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"We have to put our children on the floor covered in urine": Sussex mums campaign for proper disabled toilets

15/02/2016 23:34 GMT | Updated 15/02/2017 10:12 GMT

Parents of disabled children are campaigning for action as they are forced to change their child's nappies on the floors in public bathrooms. They want better facilities across Brighton and Hove.

Zoe Minter, from Hove, is the mother of a five year-old disabled boy: "I went to Brighton and my son Wilson needed the toilet, he's got no body control at all, he can't sit or stand or help himself.

"For me to change him in the correct manner I would have to take him to the baby changing facilities in Churchill Square, then walk him down the corridor with him in my arms and the wheelchair then go into the disabled toilets, allow him to go to the toilets then have to carry him back.

"It's a stressful time anyway trying to find a toilet within a few minutes of him making the sign that he needs to go.

"I'm on my own, I haven't got help, so I have to put him on the floor I don't have any other option."

There is one suitable toilet in Marine Drive. However, according to Ms Minter, it has its own problems.

She said: "You have to print off a disclaimer form before you go out, have that signed, and then when you get to the toilet in Marine Drive you then have to call a warden to come and open it, by which point Wilson has already wet himself.

"It's not just me, there are so many other people, you just become house bound because you can only get an hour before you then need to change them again.

"Would anybody, you or I, stand in a public disabled toilet barefoot when we have to put our children on the floor covered in urine."

Ms Minter and the parents of other disabled children have got together to start a campaign to improve the facilities of disabled toilets.

The Changing Places Toilets campaign wants all town centres to have a disabled toilet with a bench and a hoist.

Samantha Buck, from Horsham, is behind the change.org petition: "I realised that disabled loos are not for the severely disabled or elderly, they are for the limping with sticks or wheelchair users with upper mobility and can get themselves onto a toilet."

Ms. Buck, who is the mother of a nine year old son with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, needs to lift her son out of his wheelchair and place him on a flat surface before he can use the toilet.

She said: "I have to lay him on a urine soaked floor inside the disabled loo, with the second carer standing outside with the wheelchair they have to pass to me the changing accessories through the open door for all passers by to view, this is one of the most awful experiences I have to face.

"This is dangerous, unhygienic, humiliating and undignified. We take it for granted that we would not change a baby on the floor of a public toilet, so why on earth is this acceptable for disabled adult people?"

To raise awareness the group have launched a social media campaign under the hashtag #barefootchallenge. Campaigners are asking people to take a photograph of themselves with bare feet and share it online to increase awareness.

A spokesperson for Churchill Square said: "We acknowledge the concerns raised by one of our customers that there is no Changing Places style toilet in Churchill Square. This is because the centre does not currently have the space to accommodate such a facility.

"However, we are carrying out a review of all our toilet facilities and will be considering the feasibility of including a Changing Places style toilet as part of this review. In the meantime, we're maintaining the broad range of high quality toilet facilities that meet the needs of the vast majority of our customers."