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29 November 2020

Rufford Abbey Country Park

Rufford Abbey Country Park has opened a new toilet as part of the national ‘Changing Places’ campaign. A public toilet for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) and other people with severe disabilities who need the support of at least one carer, is now open at a Nottinghamshire County Council-managed country park. Managers at Rufford Abbey Country Park have upgraded existing facilities to feature a purpose-built Changing Places-standard toilet on site. 
Beth Foden and daughter Lowri, from East Leake, in Nottinghamshire, have campaigned for a number of years as part of the nationwide Changing Places Consortium drive for toilets in public areas for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets. Lowri has profound and multiple learning disabilities due to Rett syndrome. She is a wheelchair user with no independent mobility and needs complete 24-hour support with all aspects of her care. Her family includes dad Peter, and older siblings Elin and Huw.
Around 40,000 people with profound and multiple learning difficulties need Changing Places toilets in the UK – those with enough space and the right equipment, including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist.
Beth said: "We are delighted Rufford Abbey Country Park is to have a Changing Places toilet. Without these facilities, families have to change the person they care for on a cramped and dirty toilet floor. The alternative is to limit outings to a few short hours - or to not go out at all.
"Standard disabled toilets do not meet the needs of all people with a disability – or their carers and people with severe disabilities often need extra facilities to allow them to use the toilets comfortably.” 
Beth and Lowri, who have also been involved in campaigning for similar facilities in Nottingham city centre, are regular visitors at Rufford Abbey Country Park. They visit the park twice a year for a picnic other members of the Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire Rett UK family support group. 
Beth added: ""Without Changing Places toilets, days out can be a nightmare. We try to plan our days around being home for mealtimes because Lowri needs to go to the toilet, meaning we can only spend a few hours away from home. 
"We have a large mat which we carry around in case we have to change her when we are out, but have had some horrible experiences of dirty toilet floors where we have had to muddle through.” 
Linda Hardy, Parks Development Officer, at Rufford Abbey Country Park, said: "It's great that Rufford Abbey is to have a Changing Places toilet!  Not only does it make the park more accessible for all, but it will also make days out a bit easier for families and their carers who are visiting nearby.  They're welcome to come and use the park facilities, making Rufford a base from which to explore other North Nottinghamshire attractions.” 
Martin Jackaman, Changing Places consortium member said: ‘The impact of a Changing Places toilet on the quality of life for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities is significant. Knowing Rufford Abbey Country Park as I do I know what a difference this will make to children and adults with profound and multiple disabilities, their families and carers. I would like to congratulate the staff at Rufford and Nottinghamshire County Council for their incredible work in making this happen." The Changing Places campaign is run by the Changing Places Consortium. 

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