Changing Places was started by a group of campaigners in July 2006. We have come a long way in the last 10 years, with over 850 Changing Places now open in the UK – but there is still room for a lot more.
What exactly is a Changing Places Toilet?
Changing Places toilets are not like standard disabled toilets – they are much more than that. They have a height-adjustable, adult-sized changing bench, a hoist and space either side for two carers.
Why I am campaigning for Changing Places
I am passionate about the Changing Places campaign because Changing Places toilets help over a quarter of a million people, including people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD), to be part of their community just like any other person.
How? Because without Changing Places toilets in public spaces, people who have severe disabilities have to choose between:
- going out for just a short while (so they can get back to use their own toilet)
- going out for longer but having to change on a dirty public toilet floor
- not going out at all.
This is the reality for many people, and it’s not fair.
My role and my goal!
I have been working on the Changing Places campaign since it started. As I am a big football fan, I was asked to work on the football side of the campaign.
As part of this, I campaigned to get sporting venues to commit to installing a Changing Places toilet. This means that wheelchair users and people less able to walk can go and support their team without having to go home before the end the game.
Back in 2008, we got our very first football stadium Changing Places at Preston North End Stadium. Now we have Changing Places toilets in 9 football clubs and international stadiums in the UK.
Getting Arsenal on board is my biggest win so far
My biggest achievement so far has been getting a Changing Places toilet in Arsenal stadium – especially because I’m a really big Arsenal fan!
After several years of campaigning, Arsenal stadium became the 600th venue and the first Premiership Club to install a Changing Places toilet in April 2014…and I was there with Alex Brooker, from the Last Leg, and Alun Francis, the Stadium’s Disability Officer, to open it.
Before the game that day, some people from Arsenal talked to me about accessibility and why Changing Places are important. After, that I was able to see Arsenal beat West Ham by 3-1! It was an amazing day and I’ll never forget it.
The next 10 years
I will not stop campaigning for Changing Places until all football grounds, stadiums and other sporting venues have got Changing Places toilets. My next stadium to target will be Tottenham and West Ham (West Ham already have Changing Places installed, but they still need to register them on the Changing Places map).
I’d also like to see
- all big shops and shopping centres across the UK having a Changing Places toilet (or at least think about having one) installed in their venue
- all councils installing Changing Places toilets in council-run places like community centres, libraries, health centres and doctor’s surgeries
- more campaigners and better awareness about Changing Places in other countries so we can take the campaign worldwide
- more Changing Places open to the public every day, not just in the week. I know five people who live on my road who are in wheelchairs. Without Changing Places toilets, they have to stay at home, which is not right.
Want to find out more about Changing Places?
If you want to find out more about the campaign, we have just released our new 10th Anniversary Changing Places leaflet, which you can find on our website. We’re also going to be holding events around the country for our anniversary and Awareness Day, so make sure you check our website for details and updates!