We had the privilege of opening a wonderful new Space to Change facility this week at Portsmouth International Port. The facility has a height-adjustable, adult-sized changing bench and room-tracking ceiling hoist, as well as peninsular toilet and extra space for mobility equipment and carers. We believe that Portsmouth is the first sea port in the world to offer these vital facilities for customers with additional needs. To say we are proud and happy about this is an understatement!
“Space to Change enables safe and dignified lifting, changing and toileting for those with complex needs.”
I recently brought it to the attention of the Port management that standard accessible toilets do not meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of people with severe disabilities or more complex needs. They were so shocked to hear this and even more so that people like my son, Hadley, (who has Cerebral Palsy and is a full-time wheelchair user), are faced with lying on dirty toilet floors to have pads or nappies changed. They were incredibly supportive and understood how undignified, dangerous and heartbreaking it is for so many people and wanted to change that as soon as possible.
Kalvin Baugh, Ferry Port Manager, said: “We felt very strongly that nobody should have to endure this and so worked closely with Sarah to find a solution to ensure our terminal is accessible to everyone.”
Not only is Portsmouth Port leading the way in accessibility for cruise and ferry customers, but they have also proven just how simple it is to make a huge difference. By joining an existing standard accessible toilet with a first aid room situated next door, the port has created the Space to Change with minimal amounts of building work and disruption. (The first aid room was able to be moved to another location).
Something as simple as some extra space, a bench and a hoist, is nothing short of life-changing for families like mine. It enables us to use the toilet when out in public – something that most of us understandably take for granted. We now have even more reason to choose travelling by ferry from Portsmouth, over any other port or airport. I cannot thank the Port management enough for understanding and helping to make such an important difference to the lives of so many people.
Kalvin Baugh added: “We pride ourselves on providing the very best for all of our customers. This is a wonderful facility, not only for those travelling to and from Portsmouth, but for the local community too.”
The facility is located on the ground floor of the terminal next to the ladies and gents toilets. It is accessible via Radar Key and is open from 6am to midnight, every day.