Tuesday 20th February 2018 is a landmark day in the lives of people with thousands of various profound disabilities and chronic illnesses to where toileting out in public is either impossible or vastly undignified. Today could mark the day accessible toilets became truly accessible to all 250,000 UK residents who require more than just a set of grab rails around the loo and an often disconnected ’emergency’ pull cord.
It all started from a petition set up on the ever trusty Change.org site by Lorna Fillingham, a Mum of 2 from Scunthorpe who had no choice but to lay her precious little girl Emily-May, down on often urine soaked public toilet floors in a bid to meet her toileting needs. Why you ask? Emily-May (7) is a wheelchair user with a rare condition that involves global development delay. Impacting on many areas of her daily life including still needing to be laid down to be changed to remain well and comfortable. GDD is just ONE of thousands of disabilities/chronic illnesses that require the use of facilities found only in what are known as ‘Changing Places’ toilets.
So far on my blog, readers have only heard my story on why I and many adults with Neuromuscular Diseases need Changing Places facilities. When really we are only a drop in the ocean as minority group compared to all categories of UK residents in great need. The most pronounced category for the need of Changing Places are for Children with disabilities, and their parents are the biggest voices for this campaign that are about to change history for all involved!
I caught up with Lorna to get the background of the petition to help readers gain a better perspective of how far she and other leading campaigners (such as Mum On A Mission and Sarah Brisdion of the #LooAdvent) have come.
I started the Petition 3 years ago. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep changing my daughter as she grew, using the baby changing facilities and there was a severe lack of anything alternative (at a that time there were less than 1,000 Changing Places across the UK). I realised if we could get Changing Places compulsory in building and planning regulations then that would result in an ever increasing amount of facilities in the UK, and that perhaps one day disabled children may not longer have to be changed on public toilet floors…
~ Lorna Fillingham
The Petition calls for large public building and planning regulations to make Changing Places facilties mandatory, rather than an added luxury. Adequate toileting facilities should be standard, as it is for the rest of society. Petitions in the UK that reach a minimum of 150,000 digital signatures from the general public are considered for debate in Parliament. Lorna’s petition currently stands at 51,807 signatures, with the next goal being 75,000.
Lorna will be delivering her petition that will ultimately increase the quality of life of over 250,000 people with disabilities/chronic illnesses to 10 Downing Street this coming Tuesday. 2018 could be the year of a huge breakthrough in equality in Great Britain for which we are hopeful that Changing Places is at the forefront of.
With all the issues regarding disability rights and the horrendous chaos caused by the discontinuation of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) , being replaced by the ever controversial Personal Independence Payment (PIP) over the past 5 years, Britain needs to pass this petition to restore the faith that this country will start to look after residents with disabilities like many a country once admired it for.
If you’d like to join in the fight to get more Changing Places installed across the UK, here are two simple ways!
- Sign the Change.org Petition ‘Change Building + Planning Regulations to make Changing Places Compulsory’ by Lorna Fillingham (Click the link 👆)
- Get talking about toileting and Changing Places on all forms of Social Media using the hashtag #ChangingPlaces in a bid for awareness to go viral on TUES 20TH FEB 2018 (Petition hand in day!)
I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone for getting behind this campaign. Each and every signature, share, comment and hashtag for Changing Places is making a difference and together we won’t stop talking about toileting until EVERYONE can access a toilet that meets their needs!