Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Speaking Up stages Changing Places Demonstration!

Speaking Up's Cambridgeshire Parliament recently held a demonstration regarding the lack of Changing Places toilets in Cambridge.

Pictured: Volunteers from Speaking Up and Scope at the demonstration, with our High Support Needs Committee pictured on the right of the front row

Changing Places toilets are different from standard accessible toilets and include an adjustable changing bench and a hoist to allow people with high support needs to use the toilets with assistance, or to have their incontinence pads changed. Recent research by Mencap has found that nearly a quarter of a million disabled people in the UK are being denied access to these much needed facilities - forcing them to be changed on dirty toilet floors by their carers, or forcing them to stay at home. There are only 85 of these fully accessible toilets in the UK, and the nearest one to Cambridge is in Peterborough!

Simon, Christian and Susanna make up the Parliament's High Support Needs Committee. They identified the lack of Changing Places toilets as a massive issue for themselves and their peers, and so set about organising the demonstration.

Loads of volunteers came to help out at the demonstration outside the Guildhall in Cambridge, getting people to sign the petition and write to their MPs. We were really pleased with the response from the public - almost everybody we spoke to was really keen to get on board and get things changed!

After the demonstration, Susanna and Christian took the petitions down the the Houses of Parliament to raise the issue with MPs nationally. Ian Austin, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government addressed everyone about the importance of Changing Places, and we met many other supporters of the campaign. We also met Dame Tami Grey Thompson!

Pictured: High Support Needs Committee member Susanna with Dame Tami Grey Thompson

We also made it onto the local news, with Anglia News covering the campaign and visiting High Support Needs Committee member Simon in his home to show what a difference more of these facilities would make.

If you would like any more information on the campaign or our Parliament and High Support Needs Committee, please feel free to get in touch with Project Leader Kirsten on kirsten.green@speakingup.org

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