Or otherwise (more aptly) entitled
I’m supporting Firefly Garden’s Space to Change Campaign
Public loo’s and proper changing spaces for people with disabilities…they’re on the radar at present and rightly so.
And I think it’s about time we all united and got things sorted.
We live within an increasingly ageing population. Recent statistics suggest that some kids born now will reach 100 years old and, let’s be realistic here, most of us may well just need someone else’s help just to get through the day, if or when, we get older.
So this is an issue which could pretty much affect us all. Not just those of us who have disabled children.
No matter how you wrap the text up and put a bow on it, every single one of us on the planet has to evacuate the waste from our bodies on a regular basis – Fact! Some of us are lucky enough to be able to do it ourselves. Some of us need some help from other people.
So, I have a little (imaginary) experiment for you…are you game?…
Ok, so, close your eyes…in fact, no, perhaps best if you don’t close your eyes or you’ll never read the next bit.
Right, here’s the thing…just imagine you’re out shopping for a new book, a fabulous frock or some gorgeous shoes or twigs (twigs?). Once you’ve done all your shopping, go and find a public toilet.
You found one? Brilliant!
Now, have a look and see if there’s a cubicle specifically for disabled people.
There is? Hey, you’ve hit the jackpot. Well done!
Next step: go inside and lock the door.
What’s it look like? Is it just a bigger cubicle than the others with a loo and a maybe a grab rail by the side of it?
Right, remember you’re still imagining this so…take your coat off. Oooh!, nowhere to hang your coat, huh? Never mind. Just put your handbag/manbag/shopping bags and coat on the floor. It’s ok, it’s not THAT wet or dirty.
Now, kneel on the floor….Don’t worry, you’ll be out of there in a minute….you’ll be fine.
Had enough? Ok. You can go wash your hands now.
What? No sink in the cubicle? Oh dear. And your hands are all dirty now. Ew!
You can unlock the door then and go wash your hands. Oh no! No soap in the dispenser. That’s really unfortunate.
Ok, imaginary task over. Well done guys.
But just imagine you were changing your disabled child’s nappy and/or clothes in there or worse: what if there’s no disabled toilet available? And you had to use a regular (and often tiny) loo. My daughter’s now too big to change on a regular baby changing mat so I have to change her on the floor. Believe me, it’s not fun.
Not fun at all.
There’ve been times when I’ve actually changed Hannah on the grass outside in a public space (on a warm day – obviously!) or even in my car, just to avoid going into a filthy loo – and I know I’m not alone on that one. On a few occasions, where I couldn’t find anywhere at all that we didn’t run the risk of catching something, I’ve waited until we’ve got home to change her. How bad is that? How undignified and uncomfortable too.
My child doesn’t deserve that. Nor does anyone else for that matter because there’s also tens of thousands of adults (millions worldwide) with congenital and acquired physical and learning disabilities in exactly the same boat as we are. There are lots of adults out there with disabilities who can’t weight bear and need one or two people to help them get on and off the toilet, or people who need supervision or are incontinent and need a place to change their pads or empty their catheters or colostomy bags.
Since we started our journey I’ve noticed that there are many people with disabilities, special needs mamas and daddies (and carers) that silently just get on with things, without grumbling, using our creativity. We all manage as best we can. But to be perfectly honest, I think it’s about time that we stopped ‘managing’ and being creative and were given the opportunity to function like everyone else.
I’m sick and tired of feeling like I want to scrub my skin with bleach after coming out of an unsanitary privvy, or (on the rare occasions) we go out and I’m wearing something nice I’d much rather not feel like I have to tuck my skirt in my knickers just so it doesn’t waft along the floor and soak something nasty up (note to self: must ALWAYS remember to untuck when I exit the loo!). And I’d especially like a decent, clean, adequate space for when I need to don the goggles, breathing apparatus and protective clothing to clean Hannah up after her bottom has exploded…and somewhere to hygienically deposit the nappy and half a ton of used wet wipes afterwards.
Sorry if you’re squeamish….or eating…but it is what it is.
I don’t want a toilet up a flight of stairs.
I don’t want to change my child on the floor.
I don’t want a toilet cubicle that’s the size of a hamster cage where I bash my head or hip on the loo roll holder.
I don’t want to scrape my knuckles down a corridor whilst pushing Hannah’s wheelchair just to get to the loo.
Or anything else for that matter.
You know what would be nice? Well, let’s start with…
Clean, hygienic, large cubicles where there’s room enough to accommodate the biggest wheelchair on the market and room enough for 2 other people. I want suitable changing equipment for children and adults. I want soap and water (HOW GREEDY OF ME!). I want replenished paper towels. I want a bin to dispose of nappies etc. and somewhere off the floor to put a changing bag/coats etc. I’d ideally like a hoist. I’d like a changing bed with rolls of disposable paper and some antibacterial spray so I can clean up for the next person who uses the loo.
I want a lot don’t I?
Now don’t get me wrong, I totally get that it’s unrealistic to expect that every public building accommodates disabled people and their carers. I totally get that it’d cost companies and local authorities lots and lots of money and in this current economic climate of ‘savings and efficiencies’ i.e. jobs and service cuts, it isn’t exactly a sexy topic that’d be a huge vote puller. But I can’t apologise for any of that and I’m entitled to my opinion and express my experiences. Hence this post.
I’m not asking for Molton Brown hand wash with matching hand cream in there….nor am I asking for peppermints and a coiffured and uniformed toilet attendant who hands you a fresh, warm Egyptian 100% cotton hand towel and sprays you with perfume…although I wouldn’t say no! I am known to be rather partial to a bit of Molton Brown. Mmmmmm.
But let’s start in big buildings. Like hospitals for instance. If I took Hannah to an appointment there’d more than likely be nowhere decent to change her…IN A HOSPITAL FOR HEAVENS SAKE!!! I’d like at least one changing space/loo in every hospital, town centre, shopping centre, motorway service station, airport, large public building specifically for disabled people and their carers.
According to Firefly Garden survey, “97% of families said that changing their child is a problem, 86% said they had to leave a venue early and 99% of families are more likely to visit a venue with better facilities”.
It’s not me being picky then, is it?
All that said, I have to say that there is one place that we’ve visited on our travels that totally blew my socks off…well, not literally, but you get the gist…and that was Gloucester service station….it has THE most AMAZING facilities and it was spotlessly clean. Now I’m going to sound like a bit of a saddo here, but I was so impressed that I emailed the company to commend them for their thoughtfulness (I’ve never done THAT before!). I got a lovely email back from them and it was clear that they want ALL visitors to have a nice experience – Hoorah! Their food is really rather yummy too! Oh, and their shop is to die for. Unfortunately, they’re not on the doorstep.
Sorry, I digress….
What I’d really like is for EVERYONE to have a bit of dignity and somewhere where they don’t just ‘manage’ or ‘get by’.
I’ve always said that no-one is exempt from acquiring a disability. Ergo, no-one is exempt from needing a decent, clean loo or changing space.
So, I’m asking you to get behind the Firefly Space to Change campaign – a campaign set up specifically to help businesses make practical changes and provide Special Needs Families with Space to Change.
Let’s make a difference.
Please nip over to Firefly Garden www.community.fireflyfriends.com/campaigns/space-to-change and press the “Support this Campaign” button.
All it’d take is just a couple of clicks with your index finger. It’s that simple…even simpler than dialling for a pizza!
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time
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