UK – 230,000 DISABLED PEOPLE ‘DENIED ACCESS TO PUBLIC TOILETS’

SOCIAL Toilets, 22 Jun 2009

Nearly a quarter of a million disabled people in the UK are being denied access to public toilet facilities that meet their needs, forcing their carers to change them on toilet floors, according to research published today.

The research, commissioned by charity Mencap, found that 230,252 people, including those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, are being denied access to adequate public toilet facilities.

Mencap, which is a member of the Changing Places Consortium, is now calling for fully accessible toilets, known as Changing Places toilets, to be available in all big public places. There are currently only 85 in the UK.

Changing Places toilets are different to standard accessible toilets and include an adjustable changing bench and a hoist to allow people to use the toilet with assistance or have their incontinence pads changed.

The charity is using Learning Disability Week, which starts today, to urge the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to change building regulations to make Changing Places toilets mandatory in all new public places.

Julie Marriott whose 11-year-old son Toby has profound and multiple learning disabilities, said: “I am racked with guilt every time I lie my son Toby down on a dirty toilet floor because I know I am risking his health. But I have no other option. We can’t stay at home all the time.

“If there were Changing Places toilets in public places we wouldn’t have to cut short our family days out or face changing Toby on a filthy toilet floor. Our lives would be dramatically improved and we would be able to enjoy days out, just like other families.”

Mark Goldring, chief executive of Mencap, said: “Every time a carer is forced to change a disabled family member on a dirty toilet floor it is a stain on the conscience of our country.

“The Government must take immediate action and make Changing Places toilets mandatory in all new big public places, otherwise they will continue to let down a quarter of a million of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Mencap is calling for people to support the Changing Places campaign for fully accessible toilets by signing an online petition which will be presented to the DCLG in October.

For more information go to www.mencap.org.uk/changelives.

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