A Changing Places Toilet is so much more than just an accessible toilet

January 27, 2020 2:53 PM
By Angela Goodwin

Guildford's first Changing Place public toilet"I've felt like a little child again bursting at the seams trying to contain my excitement whilst the first-ever Changing Places Toilet was being built in The Friary Centre. And I can hear many of you reading this asking "So, what?' It's just another accessible toilet in our town centre."

Well, to many people who come to Guildford this new facility will be life-changing for the people they care for. Don't get me wrong, accessible toilets do help people with disabilities but they simply can't cater for anyone with complex needs. These may include spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, profound and multiple learning disabilities as well as many non-visible disabilities. We know from local organisations (such as Disability Challengers, Shooting Star Chase Children's Hospice, the Guildford Access Group and Surrey Disabled People's Partnership) and families that people want to spend more time in Guildford Town Centre but are unable to do so as they don't have the right toilet facilities available for the people they care for.

Why has it taken so long? The Friary Centre and Guildford Borough Council - who made a substantial financial contribution towards the cost - have been looking for over three years to find a suitable place. When Timpson (the shop that cuts keys, engraves and re-heels your shoes) moved out of their retail space (near Primark), the space was large enough for The Friary to build a new parent room, a family room, a quiet room and, of course, a 12-metre square space for its Changing Places Toilet. It's also easily accessible - using the ramp - to Bedford Road car park (accessible car park spaces) and Shopmobility.

The specialist equipment installed includes an adjustable adult-sized height bench, an adjustable height washbasin, an electric hoist with a ceiling loop, perninsular toilet, privacy screen, emergency alarm, colostomy shelf, non-slip floor and more...

You can find out more about its facilities by visiting the Changing Places website:

There was a real buzz at its official opening on 22 January 2020 and I've read some really positive comments from people on various social media sites. It was definitely the right thing to do for our town.

I'm really hopeful that we'll get one more Changing Places Toilet in Guildford town this year, and will definitely look for more opportunities to work with other partners across Guildford Borough to built more.

So, having come to the end of my blog, do you still think this is just another accessible toilet?

Cllr Angela Goodwin, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Stoughton ward and Guildford Borough Council's Lead Member for Access & Disability