need2change campaign group in Bromley
Below is some information from the team behind the need2change campaign group in Bromley. Have a read and show them your support!
We are a friendly bunch of mums who live in the London Borough of Bromley. We all have children with complex needs (some of whom are on the brink of adulthood). When out and about in the local community we require the use of a hoist and / or changing table in order to tend to our children’s personal care needs safely and with dignity. We know other members of the community are in desperate need for these facilities too, and we would like to see appropriate toileting facilities in the community for all who need it.
In September 2018, as our children started back at school after the summer holidays, we met in a Chislehurst coffee shop and decided to form a group. We agreed that our aim would be one of raising awareness and changing things for the better for children and adults with complex disabilities and their families. We wanted to make a difference - a tangible difference in our communities. We wanted our children and others in our position to live fulfilled lives and enjoy all that our local communities have to offer, just the same as everyone else. We felt, and still feel, that being able to access the local community is fundamental to living happy, healthy and fulfilled lives.
That September morning we were planning to stay for 1 coffee. We nursed 2 coffees as we chatted and shared stories of some of the bizarre places we had tended to our children’s personal care needs - the boot of cars, the floors of public toilets, x-ray and consulting room tables, on a plane, in a field, huddled next to bushes. We laughed as we understood how much we all had in common.
A flurry of activity ensued beginning with deciding a name for our group and creating a logo. We produced an introductory flyer, set up our social media sites and came up with a name for our local Changing Places campaign #aweematter. We met with Bromley Community Links, launched at a local parent event and we were soon contacting and meeting with our local MP, local councillors, council officers and others who were in a position to make a difference. We devoured the incredibly helpful information on www.changing-places.org.
As a group we brainstormed places that we would love to be able to visit for the day, but couldn’t because we were restricted by a lack of appropriate facilities. But it wasn’t just about us and our families, we wanted to hear the views of other local people. We met with local groups who represent people with disabilities (Bromley Mencap and XbyX). We went on the hunt for ‘loo detectives’ who could share their views of where they would like to see better facilities for themselves or people they assisted or cared for. We invited local families to comment via our social media sites. We visited Bromley’s Riverside School, a special school, and spoke with the wonderful staff there. We met with Bromley Mencap’s Monday Afternooners and another small group facilitated by Bromley Well.
Our online #aweematter loo detective initiative was soon in full swing. It became apparent that there were so many places people wanted to be able to visit locally and so few Changing Places facilities. Suggestions for better facilities included garden centres, restaurants, hospitals, cinemas, local theatres, woods and parks. A Monday Afternooner shared a suggestion of Motability showrooms.
In addition to the lack of a hoist and height-adjustable bench, people commented about the often claustrophobic conditions within standard and disabled toilets and the excessively loud electric hand dryers, which are challenging for those with sensory processing difficulties. Similarly, we know it is incredibly difficult in cramped disabled toilets for those members of our society who need one, if not two, people to escort them. Sometimes a Changing Places facility with a changing bench is the only option for those with hidden learning disabilities too.
Our borough had one Changing Places facility in The Glades Shopping Centre for the public to use; a beautifully equipped and clean Changing Places facility at that, but only one, nevertheless. Our mission would be to ensure there were more. A fantastic Changing Places facility is now available at the Bromley Vue Cinema, which purports to be the first facility of its kind in a cinema-only building in the world. We can now see a film and go for something to eat locally, knowing that we will not have to cut the outing short due to the need to come home and change a soiled pad.
Our work continued.... We met with a Changing Places installer, our local hospital and a local Business Improvement District leader. We contacted the redevelopers of The Fairfield Halls in a neighbouring borough. We are delighted that there is going to be a Changing Places facility when that reopens. We have shared ideas with an event organiser about how to make community events more inclusive for children and adults with complex disabilities. We have secured a Mobiloo and wheelchair access at some of the upcoming events in our community. Our journey has just started - as at January 2019 our group is only 4 months old - but we are confident that our future will be fruitful. We are determined that children, adults and their families will be given the same chance as anyone else to live a fulfilled life.
Thank you for reading our story so far. We invite you to follow us on our social media sites (Twitter and Instagram: @need2change_uk; Facebook: need2change), share our journey and play a part in making our collective dreams a reality. Please do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org too - we’d love to hear from you.
Everyone we have met has been so supportive and we would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to them. We’d also like to say an especially big thank you to the CP Consortium and all the other campaigners for their inspiration and paving the way.
The lack of Changing Places in our community is not #aweematter.
Annie, Clare, Katrina, Kerry and Vicky