You’re an idiot – urine idiot – get it?

Not you, I doubt you are an idiot, in fact, most people are sensible and understand the need for everyone to be able to use a toilet. How can it possibly be acceptable to have to lay on a cold, dirty toilet floor to get changed?

The Changing Places campaign has jumped on the John Lewis Christmas advert and is using the ridiculous amount of money JL proudly proclaimed they had spent as a stick to beat them with, over their disinterest in installing suitable changing facilities in their stores.  As so often happens, it started with a tweet that went viral – we know how that works!

Fortunately, most of us will never have to personally experience the lack of dignity from being changed on a cramped, cold and dirty toilet floor, as we can use the standard facilities. But what if you couldn’t manage the toilet? What if you had a terrible accident or fell ill and that meant from now on you will have to be physically undressed and changed whenever you wet or soil yourself?

Sure it’s unlikely, but it happens, you know it does. Many people are born with physical disabilities that mean they need to be changed in this way, other children and adults may have severe learning disabilities and be unable to use a toilet, so they need to be changed too.

Over a quarter of a million people in the UK need to be changed in this way and need fully accessible facilities. They could have profound, and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, or they could be older people who need more support than others.

When children are tiny, they can go on the changing tables in the parent and child changing facilities that everyone accepts we need. Years ago we didn’t have such services, campaigners fought hard and now they appear in most stores and decent sized venues, they are not a luxury.

People seem to think all you need to provide for disabled people is enough room to turn your chair around and a few grab rails. Oh, and that red emergency pull cord thingy that nobody is quite sure what will happen if you pull it…

Why, when campaigners ask for suitable facilities to be standard in stores and venues is there such a negative backlash against the campaign and for the venues? These campaigners are explaining that disabled toilets are not fully accessible, and the Changing Places campaign is working hard to help companies understand what is needed from a Changing Places Toilet.

Its enough space, a screen or curtain for privacy and dignity, height adjustable adult-sized changing bench, a hoist, and a safe, clean and hygienic environment. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem to be too much to ask for.

There is currently some backlash against John Lewis who proudly spent £7 million on their Christmas advert – more than any other retailer this year -, yet they have been defending their position of ‘not having enough space for a changing places toilet in their stores’ for three years now. It isn’t acceptable; they don’t have an argument when their stores are mostly colossal flagship anchor stores in giant shopping centres or the most prominent shop on the high street by a country mile.

For the record, a changing places toilet fits in a space only a teeny bit bigger than a standard car parking bay.

John Lewis has been singled out in this case, but other stores are as guilty. Some are trying hard to get it right, Ikea has plans for one in every store in the UK, Asda is putting them into some newer stores, but Tesco and Sainsbury’s both say they don’t have space. You know, the same Sainsbury’s who recently bought Argos and are now building Argos stores inside every large Sainsbury’s in the country…

The people defending the stores are wrong, their arguments are terrible, they don’t see why anyone should cater for the needs of a quarter of a million people, they don’t see this as an issue at all. They feel its okay to have to lay down on a cold, dirty floor and forget all about your dignity. I wonder what they would say if there were no toilets for ‘everyone else’ to use because the store didn’t have enough space. Or if all baby changing facilities were removed to save space.

So yes, if you actually think its okay to lay down on the floor where people have splashed when they’ve pee’d, and walked all over with dirty shoes, amongst the millions of germs, and totally forget about dignity, YOU’RE AN IDIOT.




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