Why my five year old understands what inequality is

Why my five year old understands what inequality is

The butterflies in the stomach, looking desperately forward to seeing your footie mates, the excitement for a fresh new season, catching a close up glimpse of your heroes, plenty of goals and if you’re lucky, 3 points to kick off the new season. I remember how it felt when I was a kid. How I lived and breathed football. I spent the entire school holidays depressed, looking in the sports pages of the newspapers and following all the signing news, just gagging for the middle of August to hurry up.

This is what hundreds of thousands of football fans will be feeling tomorrow morning. Waking up ecstatic that it’s match day and the start of the Premier League season. But not my little footie-mad boy. Because he is currently denied the joy of this experience, just because his beloved football club doesn’t have a toilet that he can use yet. This week he has been noticeably emotional and to say that I feel horrendous that he feels so left out and so different is the biggest understatement in the world. He is just five years old. He also happens to have a disability that means he is incontinent and cannot walk.

It’s not like we’ve not been asking. For the past year we’ve been shouting from the rooftops the desperate need for a Changing Places (a special toilet with an adult sized changing bench and hoist) at Southampton FC’s St Mary’s Stadium, along with many other fans, some of whom have been asking the club to install one for over 3 and a half years! I know, that’s right. That’s a long time to wait for a wee isn’t it.

Without the Changing Places, Hadley would have to lie on the toilet floor to have his toileting needs met. And that’s something that I just cannot bear to put him through. Have you seen the floor of a toilet in a football stadium?!

But he doesn’t care. He’s really cross with me. Because he wants to go. He wants to see his heroes and he would put up with that hideous situation, in fact he would barely bat an eyelid at it, because he is so used to having to go through it. He’s never known much else in his little life. And that breaks my heart into pieces. But what’s more, is what I can’t tell him. I can’t tell him that I can’t lift him on and off of the toilet floor and in and out of his wheelchair because my back hurts too much and I’m too scared I will drop him. I’m petrified I will hurt my back even more and not be able to care for him properly. I can’t tell him that because he will feel guilty. I can’t bear for him to feel guilty. It’s not his fault that he has a disability.

So I can’t let him go. It’s just not possible. I have to be ‘bad’ Mummy. I have to say no. When all I want to do is say screw it, I can’t let you miss out any more!!!

Perhaps I’m being unrealistic. Southampton FC seem to think so. Perhaps the football club called all the mobile toilet facilities last year and asked to hire one this season and there were none available. But if that’s the case, then why won’t they tell us that? Why are they just ignoring our cries for help? I’m pretty sure it’s because they didn’t. Because they didn’t think to make provisions for the start of the season. Because they think it’s ok for us to wait a bit longer. (Hey we’ve waited this long, what’s another few months?!).  But have you ever tried telling a five year old child to wait?? To wait for something they’ve dreamed of. And that all of their friends and family members don’t have to wait for? And really, when it comes to the safety and dignity of our children should they have to? Should that not be a given? In 2016. At the home of a multi-million pound Premier League football club? When a bit of cash and a phone call is probably all it would have taken to secure one. There were plenty of them at Glastonbury this summer, so I know they exist!

It’s not that I’m not over the moon that the club has finally said it will install a Changing Places facility after brushing it under the carpet for years. I am thrilled to have won that particular part of the battle. (Although they have still not said this publicly so I’m a little worried, not least because they continue to lie and say that I’m the only person to have ever asked for this facility!) But that doesn’t help me tomorrow at 3 o’clock when faced with the tears of my baby boy. The little boy who has more strength and determination and stamina already than I’ve ever had. He surely deserves more.

We have promised the kids a trip to the beach in the morning to try to take Hads mind off of football (and mine). A beach where there is a Changing Places, ice cream and hopefully sunshine and laughter. But we will all secretly be thinking about the score. Because despite everything. We want our team to win. We are red and white through and through. We are Southampton. And we’ll still celebrate a win like every other supporter and brush off anything else (cause hey, it’s a long season right, the first game means nothing!!)

I’ve been overwhelmed by public support for us in our plight to get Changing Places everywhere, but none more so than this particular campaign. Even Hadley’s five year old friends have joined him hand in hand to show solidarity for their school pal, whom they’d already do anything for. But five year olds have more empathy than grown ups. I’m learning that fast.

I feel so sad tonight. I had to write this down to get it out of my system. I’m asking myself a lot of searching questions. Perhaps I put too much importance on this? I know that it feels worse to us, because we are living it, than it would to any business. I know I didn’t understand that people had to go through this until I went through it myself. And when I look at what is going on I almost feel like giving up. Because Hadley has worked so hard to over come his insecurities and anxieties and this may well have pushed him backwards. Because he is a clever, intelligent little man who understands all of what is going on. Even when we try to hide our upset and anger. And I feel hugely responsible for that. I didn’t go into this thinking it would take forever. I thought once people knew that disabled children and adults had to lie on toilet floors they would make changes immediately. But now we are knee deep in this battle, it’s almost impossible for him to not understand what inequality is. For him to not feel like he’s worth less than other people because he is incontinent and comes with a few extra needs and wheels. That’s a huge deal. And I’m struggling with that.

