If the Chairman of Southampton FC had a disabled child, would I even be writing this?

hoDZYhEOkAOnJvh-800x450-noPadWe have had a tiny slither of success at St Mary’s Stadium (Southampton FC). The supporter relations team have confirmed that the first aid rooms are being made available to anyone with additional needs for changing purposes. They are located in all stands, except the Northam I believe. This is a little step in the right direction, but of course only of use to those who can be transferred to a changing bed without a hoist.  Don’t get me wrong. It is a positive move, but it’s sadly nowhere near enough.

I believe that a multi-million pound business like a Premier League Football Club with a huge disabled supporter base, has a moral obligation to do way more and that they should be installing a Changing Places facility, with full sized changing bed, ceiling hoist and peninsular toilet, during this close season, making a firm commitment to all disabled supporters, not just some. And more than that. That they should want to, to show they really do care. Why stall? It’s an easy thing to do (in the close season) and it can only make them look good, attract more fans and leave them less likely to end up with an insurance claim should somebody get injured having to be dangerously lifted at the stadium. I honestly don’t know why they would want to wait. If they are actually going to install one, why not tell us and get the credit they would deserve, rather than constantly ‘fluff’ around the subject, hinting that they may in one breath and then saying that they cannot confirm when or if they will, in another.

So what are they not telling us? Is the club about to be sold perhaps? Or is the lack of commitment simply a case of them really not understanding how wide and urgent the need is?

I wonder if the son or daughter of the Southampton chairman, owners or stadium manager, were severely disabled, if we would even be having this conversation? We probably wouldn’t be would we?

If this were the case, I’d put money on the fact that we would be the most accessible stadium in the Premier League. Because they would understand the tears, the heartache, the lack of public awareness, the lack of support from a government that also does not care about society’s most vulnerable. They would understand how hard it is as a parent to not be able to take away pain, frustrations and medical problems, that make the simple every day things we take for granted, like going to the toilet, a huge challenge. They would appreciate that being able to do the things you love with your family and being included, makes all the difference. And they would be standing beside me, shoulder to shoulder, saying: ‘Hey, this isn’t right! We need a Changing Places at St Mary’s stadium. ASAP! We can’t expect people to lay on floors or be dangerously lifted, or for them to have to sit in their own excrement. Not in 2016!’



M&S not inclusive.

A wonderful campaigner friend of mine has written this, it’s an open letter to Marks and Spencer. I’m right behind her. I hope you are too. x

Dear Marks & Spencer.

With 852 stores, you are one of the biggest retailers in the UK, you have a store in most of our towns high streets. Most people in the UK have shopped in Marks and Spencer’s at some point in their life and most people I know visit at least once a month.

We all love Marks and Spencer’s for its great quality clothes, gorgeous underwear, comfy shoes. We love to treat ourselves to your food on payday and spend time with friends and family in your cafes.

We love how you change to meet the latest trends and have even recently added adapted clothing to your children’s ranges for those with special or medical needs.

It’s all those things that make you the UK’s favourite retailer.

So let me ask you this…

Why is it perfectly acceptable to you that your loyal customers have to lay their disabled loved ones on your toilet floors to meet their continence needs?Disabled person lying on a toilet floor

Why do some of your customers have to cut their visits to your shops short because they can’t use the toilets you provide?

Why aren’t you making your stores inclusive for EVERYONE?

We’ve been asking you for years to make changes to allow your disabled customers to be able to use ALL of your facilities but you’ve still not changed a thing.

A shocking 75% of disabled people have left a shop or business because of poor disability awareness or facilities, including toilet facilities. That’s 3/4 of your customers!!

We’ve been fobbed off with excuses and false promises for long enough now. It’s time for change.

Marks and Spencer’s do you realise that the UK has :

– 1.5 million wheelchair users

– One in 10 people who have either bladder or bowel incontinence (around 1.2 million people aged 65+affected by faecal incontinence)

-1.5million people with a learning disability

– 1.2million people living with stroke

– 62,000 amputees

– 30,000 people with cerebral palsy

– 13,000 people with acquired brain injuries

– 8,500 people with multiple sclerosis

– 500 people with motor neurone disease

– 8,000 people with spina bifida

All of these people are potential M&S customers. And ALL would benefit from a Changing Places or Space To Change toilet facility in your store.

