MP joins Olympian in pressing for "Changing Places"

July 2, 2009 2:59 PM
Changing places

Mark with Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson at the launch of the campaign

Mark Hunter MP recently joined Mencap and the 11 times Paralympic gold medallist Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson to celebrate Learning Disability Week and call for an increase in the number of Changing Places toilets available in the UK.

Standard disabled toilets do not meet the needs of all people with a disability, with over 230,000 people who need to use a Changing Places toilet in the UK and only 85 Changing Places toilets available. This year's Learning Disability Week, which ran from 22 -28 June, aimed to alert people to this alarming unmet need.

Changing Places toilets are toilets which have enough space for the person with a disability and their carers, and the right equipment which includes an adult sized height-adjustable changing bench and a hoist. Without them people who need support from one or two carers to use the toilet or to have their continence pad changed either have to stay at home or their family carers have to resort to changing them on dirty toilet floors. Mencap is therefore calling on the Department for Communities and Local Government to amend Building Regulations Part M to make the provision of Changing Places toilets in large newly built public buildings such as toilets shopping centres, airports large railway stations and motorway services a legal requirement.

Commenting after attending the campaign launch Mr Hunter said "We all take being able to go out to the shops or to our local leisure centre for granted and yet there are nearly a quarter of a million people whose lives are severely restricted by not having the right toilet facilities.

"It is dangerous, unhygienic and undignified for anyone to have to be changed on toilet floors and this is why I am supporting Mencap's calls for a change to the Building Regulations so we can ensure the building of more Changing Places toilets."

Leroy Binns, spokesman for Mencap, said: "Without Changing Places toilets people with profound and multiple learning disabilities can't take part in the community like everyone else, which is not fair. We are delighted to have Mark Hunter MP's support during Learning Disability Week."

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