conclusion; and to the increased inclusion this funding will facilitate across England.”
Shelley Simmonds is a campaigner and advocate for MDUK as her son, Fraser, 9, lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition which causes muscles to weaken over time.
“I am a delighted to hear the announcement today and I know I speak for many families like mine when I say that Changing Places really do change lives. The freedom of being able to visit different places and have days out that we can thoroughly enjoy, without the worry of toilet uncertainty or having to cut our trips shorts, is a wonderful feeling!
“Not being able to access a suitable toilet dictates our everyday life and prevents us from even accessing our most local community. With more Changing Places popping up, families can explore places that were once off limits.”
In a study by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers in 2021, Commissioned by Muscular Dystrophy UK and DLUHC, families and carers said the top locations where these facilities should be made available were country parks, open spaces, tourist attractions and transport networks, as the journey to the destination is a key factor in planning a day out. The top venues were beaches and the seaside, motorway services and parks or gardens.
New facilities will now be built in the following venues:
Public parks and open spaces
Tourist attractions including historic properties, seaside resorts and zoos
Museums, theatres, and galleries
Libraries and public buildings