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Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson opens Changing Places in Middlesbrough

27th Apr 2016

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson opens Changing Places in Middlesbrough

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson led the opening of Middlesbrough's first Changing Places toilet, marking the culmination of several years of campaigning by groups around the town.

Baroness Grey-Thompson, who is now a People’s Peer, has been involved in campaigning to get Changing Places facilities in towns and cities across the UK.

She said: “It is an absolute pleasure to open a Changing Places facility in Middlesbrough.
“I am so pleased that the local council has recognised the needs of disabled people.
“Changing Places make a real difference to people with disabilities and their carers.
“I hope this facility improves the lives and opportunities available to many people in the town and the wider Tees Valley.”

The campaign for a Changing Places toilet started because too many disabled people in Middlesbrough could not enjoy getting out and about due to the lack of suitable facilities or they had to struggle with existing public toilets.

The nearest public Changing Places facilities to Middlesbrough were in Northallerton, Durham and Gateshead.

The need for a Changing Places toilet in Middlesbrough was identified by groups such as the Senior Citizens Forum and the Learning Disability Partnership Board along with Middlesbrough Council.

A Steering Group, established in August 2008, consulted with community groups, local health partners and local authorities that already have Changing Place toilets.

The group contacted Middlesbrough schools and Children’s Units where there are children with disabilities to get input and advice from children, families and carers as well as Teesside Ability Support Centre.

Access to the Changing Places toilet in the bus station will be run on a free membership system with members getting a fob to access the facility.

This is to ensure that only people who really need to use the facility can access it. The membership scheme will be operated by Shopmobility.

The existing accessible toilets in the bus station have also had a face-lift as part of additional improvement work.

Councillor Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Social Care, said: “It is great to open our very own Changing Places toilet in Middlesbrough Bus Station.

“This day is the culmination of a long campaign and a great deal of hard work and effort by a whole range of groups and individuals.

“The Changing Places toilet will help enhance the lives of the most vulnerable and severely disabled members of our community and make the lives of their carers much easier and less stressful.

“The facilities and shops in Middlesbrough town centre will now be so much more accessible for many families.”