St John’s Farsley is officially the first Anglican church to open a 24/7 Changing Places Toilet . These are state-of-the-art accessible toilets, with a hoist, adult size changing table and shower especially designed for people with disabilities to use, and Rosie Tudge and her husband – Canon Paul Tudge – are hoping theirs will be the first of many.
In 2012 the Tudge family went with their two disabled boys to the Paralympics. It wasn’t just the sitting volleyball, weightlifting and wheelchair tennis which caught their imagination, but also the facilities which enabled their trips to the loo to be managed with ease and dignity – something most of us take for granted when out and about.
As Farsley Church was undertaking work to make the church more welcoming and accessible they decided to include a Changing Places Toilet. It's an area in which Britain is apparently leading the world, with over 1000 across the country.
Changing Places Toilets offer more than standard accessible toilets. Included at St John’s are a hoist, adult size changing table and shower. It is available 24/7 to anyone with a RADAR key. These toilets make all the difference – making it possible for a disabled person to leave home and do normal things like shopping, meeting with others or visiting the theatre. Current places in Leeds with Changing Places Toilets include the Trinity Shopping Centre, the First Direct Arena and West Yorkshire Playhouse.
The Changing Places Toilet at St John’s has an external door allowing it to be used at all times, by the whole community. The church has put 40 signs in prominent locations around Farsley so that people become aware of the facility.
Toilet humour was the order of the day at Farsley’s Official Toilet Opening when Architect Mike Overton ripped the toilet paper sash across the door; the impressive four toilet roll cake was cut and Rosie tweeted: “This is not just your bog standard toilet!”.
Rosie is hoping that many other churches will consider installing a Changing Places Toilet. She says, “It helps if you have an external door. Once we started the project, we discovered people in our own congregation who had struggled to come to church without good toilet facilities.
“Changing Places Toilets are going to become more and more prevalent as the disabled population increases. And there are lots of charities that will help with funding where it is seen as a community project".
Find out more about Changing Places Toilets here and in the files below.
Find your nearest Changing Places Toilet here.