I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Changing places, change lives. But how many complaints will it take to force change and have these toileting facilities readily available for people who need them?
What if I told you that one complaint could change everything?
Yes that’s right, ONE!
One person complained to Cornwall Services and that one person was listened to. Cornwall Services realised their facilities didn’t meet everyone’s needs when Rachel George told them that her son, Adam, couldn’t use their disabled toilet. Immediately they set out to change things and within 3 month they had provided a fully functioning changing places toilet.
One person asked Longdown Farm to add a changing places toilet so that they could visit with their family. Sarah Brisdion needed this facility for her son Hadley and Longdown Farm, a very small business couldn’t say no. They didn’t have a space to convert… so they converted a container!
One person complained to IKEA and opened their eyes to their stores being unsuitable for anyone who needed a changing bed or a hoist. And that ONE complaint meant that IKEA have recently told the BBC that within 18 months ALL their existing stores will have a changing places toilet retro-fitted and all future stores will have them included in their plans.
Neither of these businesses had a legal obligation to make changes but they knew how much difference this would make to their customers and their morals meant they couldn’t ignore the problem.
When you hear about these businesses putting customers first, without first having bad press, petitions or legal action it makes you wonder why others aren’t following suit.
While everyone is swooning over how wonderful the new @johnlewisretail advert is… just take a moment to look at this photo which was taken in one of their stores because they don’t provide #changingplaces for severely disabled people & refuse to do so. Priorities. pic.twitter.com/rekU1zKpK9
— Mum On A Mission (@MumsMissions) November 10, 2017
But it isn't just John Lewis who won't take the word of one customer.
Tesco's are just as bad, possibly worse to be honest. They have shown they understand the need and how important changing places stores are to their customers because they have 2 stores with them in. But despite that they have stated they will not be rolling these facilities out to all their stores.
This summer I had a terrible experience in my local Tesco. My son needed the toilet and was crying because he was so desperate. I resigned myself to the fact I would have to put him on the toilet floor but when I got into the disabled toilet the floor was wet, might have been water but probably wasn't, so I couldn't put him down there. I went to customer services, by this time William was screaming hysterically and couldn't be calmed. I tried to explain the issue to the manager but instead I also burst into tears.
Imagine seeing a parent and a child crying because they physically cannot use a toilet in your store and still refusing to do anything about it.
Marks & Spencers is usually regarded as one of the luxury brands on our high streets but that luxury doesn't stretch to their toilets as they still think it's acceptable to sit in your own mess or lie in someone else's in their stores.
They website says:
“At M&S we put the customer at the heart of everything we do. As part of this we work hard to make our stores accessible. We’re proud of how our stores are designed to be inclusive for everyone"
But despite providing toilets for their customers they refuse to adapt them so they are usable by everyone. In fact when I put in a formal complaint of discrimination when they refused to make changes for my son, they sent a legal letter back which was full of excuses as to why they don't have to make sure their store was inclusive for everyone! Read more here
It isn't just me that has asked, complained and ultimately named and shamed these businesses. People have been asking these big retailers to adapt their toilets for years and they still refuse and make unrealistic excuses as to why they shouldn't (we've all seen wasted space in their stores haven't we).
The Equality Act 2010 requires them to not only make reasonable adjustments but also to ensure they do so before they are asked. These businesses appear to be in breech of their obligations under that legislation but until someone takes them to court will anything change? A few of us are now taking legal action so hopefully things will be about to change.
But in the meantime, it makes me question where I want to spend my money this Christmas. Why should I give my cash to a business which discriminates against my son, and expects him to lay on a dirty toilet floor or sit in a dirty pad, when I could give it to another business who's moral and ethical approach has been the only thing needed to change their facilities for the customers they value.
In 2018 I hope two things happen, firstly I hope the government finally gets their priorities in line and legislate for this and secondly I hope other large businesses will #BeMoreIkea.
You can help to make a change by continuing to ask, share and tell.
Ask businesses for changes
Tell them the reasons they should
Share your stories on social media
Use this hashtag on social media #BeMoreIkea, so that we can see and share your posts and stories.