My name is Jill Clark and I have cerebral palsy, which means that I have to use a wheelchair most of the time.
I am also known as “The Toilet Woman” as I campaign for Changing Places toilets. Frustratingly, each journey I make has to be carefully planned, as a standard accessible toilet isn’t suitable for me. Changing Places toilets accommodate my needs as they have extra room for up to two carers and a wheelchair, as well as equipment such as a tracking hoist and an adult changing bench.
In Scotland there are 193 Changing Places toilets and fewer than 20 of them are near where I live, which is quite poor. There is an organisation called the Changing Places Consortium, which campaigns on behalf of the thousands of disabled people who cannot use standard accessible toilets. The Changing Places campaign was started by the late Loretto Lambe, who founded the charity PAMIS, based in Dundee. In 2003, PAMIS produced a video showing parents having to change their children on dirty toilet floors or in the back of a mobility vehicle. This led to the Changing Places Consortium being set up in 2005, with a group of organisations working to support the rights of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities or other physical disabilities. For the past 13 years, the Consortium has been campaigning for more Changing Places toilets to be installed in all big public spaces, to allow people who need access to them, more opportunities to enjoy community life, socialise and travel with the same dignity as everyone else.
After launching petitions and making videos, I found a passion for campaigning. Last year, I set up a Facebook page, and I have been writing to businesses in Glasgow, to encourage them to install Changing Places toilets. Although there have been improvements, more could be done. Why shouldn’t disabled people like me be able to go out and get to the toilet safely? It is 2019 after all.
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