Loo Advent for Changing Places

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Sarah, Mum to Hadley, began her Loo Advent Campaign on 1 December 2017 to raise awareness about the important need for Changing Places around the UK.  With her campaign gathering support around the UK, we’ve asked Sarah to give some background to the Loo Advent for Changing Places campaign and tell us what her aims are.

If there is no Changing Places toilet available, the only option we have to use the toilet floor. It’s horrendous, undignified, unhygienic and dangerous.

“My son inspired the advent calendar,” says Sarah.  “He is 7 years old. He also happens to have Cerebral Palsy and is a full time wheelchair user. He needs more than just a toilet in a disabled loo. He needs a changing bench (and sometimes the hoist too). His continence is affected by his disability, so he is not always able to make the toilet in time and wears pull ups. He cannot stand unaided and needs to lie down to have his trousers and underwear removed, before being helped onto the toilet or changed into fresh underwear. If there is no Changing Places toilet available, the only option we have to use the toilet floor. It’s horrendous, undignified, unhygienic and dangerous. I can only just manage to lift him at age 7. I can only imagine how hard it is to lift an adult from a wheelchair to the floor and back up!”

“What is just as horrendous, is that Changing Places toilets are fairly easy to install and they don’t cost millions but huge multinational businesses are refusing to install them. That infuriates me, as they are saying my son is not worth catering for. And it’s not just my son as you know. There are hundreds of thousands of people who need Changing Places toilets.”

Sarah is also asking everyone to support Laura Moore’s Change.org petition this Christmas and add pressure to the places that many of us use or visit every day to install these vital facilities.

“There is so much stigma around pee, poo and periods, that we just don’t talk about toilets and what we do on them. I feel this stigma around toileting is adding to the battle for disabled people, trying to get these facilities installed. I want to try to break down some of those barriers. We all have to pee. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Some people just need a little more help than others.”

Sarah has created her own Advent Calendar this year. “I thought I’d take a selfie on the loo, and then thought, why not make it 24! If one doesn’t get people’s attention, perhaps a whole suite of them will? The slight embarrassment I feel from sharing these photos, is nothing compared to the indignity my son feels having to lie down amongst other people’s urine.”

Sarah isn’t alone in the Advent Calendar selfies though – The Last Leg hosts Adam Hills, Josh Widdicombe and Alex Brooker provided day 9 and Hannah Cockcroft provided Day 12.

“I really hope that Christmas is a way to get more attention and to reach a wider audience,” said Sarah. We so desperately need to reach more people. As campaigners, we constantly have to try to find new ways to bring this to the public’s attention, because unless you live with a disability yourself or care for somebody with one, it’s just not something you are really aware of.”

With the ‘Purple Pound’ being worth more than £249 billion each year, Sarah wants the Government to enforce the Equality Act 2010 and enable everyone to be able to access venues, shopping centres and leisure facilities.  As well as this, she wants to see all large public buildings offer Changing Places and make it easier for people who need the facilities to access them.

Sarah concluded: “It’s getting too hard to visit places that don’t have Changing Places now and our lives are hugely restricted. In our locality, there is not a single supermarket, bowling alley or cinema we can visit with a Changing Place.”

You can support Sarah by visiting the Change.org campaign and follow her on Twitter.

Here are some of our favourite tweets so far

A wheelchair user for 20 years, Dominic looks at how a wheelchair works for its user base, not the brochure. Dominic is our lead editor.

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