New £60,000 toilet facility for disabled people at Galleries shopping centre in Washington

from left, Rob Moses, operations manager at The Galleries, Sarah Mitchell , nurse and Changing Places volunteer and Lisa Stewart, health and safety co-ordinator at The Galleries.

from left, Rob Moses, operations manager at The Galleries, Sarah Mitchell , nurse and Changing Places volunteer and Lisa Stewart, health and safety co-ordinator at The Galleries.

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A new specialist toilet facility costing £60,000 which will serve the profoundly disabled community of Washington and the surrounding area has been unveiled at the Galleries.

The new Changing Places facility officially opened with a ribbon being cut by Sarah Mitchell, Changing Places campaigner, and the Galleries management team.

“As a business we take real care to ensure we respond to the needs of the communities we operate in.”

Chris Poole

M&G Real Estate, the company which owns the Galleries, has invested the cash to create the new feature.

The opening of this Changing Places facility comes in the same month that the Changing Places Consortium, a group that work together to campaign for improved toilet facilities for over ¼ million people, marks its tenth anniversary.

This new facility features an adult changing bench and ceiling track hoist installed by Changing Places sponsor and equipment manufacturer Aveso Ltd.

Rossanna Trudgian, co-chair of the Changing Places Consortium said: “There is growing momentum behind Changing Places and the importance of making public places accessible to the whole community.

“We now have more than 840 Changing Places toilets nationwide and the shopping centre industry, in particular, is leading the way with almost 50 UK shopping centres now providing these more advanced facilities within the heart of local communities.”

Over a quarter of a million people across the UK cannot use standard accessible toilets, including people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and some elderly people.

To use the toilet in safety and comfort, many people need to be able to access a Changing Places toilet, which has more space and equipment including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist.

The opening of the Changing Places toilet at the Galleries will allow more people to visit the centre in comfort, knowing that the facilities can cater suitably to their needs.

Chris Poole, asset manager at M&G Real Estate adds: “We believe in making The Galleries accessible to all customers and it is a pleasure to have this facility open this week to serve those that might need more specialist facilities than are available in a standard disabled toilet.

“As a business we take real care to ensure we respond to the needs of the communities we operate in and were pleased to invest in making the centre more accessible to those with profound disabilities and their families.”