Disability rights campaigners have praised Swansea businesses for leading the way in helping some of the city’s most profoundly disabled residents enjoy “the freedom of the city”.
The Changing Places Consortium campaigns for toilet facilities for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities to be installed in large buildings and spaces, and it marks its 10th anniversary on July 19th.
Swansea has seven Changing Places facilities, including at the LC, at the Civic Centre, Swansea Railway Station, 360 Beach and Watersport Centre, The Quadrant bus station, Brangwyn Hall and the National Waterfront Museum. They are used by people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, people with cerebral palsy, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and many others who need additional support to meet their personal needs.
The Changing Places Consortium launched the campaign in 2006 on behalf of the 1/4 of a million people who cannot use standard accessible toilets, so people could meet their personal needs in facilities that are secure, safe and purpose-built. Changing Places toilets have a height-adjustable changing bench, a hoist and plenty of space.
Kat Watkins, from the Hafod in Swansea, has been a long-term campaigner for Changing Places toilets. She has lived with brittle bone disease since birth and she has been in a wheelchair all her life.
“Swansea can really be proud of the way it has wholeheartedly adopted the Changing Places scheme and I would urge other towns and cities to follow their lead as enthusiastically.
“I work at Swansea’s LC and as an employer they have been very keen to listen to what my needs are as a disabled person and to accommodate them.
“I also use the LC’s Changing Places facilities, as do many of the LC’s disabled customers, and for so many people Changing Places can be the difference between living an independent life and being isolated and tethered to home.
“Living as independent a life as I possibly can is a priority for me and for many disabled people and Changing Places facilities take away the fear of leaving the house and not being able to find anywhere to use the toilet safely.
“It is something most people don't have to think about, but for the severely disabled it is a big factor in their independence. Some people stay at home because they are fearful of not being able to go to the toilet and they don't want to ask for help.”
Rossanna Trudgian, co-chair of the Changing Places Consortium, says:
“We are delighted to be able to say that, in the year of our 10th anniversary, Swansea has really championed the Changing Places campaign. We know this has changed people's lives. However, there are still many large public places across the UK that lack Changing Places toilets and therefore deny people’s rights. With the help of our fantastic campaigners and campaign sponsors Aveso we will continue to fight to make sure every one of the people in the UK who require a Changing Places toilet can access one.”
For further information about the Changing Places campaign call 0207 6966019 or visit the website www.changing-places.org
If you need any advice regarding Changing Places equipment and installation call campaign sponsors Aveso on 01242 822 979 or visit the website www.aveso.co.uk