Changing Places

New Changing Places Facility is Opens

After months of waiting Colchester’s newest Changing Places toilet facility for people with complex care needs was opened in the town centre library this morning.


It is estimated that there are ¼ million people in the UK who for one reason or another cannot use a standard disabled toilet. This can include people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as some elderly people.

Local resident Scott Everest, whose 13 year old son Johnnie is physically disabled and attends Lexden Springs School, has been campaigning for the past 18 months for this new facility that will make visits to the town centre less stressful for those who may need to use it, as well as for their families and careers.

Scott has been helped by Essex County Council Councillor Sue Lissimore, who is also Scotts Colchester Borough Council ward Councillor in Prettygate. Sue worked hard to access funding from Essex County Council for the equipment and construction and liaised with Colchester Borough Council who agreed to clean and maintain it.

The new Changing Places, which is about the size of a single garage to give the user and anyone accompanying them plenty of space that a standard toilet doesn’t provide, includes a height adjustable changing bench, a hoist that can be moved around the room on runners affixed to the ceiling, a privacy screen and height adjustable sink.


The ribbon cutting ceremony was carried out by Councillor John Aldridge the Chairman of ECC, and attended by Johnnie, Sue, and Scott. A clearly delighted Scott told us after the brief ceremony: “My family and son are so grateful for the changing places facility in Colchester library, my thanks go out to Sue Lissimore my Councillor for securing funding with the Essex County council short breaks team led by the hard working Up Mason. I would also like to thank Colchester Borough Council for agreeing to look after the cleaning and on-going maintenance of the facility. It brings a sense of family life where now, as a family we can all visit town together and address sanitary needs without having to change my son on a cold, hard, wet and urine soaked floor.”

Well done Scott and Sue for making a difference to the lives of many!

You can watch the ceremony HERE on the Colchester 101 Facebook.

Simon Crow

Equality for People with Disabilities in Colchester

 

The Equality Act 2010 legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.

For those who are not familiar with the the act, it recognises nine ‘protected characteristics’ with disability being one of them. The others are:

  • age
  • being or becoming a transsexual person
  • being married or in a civil partnership
  • being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

In a nutshell it protects people who have a disability from discrimination in the workplace and wider society. It builds on the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995.

One provision relating to Disability is harmonising the thresholds for the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

It goes even further, under The Equality Act 2010 section 20 there is a duty:

“Where a provision, criterion or practice of A’s puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to relative matters of comparison with persons who are no disabled, to take such steps as it is reasonable to avoid the disadvantage”


My aim is a challenge that the refurbishment of toilet facilities in Castle Park in Colchester should include Changing Places toilets, so that people with disabilities can enjoy the same advantages of toilet facilities as those who are able bodied.

The debatable point will always be, is it reasonable?

In my opinion Castle Park provides playground facilities and sensory experiences for people with disabilities. These facilities are also enjoyed by able bodied children and adults. They enjoy toilet facilities to compliment their experience, so therefore it is reasonable to have equality for people with disabilities and additional sanitary needs to also have the same provision.

I will be bringing this to the attention of Colchester Borough Council, and have already started initial discussions through the back channels with several key council figures to gauge reaction.


In 1970 Lord Morris wrote what was referred to as the ‘Magna Carta’ for the disabled, and he soon became the First UK minister for the Disabled in 1974 (the year I was born). It faced heavy opposition from within his own party and his vision almost died when Harold Wilson PM called a General Election.

He was successful in making Britain the first country in the world to make a law to improve access and support for people with disabilities.

We should be proud of that.

The 1986 Disabled persons act and later the 1995 Disabled Discrimination Act built on Lord Morris’ original vision. It was not until the mid 1990’s that we started to see Disabled Toilets for people in wheelchairs start to become commonplace in public spaces and businesses.


As a nation we have only had Wheelchair accessible toilets for just over 20 years. It is my vision that we complete the circle and go further to include Changing Places toilets, and that in 10 years time Changing Places are commonplace across the UK.

I will also challenge Colchester Borough Council to fully endorse changing places to make Colchester not only a sanctuary town for refugees, but also for people with disabilities and all other characteristics of the Equalities Act.

Previously published on MEDIUM.

Scott Everest