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Campaign for Students

16th Jun 2021

Changing Places and the NUS

The Changing Places campaign worked with NUS to try and get Changing Places toilets installed at University and College campuses.  The addition of fully accessible toilets would benefit students, staff and visitors and increase the opportunities available to people who require Changing Places facilities and would help improve access to education for these people.

In 2011, the NUS called on students unions around the country to take The Access Challenge and lobby their universities to improve accessibility on their campus. At the end of the year the NUS recognised the most improved union at their annual awards ceremony, naming Manchester Students Union as the union with the most improved access.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done to improve accessibility on campuses around the country and there are still few universities in the UK that have installed Changing Places facilities on their campus. To help improve the situation you can get involved with the Changing Places Campaign and lobby your university to install Changing Places on their campus. 
Why should universities and colleges install Changing Places on campuses?
Not having a Changing Places toilet on campus means that anyone who studies at, works at or visits a University or College campus and requires such facilities has to be changed on the floor of a public toilet.  This is an undignified and unhygienic experience that nobody should have and would discourage people from applying to or going to College and/or University. 

Providing a Changing Places toilet on campus would make a fundamental difference to the lives of thousands of people who desperately need these facilities. The greatest impact will be opening up higher and further education to many disabled people who might have thought that the barriers of poor provision are stopping them from achieving their full potential.

As seen with some existing Changing Places toilets, employers have seen a benefit for the workforce, in particular for staff whose needs are met by a Changing Places toilet. Likewise, Changing Places facilities would make campuses more accessible for family and friends of students and staff, as well as improving access for visitors to the university, college or business on campus. Furthermore, by having the facility available, the campus will be able to offer a fully accessible venue for hire for conferences and events. All of which can bring commercial benefits from having the provision.

Why should students unions get involved?
Local pressure from student activists within the institution is vital to achieving our goal of getting Changing Places installed on campuses across the country. Student’s unions can help mobilise this pressure by highlighting access issues faced by many disabled students, educating students about changing places and their importance, and mounting their own campaigns to get Changing Places installed on their campuses. Students unions can also consider installing Changing Places within their own venues and facilities, opening up access to student union facilities and services to students with higher access needs. Students unions can provide vital tools for disabled student activists to organise campaigns on accessibility issues, and make their voices heard by university officials on these issues.

Click here to find out more via the NUS website.

How to get involved
We need students to support this campaign and apply pressure on their University or College union to take on the Access Challenge and install a Changing Places toilet.

You can help to improve the accessibility of University and College campuses by:

• Writing to your union
You can download a template letter to send to your union telling them about both the Access Challenge and the Changing Places campaigns and asking them to commit to improving their unions accessibility for disabled people.

• Running a campaign
Find out about how you can campaign with our campaign pack

• Telling people about the campaign
Spread the word about the Access Challenge and the Changing Places campaign and encourage others to support the cause.