Falkirk district’s constituency MSPs and MPs are teaming up in a bid to address the lack of suitable toilets in the local area for disabled children and adults with complex needs.
Michael Matheson MSP, Angus MacDonald MSP, John McNally MP and Martyn Day MP have written joint letters to a host of organisations that run popular venues and attractions across the Falkirk area to encourage them to consider installing a Changing Places toilet – and to offer to work with them to take forward any such plans.
Potential sites that they have identified for Changing Places toilets include Falkirk Stadium, the Falkirk Wheel, the Kelpies and the Helix, Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, Callander Park, Dollar Park and Cineworld Falkirk.
They have also written to NHS Forth Valley about potential facilities at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert and Falkirk Community Hospital, which could offer out-of-hours availability and assist people attending outpatient appointments. And they have been in contact with Callendar Square shopping centre, which is already looking into installing a Changing Places toilet, to offer support.
All four of the SNP politicians have been working with affected constituents and representatives from Scottish charity PAMIS (Promoting A More Inclusive Society) but they are now joining forces to raise awareness of the issue among local businesses.
In their letter, they highlight how a lack of suitable facilities is preventing many people from attending events and visiting towns.
They write: “Although there are suitable facilities provided throughout Scotland for young children to be ‘changed’, once a disabled child reaches a certain age, height and weight, these facilities are no longer suitable.
“Parents find that they require to change their child on unhygienic toilet floors, on the ground outside in full view of passers-by, to return home without finishing their day’s outing, or, as many families do, not actually attend an event or shopping trip as a complete family.
“However, this issue does not only affect families with growing children, it also affects adults with complex needs.”
Unlike ordinary disabled toilets, a Changing Places toilet has extra room for up to two carers and a wheelchair, a hoist and tracking system and an adult changing bench.
The MSPs and MPs conclude that providing “a respectful and welcoming facility” to visitors from within the local area and from further afield can also benefit venues, by encouraging attendance from individuals and their families who would otherwise opt to remain at home.
In recent weeks, Scottish Government minister Kevin Stewart announced plans to introduce Changing Places toilets in certain new buildings, such as large shopping centres, hospitals, schools, leisure centres and large stadia and arenas, through building regulations.