As part of our Weeks of Action campaign, we have dedicated today (15th April) to raise awareness of Changing Places. Here Michael Le Surf, Changing Places Development Officer at Mencap blogs for us about Changing Places at football stadia:
The Changing Places Consortium was launched almost ten years ago in 2006 and the first Changing Places toilets registered at football stadia were at Preston North End and Tranmere Rovers back in 2010.
Changing Places are toilets with a changing bench, hoist and plenty of space for people to be supported to meet their personal needs. (More details on the national website www.changing-places.org )
In 2014 we registered the 600th Changing Places toilet at the Emirates stadium home of Arsenal Football Club which was installed by our campaign sponsors Aveso. The official opening took place at the league match against West Ham Utd and was attended by Leroy Binns who works for Mencap on the Changing Places campaign and Channel 4 presenter Alex Brooker. This was the first Premier League club to install a Changing Places toilet and the venue went on to win the People’s Choice Changing Places Award for 2014 voted by Changing Places campaigners across the UK.
Wembley Stadium also has a Changing Places toilet so people who need them can now see international matches and other events.
Without these facilities many football fans with profound and multiple learning disabilities (and others who need a Changing Places toilet) have to either stay at home, wear soiled continence pads, leave the match early or suffer the indignity of having to get changed on dirty toilet floors.
This was the experience for Simon, a young Cambridge and Manchester Utd supporter with a profound learning disability, epilepsy and scoliosis. Before Manchester United installed a Changing Places toilet, Simon’s support worker said, ‘I think Simon would love to see Manchester United play or go to an England match but that is not a possibility. There is no way we could travel that distance and then go to a stadium without a suitable changing facility – we would be stranded!’
The Manchester United facility was also installed by Aveso and was the 800th Changing Places to be registered in the UK earlier this season This followed Aveso’s involvement in the installation at Liverpool FC at the end of 2014.
The Olympic Stadium has two Changing Places toilets so West Ham Utd will also have the facilities needed for their fans when they move grounds to Stratford in August this year.
More and more clubs are getting involved with the campaign and we are pushing for all remaining Premier League, Championship and other clubs to install.
Without Changing Places toilets at their venues, clubs are excluding many football fans and their families from seeing their teams play on match days.
Lloyd Page also works at Mencap and supports the Changing Places campaign. He said, “I would like to see Changing Places available at all football clubs for people who need them. As a Chelsea fan I would like to make sure that my club fully supports the campaign and installs a Changing Places as soon as possible.”
There are now almost 850 registered Changing Places toilets and we are delighted to support Level Playing Field’s Changing Places Day during their Weeks of Action Campaign. We look forward to registering more Changing Places across theUKin the coming months and years.
Find your nearest Changing Places using the national map and register here: http://changingplaces.uktoiletmap.org/