Motorway service stations are invited to apply for funding to improve facilities for travellers with disabilities, under a new £2 million government-backed scheme.
The Department for Transport (TfL) has teamed up with Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) to award money for Changing Places toilets, which are expected to be ready by the early 2020s. Motorway service station operators have until 12 July 2019 to submit their application.
The Changing Places Consortium is a group of organisations working to support the rights of people with learning difficulties or physical disabilities by campaigning for accessible toilets to be installed in big public places.
More than a quarter of a million people across the UK cannot use standard toilets, meaning they have to travel without a bathroom break, be changed by their carers on toilet floors, or forced to stay at home.
Changing Places facilities allow people with conditions like muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy to use toilets safely and comfortably. It’s important to note that these toilets are different to standard disabled toilets and need to be provided in addition to accessible facilities.
To support travellers, Changing Places has created a toilet map of the UK.
‘Determined to do more’
Transport accessibility minister Nusrat Ghani said: “Today marks the next step towards our ambition of delivering a fully inclusive transport network. It is unacceptable that, despite welcome investment in some areas, our roadside services are not more accessible for over a quarter of a million people, and I am determined to do more.
“Our partnership with MDUK will help ensure that everyone, disabled or not, can use our roads and I encourage as many operators as possible to apply for funding.”
Catherine Woodhead, chief executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, added: “Individuals and families living with a disability often tell us that travelling by car is the easiest way for them to get from A to B.
“Building Changing Places toilets at motorway service stations will make it easier for more than a quarter of a million people and their families to visit friends, go on holiday, or simply enjoy a day out somewhere – activities the rest of us take for granted.
“We’re delighted the Department for Transport has recognised this need, and look forward to working together on delivering this transformational project.”
The Changing Places application portal will remain open for three months with successful applicants announced in September.