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Changing Places to make a difference

06 April 2022 : Council news, Community, Environment

Somerset West and Taunton Council has been awarded Government funding to deliver two new Changing Places toilets.

The Council has been allocated £96,360 from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities towards the facilities in Taunton and Minehead.

The larger, accessible toilets are for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets, and include specialist equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches, and space for carers.

One is planned in Tower Street, Taunton, and another in the Summerland Car Park, Minehead, which will be delivered by Minehead Town Council who worked in partnership with SWT to prepare the bid.

The Government has allocated £23.5m worth of funding across 191 councils, which will see 513 new Changing Places toilets installed in public places and tourist attractions across England.

There are currently just over 1,300 registered Changing Places toilets in England, but the phase one funding will bring that figure to more than 1,800.

Chris Hall, Director of Place and Climate Change at SWT, said: “SWT is committed to promoting equality and improving the quality of life for everyone, regardless of their background or personal circumstances.

"Securing this funding means we can make a real difference to the residents and visitors who need to use our facilities and cannot use standard accessible toilets.”

A spokesperson for Minehead Town Council said: “We are very pleased to have a share of this funding which means local authorities can provide specialised toilet facilities enabling everyone to get out and about and enjoy visits to places like Minehead.”

As co-chairs of the Changing Places Consortium, the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK has been campaigning for the installation of more Changing Places toilets across the UK and has been supporting the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities with this programme.

The charity will be providing specialist expertise to support local councils that have been awarded funding.

Support Officers at Muscular Dystrophy UK will help SWT by providing dedicated advice and information.

They will provide a Changing Places Practical Guide and informative specialist training sessions, as well as connecting authorities and facilitating a collaborative network.

Suppliers and installation companies will also be signposted by the Changing Places Support Officers.

Robert Burley, Director of Care, Communications and Support at MDUK, said: “We look forward to supporting Somerset West and Taunton as part of our support for councils that have been awarded the funding with their Changing Places toilet installations, because they really do make a world of difference to those who depend on them.”