Launch of application process for Changing Places toilets
Today, marks the launch of the application process for motorway service stations across England to apply for funding to install Changing Places toilets. This funding project is being delivered in partnership between co-chairs of the Consortium, Muscular Dystrophy UK, and the Department for Transport. The £2million funding was made available by the Government as part of their Inclusive Transport Strategy which launched last Summer. The Strategy explicitly addressed the issue of Changing Places toilets because of the strong feedback they had during their consultation. We hope this funding will improve accessibility across the motorway network so that disabled people can travel with greater ease.
About the application process
Transport Accessibility Minister Nusrat Ghani said:
“Today marks the next step towards our ambition of delivering a fully inclusive transport network.
It is unacceptable that, despite welcome investment in some areas, our roadside services are not more accessible for over a quarter of a million people, and I am determined to do more.
Our partnership with MDUK will help ensure that everyone, disabled or not, can use our roads and I encourage as many operators as possible to apply for funding.”
The application form will be available online. The funding is restricted to motorway service stations in England. We hope that similar funding may be possible in the future across the rest of the UK and the wider road network.
The application deadline is July 12th 2019. Applications will then be reviewed and the results will be announced by the end of September 2019. As there is a limited amount of money available we will not be able to agree to fund all bids received.
If a service stations application is successful then 50% match funding will be payable by means of a single grant payment upon completion of the project. The operator will be responsible for all associated and ongoing maintenance costs.
Why is this such an important issue?
Increasing the number of Changing Places toilets at motorway service stations has been a focus of Changing Places campaigners and the Consortium for over a decade. Public transport is often inaccessible for many disabled people and their families meaning that travelling by car is often the preferred option. However, without Changing Places toilets at service stations the road network also becomes inaccessible.
The Consortium first had contact with Moto in 2010 and Martin Jackaman worked with them on Cherwell Valley refurbishment which became the first Changing Places toilet at a service station, opening in June 2011. Six years ago, Tony Clough MBE launched a Change.org petition 6 years ago. The petition gained 11,212 signatures and led to motorway service stations taking notice of the campaign and the importance of Changing Places toilets.
Commenting on the news Tony said:
“This is great news for the disabled people, families and friends who need Changing Places. Why do most of us stop at a motorways services? To use the loos! For many years we have had to lie my sister on the dirty floor of a standard disabled toilet. Currently only 22% of services have Changing Places which is very restrictive to many thousands of people. This news will certainly well received.”
In 2015, the Consortium and campaign sponsors, Aveso, met with the CEO of Welcome Break, which, along with campaigner pressure, led to Welcome Break opening their first Changing Places toilet in 2015. Then, 2 years ago, another petition was launched by Zack Kerr. Zack uses Changing Places toilets himself and was often having to be changed on dirty toilet floors or baby change tables. Zack’s petition gained 140,439 signatures in total. He even delivered it to Number 10 and raised awareness with MP’s and the media. He responded to the news along with his stepfather, Ceri:
“We are delighted to hear and share in the news today from the Department for Transport and the Changing Places Consortium, announcing the launch of the funding process, which enables Motorway Services Operators to apply for a share of the £2million pledged by the Government to install Changing Places facilities!
It has already been great to see the positive response from some Motorway Service operators in installing more of these facilities which are vital for over 260,000 disabled people and their families and carers in the UK. Without these facilities, many disabled people and their families simply cannot travel freely around the country having confidence that their basic toilet and hygiene needs are accommodated. Providing these facilities in public places up and down the country, is nothing short of ‘life-changing’ for so many people and there is still a long way to go to make all our towns, cities, shopping centres, transport hubs, entertainment, cultural and leisure facilities fully accessible to all.
We continue our campaign for Changing Places awareness and Zack would like to thank everyone who has supported him, his family, friends and fellow campaigners, up and down the country and all who have encouraged him in this successful campaign.”
Tony and Zack are just two of the campaigners who have been integral in making this funding possible. The Consortium is so grateful to every single campaigner who has helped make this funding a reality. It really will be life changing for so many families across the country.
What can you do?
Applications must come directly from the motorway service station or operator; you cannot nominate a service station or apply on their behalf. However, we would ask people to contact motorway service stations, particularly ones you might visit frequently when making a journey, and encourage them to apply for funding and provide a Changing Places toilet. Make sure you check the map first to double check they don't have one already.
You can get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org