But who’s fault is that?

If I didn’t try to change the world and just let him continue to lie on the floor he would never know any different. But it’s catch 22. What would you do? Nothing and let your child lie in urine and learn in the long run that it’s degrading or fight and try to manage their emotions as they understand more immediately that much of the world still treats disabled people like second class citizens?

Emotional times.  #coyr #saintsfc #changingplaces #wefighton2


Portsmouth International Port becomes the first sea port in the world to become truly accessible.

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).

loo3Something 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.

Changing Places on the beach is a revelation!


It’s so nice to be able to report good news. And this is just a real quickie as it’s the school holidays tomorrow and I have to get so much done today without the kids at home. But I just wanted to give a big shout out and thank you to Bournemouth Borough Council – specifically to the facilities at Boscombe Beach! Thank you for providing us with the best beach day ever this weekend!

Boscombe1A Changing Places on the beach, accessible beach huts and beach wheelchairs! What a revelation! Having the toilet with hoist and change bed (and shower) meant we could spend an entire day at the beach on Sunday with our friends. No more laying in the back of the car or on the toilet floor (gross – imagine laying on the floor of a beach public loo??). The smile on the kids’s faces absolutely said it all!

To find out more about Boscombe Beach and the facilities they offer for disabled visitors, click here.


Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.

For families like mine, it can sometimes be so hard to find things to do on a rainy day. Many of my friends bundle into soft play centres or go swimming and throw themselves down flumes. Their kids are kept amused and their sanity vaguely in tact. But for us, soft play and swimming is no good. With a severely disabled child who is not mobile, soft play chaos is simply inaccessible. Swimming pools are too cold and exasperate Hadley’s condition! So the cinema, watching a lovely family, feel-good movie whilst gorging on popcorn and a few (well ok, a lot) of sweets, is one of the only activities that we can do on a rainy day as a family. We all love movies. And with wheelchair accessible screens, you wouldn’t think it would be difficult for us would you?

But it is. Because the movie experience is not a quick one. Especially with the length of the trailers added on. So you are looking at around 3 hours in the cinema sometimes. And with fizzy drinks (don’t judge me) and small children, that usually means several trips to the toilet (annoying, but inevitable). But what happens when there is no toilet for your child to use? “What? Why would there be no toilet?” I hear you ask. Well of course there are ladies and gents toilets. And there is probably an ambulant disabled toilet too. But for people like my son, Hadley, who has a severe physical disability and who has to wear nappies, there is nothing. He needs an adult-sized changing bench and hoist to be able to access the toilet. But these don’t exist in cinemas.

A very good friend of mine recently contacted Cineworld to ask why and to appeal to them to help us change this, so that our families can visit the cinema and enjoy the experience others get to frequently enjoy. The response she got was beyond shocking and was really not what she was expecting.

She was told by Mr Ed Thompson, Customer Experience Manager of Cineworld, that he believed the inclusion of a Changing Places facility at new builds was not classed as a “reasonable adjustment”, due to the cost associated with Changing Places. Yet Cineworld’s last published pre-tax profit was £67.3m!

Mr Thompson didn’t seem to understand why we felt we needed toilets within his cinema complexes. Using the Brighton Cineworld as an example, he stated there was a Changing Places a “mile away” that disabled customers could use!

I mean honestly, this is a ridiculous statement Mr Thompson! Can you imagine it. Half way through the movie, the inevitable happens: Disabled son: “Mummy, I need changing, I’ve done a poo in my nappy!” Parent: “Thank you for telling me darling. Don’t worry, we’ll just walk in the rain for about half and hour to the Changing Places facility the other side of town. If we’re lucky we might get back to watch the final credits to see who played your favourite character. I know, even though you’ve been waiting to see this amazing movie for months, since your little face lit up when you first saw the trailer on the telly, that you didn’t really want to see all of it did you sweetheart. I mean, you get the gist of the story, who wants to see them live happily ever after anyway? Your father and sister can tell you what happens. Come on, let’s go.”

I mean, what the actual heck! How on earth is this a viable option for us? Yes, we all have to miss a few minutes with kiddies, by quickly running to the loo mid film, it is unfortunately one of those things. But toileting for a child with a severe disability takes long enough as it is, without adding a hike into the equation! And if your child does have the ability to use the toilet, and it’s not a case of changing a nappy, it would be by the time you actually reached the loo over a mile away!!

