Updated: Apr 18, 2020
In the last few years there has been a lot of coverage of the battle for logical loos. We’ve seen strong campaigns from advocates for proper changing places for disabled people in public – the images of disabled people and children being changed on the floors of toilets are both heart breaking and enraging.
This last few weeks have also seen a lot of coverage for the availability of children’s changing tables to Fathers – an issue that plagued me when my 9-year-old was a baby and I was her main carer. Don’t get me wrong I have seen changing tables in men’s toilets on a very rare occasion but they’re certainly not something you would place your child on. Usually filthy and/or next to the standing urinals – it’s not men that aren’t being considered its children. It’s not the carers that aren’t being considered with a lack of changing places, it’s the disabled.
Of course, it’s the Dads and carers that show their frustration but it’s not for us, it’s for the people we love who we see going without the most basic human decency.
Speaking as a Father
The frustration is with the culture that we live in being all about equality and ending sexist views apart from when it comes to men. Imagine going to a place where the only baby changing facilities are in the men’s toilet, there would probably be a public outrage. The place would be named and shamed and called to answer for their oversight, questions would be asked of the designers for the building and the problem would probably be rectified by the end of the month. It makes us angry not because we don’t feel cared for but because we don’t feel like we can care for our children – not because somebody has failed us but because we feel like we’ve failed them, the children, because if they had a mother with them instead of us, they wouldn’t be crying, they would be changed and we would carry on but now we have to go home.
Speaking as a carer
As somebody that cares for a child with a disability I have to accept that people don’t think. They don’t think about access, about the things they do that they take for granted or the things that they say that are incredibly insensitive – people don’t mean to be thoughtless… they just are. As a carer you must become like a snooker player, you don’t just focus on the shot you’re taking, you have to think of the next 2 or 3 shots in order to stay on the table. Your brain is always a few steps ahead.
What I can’t accept however is when people don’t care, and this is what it’s all about the lack of care. Many shops and buildings were probably set up without thinking about the logic of having loos that accommodate everybody – as I said, we’re used to that. However now that the community of carers and disabled people have come to companies about the issue, it’s no longer a lack of thought but a lack of care. They know the issues now, they just don’t care. This is why the feeling persists that we have to make them care, it goes alongside the fear of – what if we weren’t here to care, or if we’re not in the future?
This week we went to a coffee morning for Mums and Dads of children who tube-feed, we asked staff from the coffee shop in the building about where the changing places toilet was (this is why the building was chosen) and they insisted that there wasn’t one there. So, we walked to the other end of the building to ask at reception who informed us that it was back the way we came (down the corridor from the coffee shop). After touring the building to find somebody who knew about the facilities one of the parents said how “lucky” we are to live where we do because we have 8 changing spaces in the city which is more than most.
8 changing places toilets in the whole city that disabled people can use
– there are more toilets than that in most buildings in the city. Nothing has ever been changed or achieved by those willing to settle for the mediocre and so we mustn’t be satisfied for the disability box to be checked in a way that satisfies minimum requirement when it doesn’t satisfy the needs of those we’re called to stand up for.
Give us logical loos, for the disabled, for fathers and for those with basic needs not yet fulfilled
Regarding logical loos I want to give a shout out to IKEA, their baby changing facilities in my closest store are the best I’ve seen for Fathers. Unfortunately, they don’t have a changing place yet but to answer the call I believe they are being put in to all of the newer IKEA stores with a view to getting them into existing stores too. I have happily spent my time constructing the furniture in Lydia’s bedroom because if IKEA are happy to support her and her friends then we are happy to support IKEA and call more companies to #bemoreIKEA