The funding of £319,000 from The Department for Transport, in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK, means 10 service stations in the north west, including Lancaster, will provide well-equipped “Changing Places” toilet facilities for travellers with complex accessibility needs.
More than 250,000 severely disabled people and their carers across England will soon benefit from the upgraded facilities at service stations across the country, as well as the north west.
Transport Accessibility Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:“It is hard to overstate the importance of something as simple as an accessible area for the over 250,000 people nationwide who have a severe disability.
“I want everyone to have the confidence to travel by any means so it is incredibly important to work with Muscular Dystrophy UK to provide Changing Places facilities at the majority of service stations in England, including ten in the North West.”
This funding for the North West is just one part of a £1.27m funding package to boost the installation of 37 more changing places at service stations across England, giving more and more people with complex needs the confidence to travel by road as restrictions ease.
This latest round will ensure that 87 of England’s 118 service stations will be set to have a fully accessible Changing Places toilet by the early 2020s.
Rob Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “We’re delighted that these 10 service stations across the North West have been successful in applying for funding for a Changing Places toilet. Many disabled people travel by car to get from A to B, and knowing a Changing Places toilet is available en route will be invaluable.
“None of this would have been possible without the hard work of our wonderful campaigners like Zack. Thanks to everyone working together, we have taken a big step towards ensuring Changing Places toilets will be more widely available to everyone who needs them and tackling the exclusion people face.”
Zack Kerr, Changing Places campaigner, said: “This is nothing short of life changing for a quarter of a million people like me in the UK.
“With these new Changing Places facilities on our motorway network, we will have far more choice of places we can travel to without having to worry about needing the toilet and having to go back home.
Ceri Davies, Zack Kerr’s stepdad, said: “The provision of Changing Places enables and encourages families, friends and carers to go out and about on day trips and holidays without the uncertainty and worry of discovering there are no accessible toilet facilities available.
“Everyone, regardless of age or ability, should be confident of the provision of appropriate, hygienic and accessible toilet facilities which they can use safely and with dignity."
Changing Places toilets are larger than standard disabled toilets, and have equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches and space for carers.
There are more than 1,400 Changing Places toilets in the UK, up from just 140 in 2007, but the government is investing more in these facilities to support the more than quarter of a million people who need them across the UK.