So we either have to lay our children on toilet floors to change them, or not have a lovely day out at the pictures! And let’s not forget that I’m not just talking about children here. There are thousands of adults who have needs like these too, for whom it is even more difficult to change on a toilet floor.


I think they really need to think wisely before making statements like this. And employ a decent PR agency to boot!

What makes matters worse, is that Cineworld is currently in the process of Building a brand new 93,000 square foot Multiscreen Cinema complex at Burgess Hill, in which they have flatly refused to include a Changing Places facility! Even though to include one on the plans would be so easy and the cost to them way less than they would make in revenue from families like mine over the coming years.

If you feel as upset about this as I do, and you’d like to help us fight for the right to use the loo at the cinema, then please feel free to pop along to Cineworld’s Facebook and Twitter Pages and let them know how you feel. I have.

Let’s just hope this story eventually has a happy ending.



Complaint made to Southampton FC about discrimination

So, the end of the football season is here. And what an end it has been, with Southampton qualifying for Europe. Brilliant performances from everyone on the pitch. I have one very happy family of Saints’ fans. Including Hadley, who is so excited about the success of his football club and wears his red and white with pride!

saintskidsBut off the pitch is a very different story.

Still we have no news at all from Southampton FC about installing suitable changing and toilet facilities for their disabled customers. Which I find more than disappointing. To sit and watch my little boy sob because he can’t go and watch his team live at St Mary’s stadium, is heart-wrenching!  He endures so much, more than any five year old child should have to cope with. All he wants to do is be able to go and watch his team with his friends and family, just like any other footie loving kid.

And why shouldn’t he? Because of a loo. That’s crazy isn’t it? For the sake of a few quid and a different type of toilet, a multi-million pound football club are basically saying he is not welcome. Is this really the world we live in? Do they really have no compassion?

13151830_10208618530236979_6997692196118743785_nFootball is about being together as one because we all love the same thing right? Well apparently not if you have a severe disability. We are not currently part of that wonderful family. We don’t matter.

The clock is ticking now. We need a Changing Places facility at St Mary’s stadium for the start of next season. The club needs to say yes and get on with it. It’s urgent!

It pains me to have to make it formal, but I have had to make an official complaint now to the club about discrimination. That’s a big, bold statement. But one that I feel is justified.

I want to be able to tell my gorgeous little boy that his dreams can come true and he can go to St Mary’s with his grandparents, his nephew, his uncles, his sister and me, and watch his heroes.

Today I sent this letter to the club. On behalf of Hadley. But also on behalf of every Saints fan who needs these facilities. We are not alone in this. There are loads of us and our voices will be heard!

Dear Mr Rogers


Please accept this letter as a formal complaint of discrimination arising from disability and a failure to make a reasonable adjustment by Southampton Football Club.

Further to my letters to the Chairman, dated 8 January 2016 and my subsequent letter to which I have never had a reply, dated 22 February 2016, and previous letters and emails dated 15 Jan 2013, Apr 12 2013, 27 Jun 2013, 26 Aug 2014, 11 Sep 2014, 6 Jan 2015, 19 Jul 2015 and 15 Sept 2015 from my fellow football supporter Mr Tony Clough, pointing out the urgent requirement for ‘Changing Places’ facilities at St Mary’s Stadium, you have failed to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your disabled supporters/customers.

Currently without a Changing Places toilet facility (with adult-sized adjustable changing bench and hoist, space for carers and large mobility equipment) my son Hadley, who is registered disabled and has Cerebral Palsy, has been forced to lie on urine-soaked toilet floors to have his nappy changed when visiting St Mary’s Stadium. He has also had to be dangerously lifted from his wheelchair manually in order to do so. Now that he is too heavy to lift in this manner, he is being forced to stay away entirely and is not able to visit to watch a live match at all, because you do not provide a suitable toilet and changing facility for him. This is extremely distressing for both Hadley and myself, as his mother, and is causing a tremendous amount of stress on both of us.

You provide toilets within St Mary’s Stadium for all other supporters/customers and so are not treating all customers equally. Not making reasonable adjustments and adding suitable facilities for those with more complex needs is discriminatory. Due to the length of time that you have been aware of this dangerous situation (over 3 years) and have not found a suitable solution, I feel the only way to progress now is to make a formal complaint.

The Equality Act 2010 (the Act) states my son is protected against unlawful discrimination by you as a service provider because of his disability.

Discrimination arising from disability is defined in the Act as:

  • Unfavourable treatment, because of something arising in consequence of that person’s disability, and
  • It cannot be shown that the treatment is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim (‘objective justification’).

The way in which my son has been treated cannot be objectively justified as reasonable adjustments were not put in place for him.

