Press release: New Changing Places facility at Ogden Water 16.02.24

Press Release from Calderdale Council: New Changing Places facility at Ogden Water

A new Changing Places toilet is now open at Ogden Water Country Park, improving facilities and accessibility at the Calderdale beauty spot, particularly for those with severe disabilities or complex needs.

As part of the Changing Places programme, a partnership between the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and  Muscular Dystrophy UK. Calderdale has been awarded funding for three Changing Places toilets in the borough.

Changing bed in new Ogden Water facility
Changing bed in new Ogden Water facility

The first of these was installed at Todmorden Learning Centre and Community Hub last year and work to install a Changing Places toilet is also underway at the Fire & Water building in Sowerby Bridge.

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

Ogden Water
Ogden Water

The installation of the Changing Places toilet at Ogden Water complements the wheelchair-friendly routes around the reservoir, making the site a more inclusive place to visit. It also provides the opportunity for people with a range of disabilities to enjoy the countryside and the associated mental and physical health benefits.

The Changing Places facility is currently open from 8am until 4pm, as part of the winter opening hours which will run until late March. The opening times will increase to 6am until 6pm from late March until late October.

Creating a Welcoming Space for Every Visitor at Ogden Water

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Cllr Tim Swift, said:

“Ogden Water Country Park is a popular place for walks, picnics and family outings. We want to make the site as inclusive as possible. To enable more people to enjoy the beautiful countryside and experience the many accompanying benefits.

“There are already wheelchair-friendly routes around the reservoir, but the opening of a new Changing Places toilet will support wider access for those who cannot use standard accessible toilets, ensuring that they, and their family, friends and carers, can enjoy their visit with the peace of mind that there are facilities which meet their needs.”

Ogden Water
Ogden Water

Funding for the Ogden Water facility has been provided by DLUHC in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK. With further support from Calderdale Council and the Friends of Calderdale’s Countryside. Thanks is also given to the Accessible Calderdale Disability Access

Forum for their support and guidance.

For more information about Changing Places toilets and to search for existing facilities across the country,  Click Here

To join Accessible Calderdale Click Here

Double the Impact: How Accessibility & Collaboration Make Sites Shine

Imagine exploring a stunning park, only to encounter steep steps and uneven paths that block your way. This was the reality facing accessibility audits of outdoor spaces until our incredible volunteer, Hakar, joined the team. Combining their boundless energy with tech know-how, we formed a dream duo, conquering green havens like Brackenbed Park and Branston Park twice as efficiently.

But collaboration isn’t just about speed. It’s about harnessing diverse perspectives to craft truly inclusive spaces. Hakar’s agility allowed them to dive into every corner, capturing details invisible from a wheelchair. This, paired with my experience, ensures accessibility isn’t an afterthought, but an integral part of the design.

However, not every audit is smooth sailing. My visit to Grayston Unity highlighted the importance of clear communication. Despite their dedication to inclusion, a missed appointment arose due to miscommunication. Thankfully, their commitment shone through, and the audit revealed a space brimming with potential. Even the newly treated floor, posing a temporary obstacle, couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm for creating an accessible haven for all.

So, what are the key takeaways?

1. Accessibility is for everyone: It’s not just about wheelchairs. Uneven surfaces, poor acoustics, and unclear signage can hinder anyone’s experience.
2. Collaboration is key: Combining different skillsets and perspectives leads to more comprehensive and inclusive solutions.
3. Communication is crucial: Clear and timely communication prevents missed opportunities and ensures everyone is on the same page.
4. Challenges are temporary: Obstacles like wet floors shouldn’t deter us from striving for an accessible future.

By embracing collaboration, clear communication, and a commitment to inclusivity, we can unlock the true potential of every space, ensuring everyone can enjoy the beauty and opportunity it offers. Remember, accessibility isn’t just good for some, it’s good for all. Let’s keep working together to make that a reality.

Links to:-

Brackenbed Park
Grayston Unity

To join Accessible Calderdale Click Here

HBDAF Access Map Press Release December 2023

Disability Access Forum launches revised Hebden Bridge Access Map

Hebden Bridge Disability Access Forum (HBDAF) has just published its updated Step-Free Access Map and Guide to Hebden Bridge town centre. The map was first published in 2018 but is now fully updated to December 2023.

Previous editions have been useful for ​both residents and ​visitors to the town​. Websites for local events, such as the Folk Roots Festival​​​,​ have included links to the map​.​

The new map is available to view and print at this link

Paper copies of the map and guide are available from the desk in the Town Hall foyer.

There are some changes to the Step Free Guide, as shops, cafes and other businesses have changed hands since our last update in 2022.

The access map and guide is one of many things which HBDAF does to improve access to life for disabled people in the Hebden Bridge area. Also we consult with businesses, charities and public bodies to improve access to existing and planned places, events and services.

“We need new members to help us with our work, and to share their access suggestions, concerns and lived experiences. We welcome all Deaf, disabled or neurodivergent people and those with long-term health conditions. 

Especially welcome are younger disabled people to join us so we can better represent our diverse local disabled community.

We also welcome non-disabled people as Associates to help us with our work.”

HBDAF meetings are held on the third Monday of the month at 2.30 p.m. in Hebden Bridge Town Hall and via Zoom. Contact for details, or phone 01422 844914

HBDAF is a working group of Hebden Royd Town Council

HBDAF Access Map

Accessibility was a major issue during my stay at Lumley Castle.

My latest excursion was to the far North – historic Durham, Lumley Castle to be precise, for the Visit Durham Autumn Conference.

Accessibility was a major issue during my stay at Lumley Castle.

I’d agreed to go to represent all our groups and ended up presenting, much to my surprise!

Very interesting event almost scuppered by a mix-up on my arrival the night before.

We’d booked a room for the night before (we have documentary proof!), but when I arrived – no booking to be found. No booking for any accessible room under any name at all!

Turned out, after a frantic half-hour. That there was a booking for me on the day of the conference – I’d been put on the wrong page!.

After a quick check by the cleaning staff, I was in!

But into what? A long portable ramp was deployed to overcome two steps on entry to the corridor. This had to be left in place for my whole 24-hour stay, although the entrance led to five other bookable rooms.

I was then shown into a comfortably large room and left to explore.

It was listed as an accessible room on the website but after a thorough look around I could only find one vertical grab rail in the shower pod which constituted any form of aid – no rails around the toilet, no bath, no accessible shower, no shower seat, in fact no room to turn around in the bathroom!

Watch this space!

Luckily, the Conference was great – string of interesting talks and presentations, lots of lovely people to meet.

An image of five people in front of a large fireplace. Chris is in the centre.
An image of five people in front of a large fireplace. Chris is in the centre.


My talk went down well I think. In it I had listed several places I’d audited in Durham, including Raby Castle, which I luckily gave a glowing report. As I finished, a smiling gentleman came up to me and shook my hand, introducing himself as the interim Chair of Visit Durham. Turned out he was the CEO of Raby! I’ve now got an invitation to return!

Afterwards, I bought some “Coals from Newcastle” from the display of local trades held next door. Black honeycomb as you ask. Then headed home in time for dinner.

Next trip – UK Tourism in exotic Leeds next week!

Intrepid Chris

Read more about the Autumn Conference 2023 Here


Britain loses hundreds of public toilets

Cash-strapped councils have closed a fifth of conveniences, leaving some people with no choice but to stay close to home.

Vanishing Conveniences: Accessible Toilets Under Threat

Across the UK, public toilets are disappearing at an alarming rate, leaving many with limited options and a growing sense of urgency. This critical shortage, driven by budget cuts in cash-strapped councils, disproportionately impacts those who rely on accessible facilities the most.

Austerity measures have eroded legal obligations for councils to provide public toilets, creating a loophole exploited to save money. This has resulted in a staggering 19% decrease in public lavatories over the past six years, with the total plummeting from 3,154 in 2015/16 to a mere 2,556 in 2020/21. The consequences are dire, especially for vulnerable groups like the homeless, disabled, and individuals with specific medical needs.

The lack of accessible toilets creates a daily struggle. For those with mobility limitations, the absence of proper facilities can severely restrict their movements and participation in everyday activities. Similarly, for individuals suffering from chronic illnesses like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, the sudden need for a toilet can quickly turn into a desperate search with potentially humiliating consequences.

Malvern Theatres: A Boost for Accessibility with New Changing Places Toilet
Malvern Theatres: A Boost for Accessibility with New Changing Places Toilet

Furthermore, the loss of public conveniences poses a significant public health risk. Homeless individuals are forced to resort to unsanitary alternatives, increasing the risk of disease transmission. Outdoor workers may also struggle to find appropriate facilities, compromising their health and well-being.

This alarming trend demands immediate action. Rethinking the legal obligation for councils to provide accessible public toilets is crucial. Additionally, exploring alternative funding models, such as partnerships with private businesses or community initiatives, could offer sustainable solutions. Ultimately, ensuring everyone has access to clean and accessible toilets is not just a matter of convenience, but a fundamental human right and a critical public health concern.

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