Campaigners are calling on the Government to make toilets that are accessible to all disabled people a compulsory part of building and planning regulations, as the majority of disabled bathrooms currently are not suitable for all.
The accessible facilities, called Changing Places toilets, include equipment such as a height adjustable adult-sized changing bench, a hoist system, a large waste bin for disposable pads, wide tear off paper roll to cover the bench and a non-slip floor.
The toilets also have a large enough changing area to accommodate the disabled person and up to two carers, with a centrally placed toilet with room either side and a screen or curtain to allow some privacy.
At the moment, there are 1,070 Changing Places toilets in the whole of the UK. To put this into perspective, Wembley Stadium alone has 2,500 standard toilets.
An online petition to make Changing Places toilets part of planning regulations has been launched by mum-of-two Lorna Fillingham, from Scunthorpe.
Lorna’s seven-year-old daughter has severe physical and learning disabilities and is unable to sit on a standard toilet. Finding suitable facilities is already a challenge for Lorna – the hospital her daughter visits doesn’t even have a Changing Places toilet – but she’s worried things will only get worse as her daughter ages.
“One day I will not be able to physically lift my daughter out of a wheelchair, so it gets to a point where people are either isolated at home or having to sit in their own body fluids for long periods of time,” Lorna says in a vlog for HuffPost UK.
Paralympian Anne Wafula Strike is supporting the campaign. “Life is about giving value to everyone. At the moment I feel like people with disabilities and their families are forgotten. We’ve become after afterthought,” she adds in the vlog.
“If we don’t speak out, we are going to be put in a box, put on a shelf, and it’ll be another 50 -100 years before they take us off that shelf.”
The campaigners will be appearing in Westminster on 20 February to meet with MPs and present the petition. You can sign the petition yourself here.