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Cheers greet government’s Changing Places announcement

Cheers greet government’s Changing Places announcement
27th July 2020 Ian Streets

Charities and campaigners have welcomed the double announcement which accompanied the recent Changing Places Awareness Day.
The first announcement was that changes will be made to legislation to make Changing Places toilets mandatory in new, large buildings in England from 2021. The government confirmed that shopping centres, supermarkets, sports and arts venues will be required to include at least one Changing Place, with facilities including hoists, changing benches and space for carers.
Helen Whately, Minister for Care, said: “Compulsory Changing Places in new public buildings is a major step in reducing the health inequalities.
“All public spaces should cater for people with disabilities so they don’t have to suffer discomfort, embarrassment, or even injury without access to a Changing Place.”
The second announcement came from Muscular Dystrophy UK which, in partnership with the Department for Transport, confirmed that £1.27m will be spent on installing 37 more Changing Places at service stations across England.
The result will be that 87 of the country’s 118 service stations will have a fully accessible Changing Places toilet as part of a government transport strategy which aims to provide equal access to transport by 2030, with assistance if physical infrastructure remains a barrier.
Chris Heaton, the Transport Accessibility Minister was quoted by the Changing Places Consortium. He said: “I want everyone to have the confidence to travel by any means so it is incredibly important for us to work with Muscular Dystrophy UK to provide Changing Places facilities at the majority of service stations in England.”
The sort of premises which will be covered by the new legislation are “places of assembly, recreation and entertainment” with a capacity of 350 or more such as art galleries, cinemas, concert halls, conference centres, colleges and universities, libraries and museums, theatres, places of worship and hotels that include leisure facilities.
The list also includes shopping centres or retail parks with gross floor area of 30,000 square metres or more, retail premises of 2,500 square metres or more, sport or leisure buildings of 5,000 square metres or more and stadia, theme parks, zoos or exhibition centres with a capacity above 2,000.
The government says around 250,000 people with profound and multiple learning disabilities will benefit as well as other people with such physical disabilities as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.
Rob Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “This is huge news for the quarter of a million people who ned Changing Places toilets.
“The changes to legislation will make it easier for disabled people and their families to enjoy activities that many take for granted, whether that’s a day at a shopping centre or attending a concert. And the funding for the motorway service stations means people can travel knowing a facility will be available en route.”
Zack Kerr, a well-known campaigner for better facilities at service stations, said: “This is nothing short of life changing for a quarter of a million people like me in the UK, who need the equipment and space provided in a Changing Places room in order to have dignity when we need the toilet.”


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