Changing Places: Changing Lives – Best signposted 2017/8 in Crawley

Ryan Box Changing Places in Crawley County Mall has been voted to have the Best Sign-Posted Changing Places.

Changing Places Toilets have been Changing Lives since 2006 and 12 years on, it’s great to see that there are more than 1,100 facilities in the UK. However, with over 1/4 million people in the UK that are not able to use standard toilets, is this enough? Standard accessible toilets don’t provide changing benches or hoists and are often too small to accommodate more than one person. This means that people with serious disabilities and their families are often forced to change their loved one on a toilet floor. Should it not be the right of everyone to be able to use a toilet whatever their situation or location in the UK?

Ryan Box Changing Places in Crawley County Mall has exemplary signage to promote their Changing Places facility. It is fantastic to offer these life-changing facilities, but with great signage and an access to all ethos, the impact can be far greater. Care was really taken to ensure signage was placed at optimal locations form the facility door, around County Mall to locations around Crawley Town Centre. Councillor Peter Smith of Crawley Borough Council said, “As part of our overall town centre regeneration program, we sat back and looked at the wayfinding and branding for the whole of the town.. to make sure that the people that know what Changing Places are, are able to find them. Otherwise there is no point having them.” If users do not know it is there, no matter how great the facility, the usage will be limited.

Maria Cook and her son Ryan Box (who the Changing Places is named for) were delighted to present the award to County Mall and Crawley Borough Council. When asked, Maria describes “These facilities are so important; it protects their dignity, it’s safer, it’s hygienic. Having a facility like this was a dream come true and I thought, I just have to make this happen. It’s been life-changing not just for us but for so many people. I was overjoyed when I found out about the award, it solidifies why it had to happen and I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved as a team.”

Mark Haynes, Centre Manager for County Mall said ” I have been aware of Changing Places for some time, through our industry trying to provide better services for all our customers. It means a lot to win this award – it always means a lot to win an award but particularly one that makes the town centre and shopping centre more accessible for everyone.“

To celebrate Changing Places Awareness Day, OpeMed through their partnership Aveso, sponsors of the Changing Places Campaign, launched a public vote for “The People’s” Favorite, Best Sign-Posted and Most Individual Changing Places toilets. It is hoped that a celebration of the fantastic facilities that have been opened will help to raise more vital awareness of the life-changing difference Changing Places toilets make to people’s lives.

In the other categories, the Overall People’s Choice for the Best Changing Places Toilet was awarded to Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool, fitting perfectly with their vision of “Inclusion for All”, and the Most Individual Changing Room is voted to be Inverness Airport. Inverness Airport has recently been rated as Very Good in terms of their disability access – one of only 6 UK airports to achieve this rating.

Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information at Muscular Dystrophy UK, which co-chairs the Changing Places Consortium, said: “Having access to a registered Changing Places toilet can make the world of difference to disabled people, giving them greater independence. But without enough of these facilities, more than a quarter of a million people with a disability are faced with the choice of not going out, or being changed on a toilet floor. The People’s Choice Awards recognise the venues and businesses that are making a difference, and we would like to thank them for their support. We hope others will follow their lead so we can tackle the discrimination that many severely disabled people routinely experience.”

Watch the video here: