I’m not an exhibitionist or attention seeker, but I’ll do anything for my kids. So taking a selfie on the loo doesn’t seem like a big sacrifice.
So, why a picture of me having a wee? Because I’m sick of people being too scared, embarrassed or ignorant to discuss having a wee or poo. Everybody does it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. But because there is such a stigma around toileting, disabled people, their families and carers are currently fighting the biggest hidden battle for equality of our time.
The battle is for Changing Places toilets - accessible toilets with an adult-sized changing bench and hoist. Without these vital pieces of equipment in disabled toilets, people’s lives are at genuine risk. They are being dangerously lifted to and from toilets and have to lie on urine-soaked toilet floors to have continence and sanitary items changed.
Would you lie on a public toilet floor? The slight indignity I felt taking my toilet selfie, is nothing compared to lying on a toilet floor, I can promise you that.
This issue is being completely brushed under the carpet by government and businesses. Ignored because it’s just not fashionable and involves nappies, incontinence, urine, excrement, smells, menstruation and getting your bits out. And people just don’t want to talk about that.
My son, like hundreds and thousands of other people in the UK, needs more than just a standard toilet to do his business. He has Cerebral Palsy and cannot stand unaided. His continence is also affected by his condition.
Laying my beautiful boy down on a toilet floor is nothing short of soul-destroying. For both of us. He is seven years old and deserves so much better. What if I drop him? What if he catches something from that toilet floor (there is only so much a changing mat and antibacterial wipes can do)? What if he suffers mental health issues because of this hideous discrimination? I’m struggling to lift my seven year old, imagine how much harder it is with an adult! I’ll be finding out myself soon enough.
I can’t protect my son from this indignity and danger and that is something I find really hard to deal with, but it compels me try anything to change that.
After ten years of tireless campaigning by the disabled community, there are still only just over 1000 toilets in the entire county that my son can use. But there are millions that other people can use. Millions! How is this equality? There are hundreds of thousands of people reduced to feeling worthless, having no choice but to lie in other people’s pee or sit in their own mess. THIS IS DISCRIMINATION. And hardly anybody cares.
I’m not asking for donations, pledges or really much of your time. But if you feel strongly that everyone has the right to pee and that nobody should have to lie on a toilet floor, then please consider taking your own toilet selfie. Please help us raise awareness of this issue and bring it to the attention of the businesses you feel should be providing suitable facilities. Supermarkets, service stations, hospitals, shopping centres, tourist attractions, department stores, train stations, airports - the list goes on. They all provide toilets for everyone else so they don’t have to leave to use the loo.
And if you don’t think this concerns you. Please remember that we are all only one accident or illness away from needing these facilities. One day you or your loved one might be likely to need one and you’ll be glad you helped with a photo and a message. A very small price to pay for dignity, safety and health.
A simple photo of you doing something that most of us take for granted could change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who do not have that luxury.
On behalf of my son, and everyone who needs a little help accessing the loo – thank you!
And if you don’t want to take a selfie, although I really hope you do, please can you sign these petitions? Every voice counts.
#toiletselfie #weallneedtopee #changingplaces