Worthing is well known for its elderly population, it has a nickname of ‘God’s waiting room’ and on an average day in Worthing, you will encounter more people over 60 than under. So why then was there no toilet in our town center that our aging population could use if they needed help from a carer etc. Why when we have 2 special needs schools, a very busy child development center, and numerous care homes for disabled and elderly people, why was there still no toilet with a host or changing bed?
I’ll be honest, before I had William it wasn’t something I had ever considered and during my campaigning, I realized that it wasn’t something most other people had considered either. Unless you need these facilities it’s unlikely you’ll realize that they aren’t available for those who do need them.
So when I contacted our local council in 2013 to ask why we didn’t have one and when we were getting one it should not have been a surprise to find that the people I was speaking to had no idea what I was talking about.
It took me quite some time to find out who I needed to speak to, who the powers to be and even longer to get a response from them. How did I do it? Simple, I got the press involved!
No joke, as soon as the local paper had a front page story showing my little boy lying on the toilet floor, the people with the authority to make changes were knocking on my door!
After that, it was simply a case of convincing the council that not providing these facilities was not an option. A suitable location was found and plans were put in place. But it was slow moving and that was frustrating for me as I like things to happen NOW!
It turned out that our Changing Places facility was part of a £90,000 refurbishment to existing public toilets. But even with that much money being spent there still wasn’t enough, local charity Worthing Scope donated £10,000 and I took on the task of raising some more to add to the pot.
I set up a crowdfunding campaign and convinced local businesses to donate various items which could be offered to supporters in return for a pledge. The local press were really supportive and within 30 days we had raised well over our £5,000 target!
In September 2015 our brand new Changing Places toilet was officially opened!
It was hard work but it was worth every minute as now I can spend as long as I want in the town with William without having to worry about where I will take him if he needs the toilet.
Worthing borough council have already agreed that one isn’t enough so I am working with them to install another facility soon.