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Changing places change lives

Why do we need Changing Places?

Did you know that more than a quarter of a million people in the UK can’t use a standard accessible toilet? This may be because they need a hoist to transfer them to the toilet, or a bench to get changed on; perhaps they can only transfer from their wheelchair to the toilet from one particular side; or maybe they need space around the toilet to fit their wheelchair and an assistant, and a screen to ensure their privacy.


That’s probably around 40 people in Dunbar, including many of our families’ children. My son Benji grew too heavy for a baby-changing table when he was around three years old! That meant if we wanted to go out and about we had to change him in public view in the boot of the car, or on a dirty toilet floor – undignified and dangerous both for him and his caregivers.


The lack of suitable toilet facilities means many children, adults, and whole families can’t enjoy a

simple day out that others take for granted. Some folks actually limit their fluid intake when they do – potentially causing dehydration and permanent kidney damage; others wear pads when they don’t need to – and often end up sitting in their own waste – all because there are not suitable facilities.

There’s a simple solution to this – a Changing Places toilet. It’s a larger than average cubicle (at least 3m by 4m), with an adult-sized adjustable changing bench, a hoist, a peninsular toilet (i.e., one with space on each side), an adjustable basin, a privacy screen, and a safety alarm. Everything you could possibly want in a toilet!


Where can I find a Changing Places toilet?

There is one Changing Places toilet in Dunbar – in the Bleachingfield Centre, accessible with a RADAR key. There is also one at East Links Family Park, but it is only open to park users and is slightly smaller than the recommended size (if you need it, ask for the key in the shop). There is one in North Berwick (in the library), one in Haddington (at the John Gray Centre), and one at Gullane Bents.


There are none in West Barns or East Linton.


Further afield, you can find several Changing Places in Edinburgh – including Waverley Station (and another in the Wetherspoons Pub just outside), a new one at Edinburgh Zoo, Murrayfield, Edinburgh Airport. I also successfully campaigned for one to be installed at Fort Kinnaird (it’s in a cabin next to Curry’s), so at least we can now go shopping and to the cinema!

There’s even one on the MV Hebrides ferry, travelling between Uig on Skye, and Tarbert and Lochmaddy on the Western Isles. PAMIS also has a marvellous mobile Changing Place (basically a large, converted) – called a ‘Pamiloo’ which can often been seen at festivals and events (Wildhood Children’s Festival is a particular favourite of mine which always has a Pamiloo). To plan a route or a day out, there’s a really useful map of all registered Changing Places toilets at https://www.changing-places.org/find.

Just don’t spend too long in the highlands – there is nothing between Aberfoyle and Fort William, and very few beyond that!


Why aren’t there more Changing Places toilets?

Thanks to the tireless efforts of PAMIS and many others, in 2020 it was made law that all new public buildings over a certain size must include a Changing Places toilet, in addition to standard accessible loos – including schools, leisure centres, hospitals, shopping centres, museums, stadiums, restaurants, nightclubs, and many other places.




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