Leeds City Council has taken delivery of its first mobile ‘Changing Places’ toilet catering for disabled people.

Bought by the council’s Learning Disability Community Support Service, the toilet has been specifically designed to meet the needs of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities who cannot use regular accessible toilets, and the carers who support them. This is the 19th Changing Places toilet to be made available in Leeds, all of which has sufficient space for up to two carers to support a disabled person to use the facility, and are fitted with specialist equipment including a hoist and adult-sized height adjustable changing bench.

Changing Places toilets have been installed in a variety of buildings across the city including leisure, community and shopping centres, but the mobile unit will give people with the most complex needs the opportunity to participate in a wide range of outdoor events too. The mobile facility will be managed by the Leeds Lights events team who will set the unit up on site at events organised by the council such as Classical Fantasia, the German Christmas Market and Learning Disability Week.

Councillor Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care said:

“We have a fantastic programme of arts and cultural events in Leeds and it’s always our aim to give as many people as possible the chance to attend and enjoy them and this Changing Places equipment is another huge step towards that.

“This new facility will give people with disabilities and their carers the added peace of mind of knowing there will be facilities on site tailored to their needs so that when they arrive they can relax and enjoy the show.”

This work forms part of the council’s continuing work and ambitions, to make its activities and events programme more inclusive for the vulnerable and disabled. Earlier in the year, Leeds City Council was recognised as the first local authority in the UK to be recognised by a deaf and disabled people’s organisation for their on-going commitment to improving access at outdoor live music and arts events.

In receiving a Silver Level Charter of Best Practice award, the council has been praised by charity ‘Attitude is Everything’ for their work in making sure that their outside venues, festivals, and community spaces are inclusive to the needs of deaf and disabled people. As part of its Charter of Best Practice, the charity works with audiences, artists, the music industry and from this year local authorities, to identify and find new ways in which to drive up standards in accessibility across the UK.

Those groups and organisations such as Leeds City Council which have been deemed to meet the criteria required are then welcomed on to the charter through a Bronze, Silver or Gold level award. The council earlier in the year, also put its self forward for a Gold Level Best Practice award at one of its premier cultural events Classical Fantasia, and is currently awaiting a decision by Attitude is Everything.

For more information regarding the charter, and Attitude is Everything, please see: http://www.attitudeiseverything.org.uk/

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:

“We are working extremely hard to improve facilities for the disabled, and I am delighted that the council has now purchased its first very own mobile Changing Places toilet which will be made available at our future outdoor events.

“This follows on from the council being recognised by a Silver Level Charter of Best Practice Award by the charity ‘Attitude is Everything’, for our continuing efforts to improve access at our live music and arts events for both the disabled and blind.

“There is still though a lot to do, and we certainly will not be resting on our laurels in our attempts to make sure that every council leisure event held outside if possible, is made more inclusive and accessible for everyone.”

Suzanne Bull MBE, Attitude is Everything’s Chief Executive Officer said:

“Attitude is Everything is really excited to welcome the first Local Authority onto our charter. By signing up, Leeds City Council has shown that it is truly committed to making sure that their venues, festivals and community spaces can be accessed and enjoyed by everyone.

“Leeds City Council will be implementing new policies and procedures for events organised by the Council as well as setting a baseline level of requirements for promoters and producers wishing to hold events in Council locations. Deaf and disabled people make up 20% of the communities we live in and now Leeds City Council has a fantastic way of publicly demonstrating that everyone is welcome and that they are actively meeting people’s access requirements.

“We look forward to working with Leeds City Council in the coming years.”

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