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Fund to install more life-enhancing Changing Places toilets

Councils can apply for a share of £30m funding to install life-enhancing Changing Places toilets in public places and tourist attractions, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced.

Housing bosses say the toilets will enable users to take part in more recreational activities with dignity, confidence, and freedom.

This comes following the launch of the government’s National Disability Strategy, which campaigners said fell short of the transformational plan that many disabled people expected and deserve.

There are currently 1,200 registered Changing Places toilets in England,  these are larger accessible toilets for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches, and space for carers.

More than 250,000 people in the country need these facilities to enable them to get out and about and enjoy the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted.

Lorna Fillingham from Ashby, a Changing Places campaigner, said without the facilities, disabled children are having to be changed on public toilet floors.

‘I have a disabled daughter who is a wheelchair user, and she’s nonverbal, which means that she can’t actually tell us when she needs to go to the toilet.

‘Changing Places toilets with an adult changing table, hoist and toilet are therefore a lifeline to us to have a family day out. Without these types of special facilities, disabled children are having to be changed on public toilet floors or in the back of cars.

‘In the 21st century nobody should be isolated in their homes because of a lack of an accessible toilet in their community, and nobody should have to be laid on a public toilet floor.’

Councils will be invited to complete a short expression of interest to receive a proportion of this funding.

They are encouraged to consider where Changing Places toilets are most needed in their communities and are encouraged to work in partnership with other organisations to deliver these facilities, including securing match funding wherever possible.

Muscular Dystrophy UK, co-chairs of the Changing Places Consortium, will be providing specialist expertise to support local councils if they are awarded funding which will include:

• Dedicated advice and information and Changing Places officers to support councils
• Changing Places manual and training
• Connecting authorities and collaborative network support
• Signposting to suppliers and installation companies

Robert Burley, Muscular Dystrophy UK director of campaigns, care and support, said: ‘We are delighted to be supporting this MHCLG initiative, which will make a huge difference to the lives of people who rely on Changing Places toilets, many of whom live with muscle-wasting conditions.

‘We urge local councils to apply for this funding. As co-chairs of the Changing Places Consortium, Muscular Dystrophy UK is proud to be able to offer advice and information to local authorities in receipt of funding and to connect them with the fantastic Changing Places toilets community.’

A study by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers found that the top three places where people currently use and value CPTs are shops, hospitals, and tourist attractions.

The research found that users, their families, and carers would like to see the future provision in areas enabling them to ‘have a day out’ and undertake more recreational activities with dignity, confidence, and freedom.

The top three locations where these facilities should be made available were country parks, open spaces, tourist attractions, transport networks, the journey to the destination being a key factor in planning a day out.

The top three venues were: beaches and the seaside, motorway services, and parks or gardens.

Ministerial disability champion, Eddie Hughes, said: ‘Where people shop, go out, or travel should not be determined by their disability.

‘That’s why the provision of Changing Places toilets is so important for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets. I hope local councils across England will apply for funding to install CPTs so everyone can enjoy the benefits of lockdown easing.’

Click here to submit an expression of interest. The deadline is September 26.

Photo Credit – Changing Places

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