“I don’t want Emily-May’s future to be laid on a public toilet floor. I don’t want her future to be curtailing days out because she is too big for the facilities in a public place.” Lorna Fillingham is campaigning for adequate Changing Places complete with changing bench, hoist and enough space for carers, to be compulsory in public buildings before planning permission is granted.

The campaign to get specially adapted Changing Place toilets in new builds, hospitals, schools, shopping centres, and more, derives from the BS 8300:2009 legislation. It specifies ”the design of buildings and their approaches meet the needs of disabled people”, and recommends that Changing Places toilets should be provided in larger buildings and complexes. Lorna argues that this should be a compulsory piece of legislation rather than a recommendation.

Emily-May is six, she cannot stand or walk unaided and is non-verbal, at the moment she does not yet have a diagnosis. “I don’t really worry about it though as I don’t think having a diagnosis will change much."

“It was whilst on a day out that I had the realisation that I’m playing Russian roulette with the baby changing tables, as she is growing bigger. My only other option is to change her on the floor or leave her in a soaking pad; I don’t want to do either of these!"

Starting Point

“I think I was a bit naive when I first started the campaign, I thought ‘Oh I’ll start a petition and it will go viral.’ It obviously didn’t happen like that, it’s been a lot of hard work, at one point I was spending a few hours every night sharing the campaign and asking others to do the same. Now I have built up a following I use the follower’s comments to back up my statements when contacting Government ministers and Government organisations. I promised throughout the journey that I would take other people’s voices with me and I hope I have followed through with that."

"In the comments, one person told me that they self-medicate so that they don’t need the toilet when attending hospital outpatient appointments, others have said that they have to change their loved ones in the back of their cars, and some people just don’t go out. If a fully able person went to a shopping centre and there weren’t any toilet facilities they would be outraged. This is something that not only affects 250,000 individuals and their families but also teachers at SEN schools are limited as to where they can take their students and it's also a problem for paid carers taking their charges out into the community."

“Cost seems to be used as a barrier to implement these changes as is available space. The standard for a Changing Place facility is 12m2 (3m x 4m), the Changing Places consortium advise that you consult with them if space is limited. As a parent I would say that some facilities are better than no facilities at all, although the smaller the space the more people you potentially exclude.  In new builds there is no excuse for not providing a full Changing Places facility."

“My local council has really got on board, setting aside £90,000 to develop more Changing Places facilities, and they have also created a supplementary planning document with a clause that says that Changing Places should be included in all new builds. On the back of this success I teamed up with another campaigner, Sarah Brisdion of Hadley’s Heroes, together we emailed every council in the UK, 50 councils got back to us and said that they would, or already do, encourage developers to include Changing Places facilities. It has kind of taken over my life, once the kids go to bed this is what I do."

"I have also started a new spin off campaign supporting disabled outpatients and their visitors to use the loo with dignity. I am a little ashamed that in my 20 years as a nurse I didn’t notice the hospital I worked in didn’t have adequate changing facilities. I have emailed NHS England, and every individual acute hospital trust in the country. The response from NHS England was that they already provide reasonable adjustments throughout their hospitals. However there are currently only 30 hospitals in the UK with Changing Place facilities, this is not enough. NHS Property Services have given me their support, they look after 10% of NHS buildings, including small hospitals, health centers and some GP practices."

In it together

"I also support Firefly’s campaign Space to Change which is for existing buildings where there just isn’t the space for a full Changing Places facility. There are several other campaigns which I support: Sarah Brisdion’s campaign to get a Changing Places facility at Southampton Football Club and Martin Emery’s campaigning for them to be in every Football Club in the Premier and Championship leagues. Tony Clough is campaigning for Changing Places facilities to be included at all service stations. Samantha Buck is campaigning for them to be included in all town centres. Finally, Laura Moore has recently written an open letter to Marks & Spencer asking them to become the first fully inclusive store in the UK by providing Changing Places facilities."

“In the future I would like architects and Government to work together to ensure that building design does become fully inclusive. You can be a very able person with a disability but poor building design can actually disable and hinder a person to the extent that they cannot fully engage in society."

Support Lorna’s Campaign

Image owned by Clos-O-Mat