Major grocers under fire for not providing proper accessible toilets

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Major grocers under fire for not providing accessible toilets
A scheme, called Changing Places, co-chaired by the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK, registers toilets that are fully accessible.
// Most grocers do not provide fully accessible toilets, according to research from Muscular Dystrophy UK
// 6 in 10 do not have a fully accessible toilet with all the equipment people need
// Waitrose, M&S, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland and Co-op highlighted for poor or lack of accessibly equipment

Most supermarket chains do not provide fully accessible toilets needed by a quarter of a million people in the UK, new research has suggested.

A new survey of the major grocers, including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Asda, found that six in 10 do not have a fully accessible toilet with all the equipment people need.

These toilets are used by those with disabilities including muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, the elderly and people with severe and multiple learning disabilities.

A scheme, called Changing Places, co-chaired by the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK, registers toilets that are fully accessible.

These Changing Places toilets have a toilet that sticks out like a “peninsular” – at least a metre away from the walls on either side – plus a height-adjustable changing bench, an overhead track or mobile hoist, a privacy screen and enough space for up to two carers to help.

Muscular Dystrophy UK said that without enough facilities, disabled people may not go out or have to be changed on dirty toilet floors.

The charity’s research shows that Waitrose, M&S, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland and Co-op do not have a single registered Changing Places facility.

Tesco, which partnered with Muscular Dystrophy UK earlier this year to roll out facilities at stores where there is the greatest need, has 48 registered facilities and more due to be installed later this year and in 2020.

Asda has registered seven facilities, Sainsbury’s three and Morrisons one, the charity said.

“Everyone should have the option of enjoying a bit of Christmas shopping or popping to their local supermarket to buy those festive essentials,” Muscular Dystrophy UK head of policy and campaigns Clare Lucas said.

“But because there aren’t enough Changing Places, a quarter of a million people who need these toilets won’t be able to.”

There are currently 80 registered Changing Places toilets in supermarkets and other shops across the UK.

The nearest Changing Places toilet to London’s Oxford Street is at Great Ormond Street Hospital, almost two miles away.

Meanwhile, 40 per cent of the top 50 ranked shopping centres in the UK do not have a registered Changing Places toilet, according to Muscular Dystrophy UK’s research.

“We need retailers to commit to installing these much-needed Changing Places to help tackle the exclusion disabled people face, not just at Christmas but all year round,” Lucas said.

A British Retail Consortium spokesman said: “Retailers seek to make their shops accessible to as many people as possible.

“However, costs and other practical challenges mean it is not always possible to cater to all needs in every store.”

With PA Wires

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