Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium has launched a £30,000 public appeal to fund the installation of a registered Changing Places toilet, an essential facility for many people with disabilities.
This new fundraising campaign was launched by Finn from Bishops Waltham, who has cerebral palsy, his family, and Steve Brine MP – Minister for Public Health and Primary Care.
There are over a quarter of a million people in the UK who cannot use standard accessible toilets due to conditions including profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. A Changing Places toilet is larger than a standard accessible one, with extra equipment such as a height adjustable changing bench and hoist as well as enough space for a disabled person and up to two carers.
“The availability of Changing Places toilets gives families like ours the opportunity to experience the days out that many people take for granted. It shouldn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing – a person with a disability, whether that be a child or an adult, should have access to adequate toilet facilities. No parent should have the additional worry of potentially having to change their child on the toilet floor,” said Jenny, Finn’s mother.
There are increasing calls for more Changing Places toilets to be made available in the UK, and the Changing Places Toilet Bill is due to get its second reading in the House of Commons later this month.
Steve Brine MP said: “This may seem like a small problem but it’s certainly not and it has a huge impact on children like Finn. Families with a disabled child should have exactly the same choices when it comes to a day out, or just a routine stop on a journey, as anyone else. I am enthusiastically backing the Changing Places campaign and the Winchester Science Centre fundraising effort in particular.”
Registered Changing Places facilities have to meet certain standards before being listed on the national Changing Places website, which is used by families and carers to locate the nearest approved facility.
Currently, there are only two registered Changing Places toilets in the Winchester District and Winchester Science Centre is bidding to be one of the first science centres in the UK to install one.
“Winchester Science Centre is passionate about making science accessible to all,” said Ben Ward, CEO of Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium. “Earlier this year, we invited families living with a disability to come to the Science Centre and advise us how our visitor attraction could be improved, and all agreed that installing a Changing Places toilet should be our highest priority. Based on their feedback, we’ve also made sensory backpacks available and added autism-friendly planetarium shows, so that children like Finn and his family can enjoy a memorable science experience too.”
Schools, businesses and members of the public can support Winchester Science Centre’s campaign through sponsored events, raffles and other fundraisers. The public can also support the text to donate campaign by texting WSCA18 and the amount to 70070. For example, if you wanted to donate £10, you would text ‘WSCA18 £10’ to 70070. Any funds raised in excess of the £30,000 target will be used to further Winchester Science Centre’s general charitable purposes.
Pictured; Steve with Finn, Mum Jenny and Sister Olivia at the event.
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