Guest post from Darren Phelps, who has a 3-year-old son with Cerebral Palsy. Darren has been lobbying major supermarket chains about their disabled toilets only being set up for adults.
When out and about with my son, who cannot take himself to the toilet without help , we have always struggled. Disabled toilets are rarely equipped for children. We have to hover our son over the toilet as he is unable to sit on his own because of his disability. He goes very tense and struggles to go to the toilet and my partner is finding it harder to lift him as he grows.
I started my campaign by lobbying the “big four” supermarkets -asking why they ignore the needs of disabled children. I contacted all of them with simple suggestions on how to improve their toilets without costing a fortune. My suggestions were:
- A simple step that would make it easier so that a child could be high enough to be able to balance with help and a boy to go for a wee.
- A removable seat (most parents of a disabled child will have these at home) that would help most parents whose children have problems standing even with assistance.
Two out of the four supermarkets responded with the standard “we will raise this issue next time we look at our disabled toilet structure” – no timescale or agreement that it’s an issue. I’m still waiting for one to respond.
Tesco really surprised me, they took the time to ring me and listen to the problem. They agreed that this is a major issue and thanked me for bringing it to there attention. They also said they will implement my suggestions in my local store and they will also log it as a nationwide problem and roll out the changes nationwide! Let’s hope they stick to their word.
I now plan on taking my fight for disabled children further – lobbying government to force changes into how disabled toilets should be set up and that they actually cater for children as well!