A campaign to improve disability access in Peterborough city centre is taking a leap forward with a large fundraising push for new fully accessible toilet facilities.
The Peterborough Unlimited campaign is raising money for a block of Changing Places toilets which would benefit everyone visiting the city centre, but in particular those with disabilities and parents with young children.
Changing Places toilets are larger than standard toilets, and have other facilities to help disabled visitors.
Campaigners will be outside the Town Hall on Saturday, June 25 to highlight the lack of adequate toilets in the city centre and raise money for the new facilities which could cost up to £60,000.
Funding secured for some toilets – but more help is needed
Currently, the only Changing Places toilets are at Car Haven. Peterborough City Council recently secured funding to upgrade the disabled toilets at St Peter's Arcade, but this would still be a long distance for people with limited mobility or additional needs, or parents with young children, to get to if they are visiting Queensgate or other places nearby.
Joel Lamy, who helped launch Peterborough Unlimited, said: "There are thousands of people in Peterborough with disabilities, but many feel unable to visit their own city centre as there are a number of issues, the main one being a lack of suitable toilet facilities which is a huge barrier to going out.
"People with disabilities often don't drive, so getting a bus into the city centre is one of their few options for getting out. So if we don't make them feel welcome then all we are doing is condemning them to isolation and increasing feelings of loneliness.
"It can't be right that families would rather travel to Milton Keynes than Peterborough for a day out.”
Changing Places toilets would allow more people to spend money in city
Louise Ravenscroft, chief operating officer at Family Voice Peterborough, a charity which helps improve the lives of children and young people with disabilities or additional needs, said: "It is unfair when you care for a child/young person/adult who has to use continence aids and there is nowhere available to cater for their personal care needs.
"Changing someone if you can get them safely out of their wheelchair onto the floor in a standard accessible toilet or in the back of a car if the car is big enough is inhumane, undignified and unhygienic, but this is what some people are having to do.”
Actress and disability rights campaigner Julie Fernandez, who helped set up Peterborough Unlimited, said: ‘Disabled people and their families have a right to access and enjoy all that Peterborough has to offer in the same way as their non-disabled counterparts do.
“The law states that businesses should be accessible, but sadly many have not seen this investment as worthwhile! Having a Changing Places toilet available in the centre of town would allow more disabled people and their friends and family to spend their money in their own town rather than having to travel elsewhere.”
Donations can be made at: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=SJSDHPJU72CJ4.