New changing and toilet facilities to help people with disabilities have been unveiled at County Hall in Maidstone.
More than 250,000 people in Kent have a disability which limits their day-to-day activities.
Graham Gibbens, KCC’s cabinet member for adult social care and public health said: “I am really delighted a changing places facility is now available to the public in County Hall.
“Everybody should be able to enjoy day-to-day activities and travel independently throughout Kent. Therefore, it is extremely important to ensure all people have access to safe, comfortable changing places in public buildings across the county.”
The changing place features a plaque honouring Steven Kissock, a member of the Dover District Partnership Group. Up until his death in 2016, he campaigned tirelessly for better facilities for people living with disabilities in the county.
The facility was unveiled on Friday, July 20 by Mr Gibbens, Mick Cronin, chairman of the Keeping Safe Delivery Group, and Sue Bartley, Mr Kissock’s sister.
People with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well as people with other physical disabilities often need extra equipment and space to allow them to use the toilets safely and comfortably. These needs are met by changing place toilets.
It is hoped the addition will encourage people with disabilities and their carers to visit Maidstone in confidence, knowing adequate facilities are available.
The changing place was funded through KCC’s Good Day Programme. This initiative aims to empower people with learning disabilities to choose what they want to do, access support and feel equal as citizens in their local community.
The facility is located behind reception on the ground floor of Sessions House at County Hall in Maidstone, ME14 1XQ. It is wheelchair accessible and includes a height-adjustable adult-sized changing bench, hoist and a non-slip floor. It is available to the public from 8am to 5pm, Mondays to Fridays.
For further information about the Kent County Council Communications Office contact David Gazet on 03000 422589 or email email@example.com.
Notes for journalists
- People can need changing places because of a variety of factors including those with severe learning disabilities, muscular dystrophy and muscle wasting conditions, stroke, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease.
- The first changing places in Kent are believed to have been opened in 2007 at Bluewater after a campaign by the North Kent Independent Advocacy Scheme.
- Across the UK, there are more than 1,100 changing places. There are currently more than 30 registered throughout Kent. A comprehensive map is available at www.changing-places.org. For advice and information about the Good Day Programme, email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- There is currently no legal duty for the owners of publicly accessible buildings to provide a changing places toilet. Building regulations require only standard accessible toilets. Therefore, they are not always provided as a matter of course.
- Guidance called the British Standard 8300 recommends they be included in larger buildings and complexes such as town halls, motorway services, sports stadiums, shopping centres, airports, hospitals and schools.