More Changing Places for Somerset

We are participating in a campaign for more fully accessible toilets or `Changing Places’ in the county so people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, autism and the elderly can lead a normal life.

Nationally, more than a quarter of a million people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well as a growing number of elderly people, require facilities which aren’t provided by standard disabled toilets, such as more space and equipment with a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist.

Changing Places is a national campaign to increase the number of these kind of toilet facilities so everyone can get out and about and enjoy the day to day activities many of us take for granted.

At the moment this is the situation we face:

  • People with profound and multiple disabilities and their families are often stressed because they are restricted in their activities, having to ‘run home’ rather than have meaningful community lives.
  • Stories of family members and carers trying to change disabled people on the floor of standard disabled toilets.
  • Many people with physical disabilities unable to be part of community life due to a shortage of Changing Places.
  • People unable to integrate into wider society and assume full citizenship.
  • Social care unable to fulfil its mission to enhance the level of independence, inclusion and integration across the community.

There are currently approximately 110 accessible toilets in Somerset but only five of these are registered Changing Places; some are run by local councils others by interested business partners like Asda, Tesco and Wetherspoons who recognise the value of serving the needs of all of their potential customers.

Wells Changing Places
Image courtesy of Wells City Council

Pete Ballam, general store manager at Asda Yeovil, said: “We’re proud that our store is offering a Changing Places room to our customers. These rooms are a fantastic facility for those with physical and hidden disabilities and the whole team here is glad that we’re able to provide this space, which will I’m sure, make a massive difference to customers and where applicable, their parents and carers.”

Discovery and Changing Places will form a working group to spread the message and to encourage other organisations to come on board. The goal of this Discovery initiative is to double the number of Changing Places in Somerset during the next three years.

Chris Haynes from Discovery says: “I’m keen to create a working group to see where these facilities could be hosted throughout Somerset. They’re essential to enable a large proportion of the population with additional needs, to live a full and active life.”

The cost of a Changing Places facility is between £12,000 and £15,000 for equipment but there are also building, maintenance and security costs to consider.

Changing Places will be able to apply for funding from the Discovery Community Fund which supports improvements to the health and independence of people with learning disabilities and autism right across Somerset. To date, the fund, which is managed by the Somerset Community Foundation, has awarded £200,000 to projects that support the health and independence of people with learning disabilities in Somerset.

If you would like to join the working party, or for more information about installing a Changing Places room, contact Chris Haynes: / 07702973052.

The new toilets will be added to a UK directory at:

The UK government wants to make these toilets mandatory in new large public buildings.

The Changing Places Consortium launched its campaign in 2006 on behalf of the over 250,000 people who cannot use standard accessible toilets, seeking to enable them to get out and about and enjoy the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted. This includes people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people.