Disabled toilet access: ‘I don’t want mum helping me use the loo’

A 21-year-old who uses a wheelchair has spoken of his embarrassment at having to rely on his mother to use a public toilet because of a lack of facilities.

Josh Rosenthal, who has limited mobility because of cerebral palsy, said there were no fully accessible toilets in his hometown of Llanelli.

Campaigners said larger areas of Wales had no toilet access at all.

The Welsh government has given councils a year to set out how they will improve the situation.

Mr Rosenthal said he found it hard to leave home because of the lack of adequate toilet facilities in his Carmarthenshire hometown.

“I’m a 21-year-old man and I don’t want to have my mum helping me to use the loo,” he said.

The Swansea University student said he could barely fit his wheelchair into the disabled toilet in Llanelli Market.

He said he needed facilities with specialist equipment like a hoist lift.

Aveso Ltd
Campaigners want more Changing Places toilets in Wales – like this one at Glasgow Central Station

But Carmarthenshire council currently has only two fully accessible “Changing Places” public toilets- one in Carmarthen and another in Kidwelly – which have a hoist and changing bench for people with profound learning or physical disabilities.

“If you have to ask people ‘can I have a hand to get in the loo’, how is that going to make you feel?” said Mr Rosenthal.

“It’s going to make you feel like you’re a burden and then eventually, if you’re not careful, you lose the ability to be independent because you stop trying.”

He said he understood councils were struggling financially, but added “we’re talking about a basic human right and a basic human need”.

Changing Places Consortium
Map of fully accessible toilets in Wales – those that have hoist lifts and changing tables

In a directive last week, the Welsh government said under the Public Health (Wales) Act, councils have one year to set out how they will improve the availability of all toilet facilities.

But the accessible toilets campaign group, Changing Places Consortium, called on ministers to announce more specific targets.

Wales has only 47 fully accessible toilets to serve an estimated 12,000 people who need them.

Marion Messmer, from Changing Places Consortium, said a map of accessible toilet locations across the UK shows huge gaps in Wales, especially in rural areas, which tourists who need fully accessible toilets may be avoiding.

“Wales has large areas where there’s no toilet access at all,” she said.

“That’s devastating for those people because it means if they need to go to the toilet they can’t go which means they need to stay home.”

Carmarthenshire council said it was undertaking a review of toilet provision in the county.

Councillor Hazel Evans, who is executive board member for environment, said: “Consideration of Changing Places toilets will form part of a review, which will look at provision and access across the county, making better use of existing facilities and finding creative solutions to increase toilet provision.”

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-44374562

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