While disabled toilets have become more common than they once were, a sizeable minority of disabled people still can’t use them.
That’s because they require specialist equipment, including a hoist, and, ideally, a changing table suitable for adults so their carers and assistants don’t have to use the floor.
When a consortium of charities started a campaign to increase the number of these – it’s called Changing Places – there were just 10 facilities boasting that equipment in the whole of the UK.
Changing Places now registers 902 such conveniences, a vast improvement. But that number is still far too low, particularly given the campaign’s estimate that in excess of 250,000 people need them.
Well, you can’t do it overnight, can you?
That ought to serve as a stain on our collective consciousness, which brings us to Laura Moore. Her seven-year-old son has quadriplegic cerebral palsy. At the moment, she can just about lift him on to the toilet, but he’s growing and she’ll soon be putting herself at risk of disability if she keeps it up.
She believes, not unreasonably, that her family should be able to take him out to places like M&S or Cineworld. Places that the rest of us regularly visit without having to engage in a logistical nightmare of pre-planning.
So she asked the two companies whether they would be willing to help her son, not to mention lots of other potential customers where they live. By, you know, doing the decent thing.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that both of them said no.
If she used that hectoring tone you’ve used in this article, I’m not surprised, no…
It shouldn’t be a question of cost when it comes to common decency and providing facilities for all your customers to be able to shop or view in comfort. But it is.
Well, yes. Because these are businesses. They exist to make a profit. It’s not hard to understand, really.
Changing Places reckons the cost of kitting out a new development – recommended by British Standards but not compulsory – amounts to between £12,000 and £15,000.
Not cheap. But see my point above about decency and then consider that both make millions of pounds in profit. It has also recently emerged that M&S, is prepared to spend £4.2m on its chief executive for just a single year’s work. A bunch of other highly paid managers have been offered seven figure bonuses alongside him if they hit targets of one kind or another.
What on earth that has to do with anything is beyond me…
Both M&S and Cineworld say they listen to their customers. The busy festive shopping season wouldn’t be a bad time for those customers to make their feelings known.
Go ahead. The numbers aren’t on your side, as you’ve just admitted.