In the past I have written articles about the ‘Radar Toilet Scheme’ and how that can help disabled people in wheelchairs cope when they are out from home for any reason but there simply not enough of those toilets about and not everyone is aware that you can buy a key for the Radar scheme to give you access to these toilets.
Normally those specialised toilets give a certain independence and dignity for those of us with disability problems, but just imagine how much more difficult it can be for the parents of a disabled child. Not only do they require extra space but the lack of changing benches in disabled toilets or even ones at heights that are accessible to the parent or carer or even more important are wide enough to be able to attend to the youngster’s needs.
It was good to see that a sitting MP has raised this situation in Parliament. The SNP’s Lisa Cameron (and no I don’t think she is related to Dave!) told MP’s in the house that the lack of facilities means that on many occasions children are having to be changed and attended to whilst laying on the toilet floor! Now, however good any toilet facility is or how clean it is kept this is just not acceptable in this day and age.
I was shocked to hear just how poor the UK is at providing decent facilities for not disabled people but even worse for those people looking after disabled children. For example, Lisa Cameron told the house that research suggests that just nine (9) out of 2500 train stations have suitable changing places.
Responding to the SNP’s member Jake Berry, the Communities Minister, said that although there was already a requirement in law for changing places to be available much more still needed to be done. He cited the facts that only 12 motorway services out nearly 100 and only 50 out of around 500 shopping centres have adequate facilities and that it just is not good enough.
Mrs Cameron, who is Chairperson of the all-party Disability Parliamentary Group, said she hears repeatedly stories she finds distressing of children having to be changed on toilet floors due to lack of properly provided facilities.
The Campaign group, Changing Places say that in their estimations 250,000 severely disabled people do not have access to public toilets with facilities that meet their needs!
I realise having just listened to the Chancellors budget/autumn statement that there is not much money left for anything but the UK is not a third world country YET and we need to ensure that serious inroads are made into the appalling lack of facilities that are available, otherwise, things will just get worse and worse.
Unfortunately, if you have a disability, whatever it is, you can easily become a “Non-Person” and I imagine for children with disabilities and their parents or carers it must be even worse. We all need to get behind trying to eradicate this problem, perhaps a message to your own MP could be a start.