Specialised disabled toilet and changing facilities will be available in Leamington town centre for the first time thanks to the efforts of two mums.
The Changing Places facilities, located next to Natwest Bank on the Upper Mall of the Royal Priors shopping centre, are designed so that those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well as those with physical disabilities such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and spinal injuries have extra equipment and space to use the toilet comfortably.
Emily Naismith of Warwick Gates and Francesca Anker of Kenilworth both have children with disabilities and had been campaigning for 18 months to raise £40,000 and to have the toilet installed before it was opened by them and Warwick and Leamington’s former MP Chris White on Monday morning.
Emily said: “This is a great step for everyone involved and I’m delighted that the new toilets are ready.
“Before being a mum it’s not something you think about but the more research I did, the more it became apparent that the options just weren’t there.
“I started raising funds so that a Changing Place facility could be built in Leamington and the support from the community has been fantastic.
“From Chris White being a driving force, helping me raise awareness and so many people getting involved, to Royal Priors making a substantial donation and agreeing to have the facilities in the centre, it’s been overwhelming.
“I’m thrilled that those with disabilities that mean they can’t use ‘regular’ toilets will now be able to use these at the Royal Priors.”
The toilet includes a height adjustable adult-sized changing bench, a hoist system, a height-adjustable sink and privacy screen with the moving and handling equipment supplied by specialists Opemed.
It also features a beautiful hot air balloon mural by Warwick-based artist Jemma Taylor.
The building work was carried out by MJC Construction which has recorded a time-laps video of the project.
Francesca said that facilities like the toilet would be life changing for herself and others who would have had no choice but to lie their children on toilet floors or on the back seats of cars when changing them in the past.
She said: “I raised the issue about the lack of a facility in Leamington three years ago and thought I had hit a brick wall but then Emily and I met on Facebook and it has just gone on from there.
“It feels amazing that it’s here for people now.”