Posted: Fri 12th Aug 2022

Campaigners call for more ‘Changing Places’ accessible toilets in Flintshire

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Aug 12th, 2022

There are calls for more Changing Places Toilets installed in all public venues in Flintshire as a map shows there are just three of the vital facilities.

People with profound and multiple learning disabilities or with physical disabilities such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis often need extra equipment and space to allow them to use the toilets safely and comfortably.

Changing Places are specially adapted accessible toilets that have hoists, an adult-sized changing bed, and grabrails.

They enable anyone, regardless of their disability, to go to the shops, attend hospital appointments, enjoy community life, socialise and travel.

Over 250,000 people in the UK need Changing Places Toilets, yet there are only around 50 Changing Places in the whole of Wales – across the U.K. fewer than 2% of train stations, 17 cinemas, and only 19 pubs and restaurants have such facilities.

The need for more of the facilities has been highlighted by local organisation Together Creating Communities (TCC) in their current campaign, Changing Places for Wales.

In North-East Wales, there are just 9 on the Changing Places Toilets, most of which are in Wrexham.

Since meeting with TCC in December 2021, Broughton Retail Park has been pressing ahead with plans to reconfigure the current customer toilet facilities on site to accommodate a Changing Places Toilet Facility.

Centre Manager Alan Pruden-Barker says it is a priority to “welcome more visitors to the centre, providing reassurances that we can cater for all needs”.

Jan Thomas, Chief Executive of the FDF Centre for Independent Living and TCC community leader, has said: “Access to clean, accessible toilets is a fundamental right for everybody.”

“Changing Places toilets enable all disabled people to have the same experiences as their non-disabled peers.”

“We know from the people we work with and support that the biggest concern about going out into the community is the lack of accessible toilet facilities.”

“These life-changing facilities are in short supply, and this excludes many people from living life to the fullest – unable to be a part of the community, putting time limits on how long people can stay out, or how far people can travel from home.”

The lack of Changing Places in Wales has an impact on local economies too, says TCC.

The spending power of disabled households known as the “Purple Pound” is currently estimated to be around 274 billion per year.

“With suitable toilet facilities, the quarter of a million people in the UK who need Changing Places, could travel, work, shop, and socialize in their community.” TCC said.

North Wales MS Mark Isherwood said: “There is a great need for Changing Places Toilets and I am glad that TCC is highlighting this.”

“As Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Disability in the Senedd/Welsh Parliament, I am committed to removing the barriers which stop people in Wales who are limited in their own mobility from getting out and about and enjoying the day-to-day activities which most of us take for granted.”

Flintshire County Council Leader Cllr Ian Roberts has confirmed with TCC that the council will consult with community members about Changing Places Toilets when they update their county-wide Toilets Strategy within the next 10 months.

Theatr Clwyd is currently undergoing a multi-million-pound redevelopment which will include upgraded toilet facilities.

“Having a changing places facility will benefit so many people coming to the venue and enable others to attend who might not have been able to attend in the past. We want to break down as many barriers as possible and provide a welcoming environment for everyone.” Theatr Clwyd Finance, Operations & People Director, Andrew Roberts said.

A TCC spokesperson said: “The Changing Places for Wales campaign highlights that a there should be no barriers to disabled people being able to live life fully.”

The lack of Changing Places facilities leads to exclusion and potential isolation – it is time for Changing Places For Wales.”

“We are asking local councils to update their toilets strategies to include Changing Places Toilets. We are also raising the issue nationally with Members of the Senedd.”

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