Changing Places facility image

Councils are being urged to apply for a share of a £30 million fund to install life-enhancing Changing Places toilets in public places and tourist attractions, providing a significant increase in areas where users want them most.

There are currently around 1,200 registered Changing Places facilities in England. These are larger accessible toilets for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches, and space for carers.

Over 250,000 people in the country need these facilities to enable them to get out and about and enjoy the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted.

Ministerial Disability Champion Eddie Hughes MP commented: “Where people shop, go out, or travel should not be determined by their disability. That’s why the provision of Changing Places Toilets is so important for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets.

“I hope local councils across England will apply for funding to install CPTs so everyone can enjoy the benefits of lockdown easing.”

Recent research conducted by Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) demonstrates that the top three places where people currently use and value Changing Places units are shops, hospitals, and tourist attractions.

Users, their families, and carers would like to see future provision in areas enabling them to ‘have a day out’ and undertake more recreational activities with dignity, confidence, and freedom.

The top three locations where these facilities should be made available were country parks, open spaces, and tourist attractions. The top three venues were: beaches and the seaside, motorway services, and parks or gardens.

Bairbre McKendrick, Access Officer at Leeds City Council, added: “In Leeds we have been working at providing Changing Places toilets throughout the city since 2011. We currently have 42 CPTs half of which are in Leeds City Council buildings or Parks and which we maintain.

“After 10 years we still have more sites where a CPT would really be beneficial to families and individuals who use them. We are keen to install a CPT at Kirkstall Abbey – our 800-year-old Cistercian Abbey which is a big tourist attraction and hosts music events in the Summer.

“Our advice to other local authorities is not to be hesitant and apply for this funding, as users will be delighted to have new CPTs and will definitley use them. Your city and towns will benefit from CPTs and the freedom they can offer to people who need them.”

Councils will be invited to complete a short expression of interest to receive a proportion of this funding. They are encouraged to consider where Changing Places Toilets are most needed in their communities and are encouraged to work in partnership with other organisations to deliver these facilities, including securing match funding wherever possible.

Expressions of interest must be submitted by 26 September 2021.

To apply for funding, click here

Local authorities are being advised to work with local partners including voluntary and community groups, parish and town councils and others to identify the potential to install new Changing Places toilets in their area and work with building owners to assess the viability of potential projects.

They will also be responsible for identifying local places in need of a Changing Places facility and entering a grant arrangement with a responsible organisation or procuring contractors to build or install the facility.

The UK Government also recently published its National Disability Strategy, outlining initiatives to bridge the disability employment gap, support young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and make housing more accessible.

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