Friday, 15 June 2018

Pants Down 4 Equality | The Changing Places Looathon

When it comes to disability rights my campaigning has been based largely online throughout the past few years: signing petitions, writing blog posts and articles, tweeting and generally using my voice online. That changed last month though as I was finally able to attend a disability rights campaign in person, which was largely down to the delivery of my new powerchair in February! As soon as I heard about Sarah Brisdion's latest idea for raising awareness of Changing Places I knew I had to attend. I had the pleasure of inteviewing her a couple of months ago after the success of Loo Advent, where she took photos of herself sitting on a toilet everyday throughout Decemeber, she even had a few famous faces get involved! All of it was to raise awareness of Changing Places, a type of accessible toilet with a hoist and height adjustable changing bench, that allow her son Hadley and thousands of other disabled people to live the life they want to. The problem is though, there's nowhere near enough of these facilities. So, we took to the streets to raise awareness in a way that was guaranteed to get heads turning.


I've talked about Changing Places on my blog ever since I came across the campaign about a year ago, which is mainly led by a group of parents who have disabled children. You see, without Changing Places parents are having to meet their children's toileting needs on the floors of dirty toilets, and some disabled adults are even having unnecessary surgery to have permanent catheters placed because the lack of Changing Places limits them so severely in day to day life. We live in a world that is getting better with pushing for equality but as I have said before, disabled people are being left behind and this is just one example of that.


A blog post I read recently on this topic really broke my heart, and I think everyone should read it to understand how important this issue is. Rachel, Mum to Adam who is a wheelchair user, has a blog called Ordinary Hopes and in February she wrote a post titled 'The worst loo...'  in which she talks about the worse experiences Adam and herself have experienced when it comes to toilets, with the worse experience being a heartbreaking one. I think it really sums up why this fight is so important and why Sarah chose a form of campaigning that put herself and others in an uncomfortable position, because if people think sitting on a toilet in public is undignified then they should listen to the children, adults and parents who have to go through far worse every time they need the toilet.

Thanks to Dominic from Review My Wheelchair for taking the 4 photos above

We managed to make quite a bit of noise and it made on to the news on the day itself, as well as being covered online. It's difficult sometimes to know whether these campaigns make a difference but I think it's clear to see that since I first covered this issue a year ago progress has sped up a lot and new Changing Places are being installed all the time now. The fight is far from over but I think we're finally starting to see the results of a lot of passionate campaigning.


You can learn more about getting involved on the Changing Places website, you can do everything from signing petitions to contacting businesses and MPs to help get more Changing Places installed!
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