BT Murrayfield welcomed the official opening of Scotland’s 100th Changing Places toilet, a facility which will improve the provision for disabled fans at the stadium. The newly-installed toilet, launched in conjunction with charity Profound and Multiple Impairment Service (PAMIS) and their Changing Places campaign, is larger than a standard disabled toilet and includes a height-adjustable changing bench, a hoist, and enough room for a wheelchair, its user and two carers. Lois Speed who lives in Arbroath, Angus, explains the importance of the Changing Places Campaign.
I am Lois, mum to Kelsey and Kein – 15 year old twins with muscular dystrophy. Firstly I would like to say this is a fantastic opportunity to share with so many people the difficulties that we usually experience alone on a daily basis.
Kesley and Kein lost their ability to walk during their primary school years until then I didn’t fully appreciate how difficult everyday life was going to be especially meeting basic needs such as going to the toilet. Kelsey in particular needs the use of a hoist and height adjustable changing bench everytime she needs the toilet. So like you and I there is no predicting the frequency or timing of when this will be. An average trip to the toilet takes 30 mins, so we can spend at least 3-4 hours in a toilet a day. The easiest thing is to stay at home where we have the right equipment, but this doesn’t give Kelsey and Kein the same opportunities, choices, hopes and dreams as you and I.
Dignity, fairness, equality, respect and autonomy are basic human rights. Going to the toilet is a basic human right. I ask you would you be able to conduct your life around one toilet?
Each and every trip away from the house takes considerable planning and we are often limited to the radius of a Changing Places toilet. For example in our home county of Angus which covers an area of 842 square miles there are 6 CP toilets with various opening hours. This is especially restrictive at evenings and weekends. So shopping, visiting friends and family, eating out, GP and hospital visits all require forward planning. School outings and trips, cinema, theatre, retail and leisure parks and holidays at times are almost impossible and not to mention public transport.
However, this said even after forward planning including mapping our journey and numerous phone calls some of Kelsey’s most distressing experiences have been when she has attended hospital appointments in 3 of Scotland’s major cities and likewise Sports centres across Scotland. We are still faced with nightmare situations where equipment is not working or available. We have at times spent up to 2- 3 hours, travelling many miles trying to locate a suitable toilet on several occasions. All the while Kelsey and Kein wait desperately! Even when we locate suitable equipment there are often barriers, for example, lack of understanding, poor attitudes, infection control and health and safety issues.
Today for us is a very special occasion as our journey with Murrayfield has come full circle. Earlier this year we set out to fulfil one of Kelsey’s dreams to attend her first concert and see One Direction like many teenagers Kelsey is a huge fan! However, despite very careful planning and Murrayfields best efforts to accommodate and install a portable CP toilet we yet again experienced equipment failure on arrival. Despite arriving hours before Kelsey experienced another nightmare situation and missed the majority of the concert.
So I am absolutely delighted to stand here today with Kesley and Kein and the many others , who wouldn’t have been able to come today without the CP toilet, and fully applaud Murrayfields’ commitment to ensure that the stadium is fully accessible to all. I would hope today that I have helped raise awareness and inspired others to join the Changing Places campaign.
For further information about Changing Places please visit: www.changing-places.org