Under the Equality Act 2010, as a service provider, not only do you have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for an individual who is at a substantial disadvantage at that time due to their disability, you also have to take positive steps to ensure that you anticipate the needs of potential disabled customers before they access your service.

It may be that you:

  • Change a provision, criterion or practice
  • Change a physical feature, and/or
  • Provide an auxiliary aid.

If it is reasonable for you the service provider to make an adjustment then it must be made. A failure to comply with this duty could be unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

The adjustment which I consider that you have failed to make, is the installation of suitable toilet and changing facilities for disabled customers at St Mary’s Stadium; specifically an adult-sized changing bench or trolley, hoisting equipment and adequate space in order to undertake personal care and toileting needs for those with complex needs.

I would like you to respond to me in writing within 7 days from receipt of this letter with a view to resolving my complaint. In your response I would also like you to explain why you failed to make the reasonable adjustments and confirm that a suitable factiity for disabled supporters will be available for the start of the 2016/17 football season.


Yours sincerely

Mrs Sarah Brisdion

On behalf of Hadley Brisdion.



It’s not difficult to be inclusive

I don’t like to rant and rave too much, but sometimes….. The next time a multi-million pound retailer, business, sports venue, tourist attraction, local authority, NHS trust etc tells me it’s too difficult to install a changing facility to cater for disabled visitors or customers, I’d like to say (shout) this to them.

“It’s not difficult! Yes it takes a bit of investment (but not huge) and consideration. And yes sometimes that takes time and it may inconvenience you just a tiny bit, for a short time. But it’s really not that difficult. 

Difficult is having to sit in your own bodily waste or lay in somebody elses to have a nappy changed.
Difficult is having a disability or illness that prevents you from doing the things you love.
Difficult is having to manage your health or somebody elses, keeping them alive with medication and equipment when you are not even a doctor or nurse.
Difficult is living in a world where society doesn’t appreciate that you cannot help that you have a few extra needs, even though you would love to be able to change that.
Difficult is having to keep quiet about this stuff because you are too embarrassed to discuss your toileting needs in public with perfect strangers or never going out because you fear the state of the facilities you will be faced with.
Difficult is having a disability or illness that restricts or shortens your life.
Difficult is watching somebody you love have to endure any of this.
Difficult is what hundreds of thousands of people living with disabilities face every day and they very rarely complain about it.

It’s easy actually. In the big scheme of things.

‪#‎spacetochange‬ ‪#‎benchandhoist‬ ‪#‎changingplaces‬ ‪#‎flushdiscrimination‬‪ #‎weallneedtopee‬

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


Longdown Activity Farm Opens Changing Places facility.

It’s open, and it’s changing lives already!  We had the honour of opening the facility at our beloved Longdown Activity Farm in Ashurst, on 12  March, which, rather fittingly, was Disabled Access Day.

Hadley cut the ribbon, alongside Sam Burnage, aged 9.


For those who have not been following the progress of the facility, it’s been a labour of love for all concerned. Hadley’s family, friends and friends of the farm have all played a huge role, from helping us to shovel manure to raise funds for the facility, to physically painting and building it!

There are so many people to thank, including everyone who has bought a raffle ticket (or ten!), the member of the Dung Heap Challenge Teams and their families and friends who sponsored them, Storage Onside Solutions in Marchwood for providing the container free of charge, The Saxon Inn in Calmore for raising over £1800 towards the cost through various events, Crown Paint in Millbrook for providing all the paint, brushes and equipment we needed, the plumber, builders and electricians for all going above and beyond, providing work free of charge wherever possible…

IMG_3373…Hadley’s grandparents and other family members, for all picking up brushes and painting, helping with prizes and selling tickets for raffles like their lives depended on it, my brother for making the bespoke door for the unit and making sure it was ready in time and Pete, my step-dad and Hadley’s grandad, for working non-stop to convert the container and making it into an incredible room as well as fixing every problem we came up against in his usual ‘laid back, nothing is too much trouble’ style.  To the lovely Nina Lazarski, for pulling off a wonderful piece of art for the inside at such short notice (and for the future murals she is going to paint),  Kelvin at Clos-o-mat for supplying the kit inside and sharing in the sleepless nights and worry of getting this finished in time and of course Bryan and Dawn the owners of the farm,  for their commitment and support of this project, despite the huge financial investment. Everyone has been incredible and the result is something very special that will always be the very first Changing Places facility that I personally helped to create. There are so many more people I need to add too that have donated anonymously or supplied prizes, provided advice and asked favours, the list is endless and you will always be remembered.


The responses on the Longdown Activity Farm Facebook page say it all. I’ve never seen so many people say thank you for a toilet! And to read about families who can now attend the farm who previously were unable to answers all of my prayers and just confirms why we do this.

Thank you Longdown Activity Farm for leading the way and showing others exactly how it is done!