The UK’s 11.9 million disabled people are said to have disposable income collectively worth £80bn!

By not providing these facilities what you’re really saying is that you don’t want us to shop with you. That our money isn’t good enough for you and that you will only provide facilities for those that it’s easy to cater for.

Times are changing, it’s 2016 and it’s time you changed too, you’ve already shown you can by adding adapted clothing to your range so let’s take it a step further.

In an ideaChanging Places logo JPEGl world, we would always prefer to have a Changing Places facility and we believe
there is no excuse not to install one in your bigger stores and in all your newly built stores, but at 12m sq not all your existing stores have enough space to accommodate one and we accept that.13007285_1737983249792437_8067044725675004600_n

At 7mt sq, Space To Change offers a great alternative to those stores with space constraints, in fact some of your current disabled toilets could easily be changed to a Space To Change facility simply by adding some equipment…no building work necessary.

By providing this you will be making your stores far more appealing to thousands of customers who like your products, enjoy your food and want to spend time with their loved ones in your cafes.

Your ‘SOMETHING GOOD IS HERE’ campaign states “We believe in doing the right thing, not just saying it.” So please don’t make excuses anymore. The time for change is now, its time to do something good!

What do you say Marks & Spencer’s? Are you in? Do you want to be the UK’s first and only fully accessible and disabled friendly retailer?

Because that’s what we want from you!

#M&SForAll  #ChangingPlaces #SpaceToChange

Everyone is entitled to a #spacetochange

Enjoying time away from home is being made easier with the launch of a new solution for accessible toilets- Space to Change.

Space To Change toilets plug the gap between conventional (Building Regulations Approved Document M 2013) wheelchair-accessible toilets, and the ‘desirable’, additional, larger and better equipped Changing Places toilet facilities.

The concept has been developed to ensure that the personal hygiene needs of up to three million British children and adults* who need changing and lifting facilities for their personal care are met when away from home, as much as possible. It encompasses a 7m2+ (3m x 2.5m min) wheelchair-accessible toilet that further includes an adult-sized changing bench and a hoist.

12670878_831294093642939_7418528948173698631_nThe concept of Space To Change toilets is the brainchild of leading Changing Places campaigners. Clos-o-Mat, Britain’s leading supplier of disabled toilet solutions at home and away, has been instrumental in developing the Space To Change toilet layout, and working with campaigners and Firefly Community to promote the concept. Firefly Community, an online special needs resource, will drive the movement, supporting campaigners and raising awareness of the need for accessible toilets that include a height adjustable changing bench and hoist.

“So often, venues and organisations say they understand the need for a Changing Places toilet, but, in existing buildings, as it should be provided in addition to other accessible toilets, they haven’t the extra space- 12m2– or cannot afford the cost of potentially extensive building works to create the additional space, and the ancillaries and equipment,” explains campaigner Tony Clough.

Adds fellow campaigner Sarah Brisdion, “In an ideal world, we would always prefer to have a Changing Places, but Space To Change gives a viable alternative for providers constrained by space and/or money. It gives those places the opportunity to meet our needs, so we can relax when we do even routine things that most people take for granted- going into town, doing the weekly supermarket shop….

“Without these facilities, we either have to lie our loved one on the toilet floor- which you wouldn’t even expect to do with a baby- or we have to cut our trip short, or not go at all. Many wheelchair-accessible toilets are already big enough, so all that is needed to create a Space To Change, which gives everything needed, is the addition of the changing bench and hoist! Hopefully this new option will mean we will see many more venues we can access safe in the knowledge we can enjoy our visit like anyone else as there are suitable toilet facilities.”

Full details of the Space To Change concept, plus technical support, CAD blocks etc, can be found at www.clos-o-mat.com and http://community.fireflyfriends.com/campaigns/space-to-change .


* Potential users of a Space 2 Change toilet:

  • 1.5m wheelchair users
  • One in 10 people who have either bladder or bowel incontinence (around 1.2 million people aged 65+affected by faecal incontinence)
  • 1.5million people with a learning disability
  • 1.2million people living with stroke
  • up to 100,000 amputees
  • 30,000 children with cerebral palsy
  • 13,000 people with acquired brain injuries
  • 100,000 people with multiple sclerosis
  • 350,000 people with with a neural disease that means they need help with daily life
  • 75,000 people affected by spina bifida