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.

Republished courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd, written by Chaminda Jayanetti.

Public toilets are not as convenient as they were. Getting caught short outside home has become an increasingly tricky problem as a result.

The trouble has been caused by austerity-hit councils in the UK who are not legally required to provide toilets for the public and who have cut expenditure on them in order to protect services that they are obliged by law to provide for local people.

The result is a major reduction of Ladies and Gents across the nation. According to Freedom of Information data obtained by local government researcher Jack Shaw and shared with the Observer, the number of public lavatories that local authorities have funded and maintained fell from 3,154 in 2015/16 to 2,556 in 2020/21 – a drop of 19% across the past six years, which comes on top of reductions in previous years.

Public health workers have warned that this loss of public conveniences is now causing major problems for a range of people, including the homeless, disabled, outdoor workers and those whose illnesses dictate frequent toilet use.

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The high cost of living in a disabling world

For all the advances that have been made in recent decades, disabled people cannot yet participate in society ‘on an equal basis’ with others – and the pandemic has led to many protections being cruelly eroded

Republished courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd, written by Jan Grue

At times, it feels as if the disability rights movement won. After years of groundwork, 1981 was declared the International Year of Disabled Persons. I was born that year, in Oslo, Norway, and though I did not receive my first diagnosis of muscular dystrophy until I was a toddler, the coincidence is apt enough: I was born into a world that was, at last, beginning to recognise this aspect of my being in it.

Then, from 1983 to 1992, came the United Nations’ Decade of Disabled Persons. And the Americans With Disabilities Act, the UK’s Disability Discrimination Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The turn of the millennium was marked by a litany of good intentions and disavowals of unequal treatment – by an endorsement, as the first article of the UN convention has it, of disabled people’s right to “full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”.

I came of age in this world, more or less protected by these rights. In Norway, which produced its own act in 2008, I received an education, found work and started a family. I am writing this as a tenured professor, as well-protected as a member of a protected class can be. And yet I am writing with a feeling, as Tony Soprano had it, that I came in at the end – that the best, in the sense of our best and greatest hopes for universal, rights-based protections, and for the logic of anti-discrimination, is over…

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National Trust and Accessible Tourism

The National Trust’s focus

The national trust is one of the UK’s home treasures. With beaches, gardens, pubs, lighthouses and parks, their presence all around the UK has given the public years of great experiences and education.  Like most attraction providers though, the national trust are aware that there are always improvements to their customer service and experiences, so they called us in to help out.

Open minded to accessibility

We joined some of the national trust groups and what a pleasure to work with them. We met up with Sara and her team at North Lincolnshire and South Nottinghamshire National Trust properties and had a fantastic day sharing our strategies and visitor journeys with them.

Katie and myself delivered our ‘Customer Service for All’ one day programme to delegates from The Workhouse, Gunby Estate, Hall and GardensBelton House and Tattershall Castle.  Delegates participated with tremendous enthusiasm and commitment and as always, we came away with so much as well.

What did the national trust take away?

Our learning outcomes included:

  • Building confidence and customer service skills in meeting the needs of visitors with access needs
  • Addressing inclusive operational practice
  • Action planning all aspects relating to accessibility
National trust trianing
Reflective practice

 

Our one day’s training is packed not just with the; what needs to be done, but the understanding of why your changes make a huge difference.  We involve you in the whole journey as much as the structured planning.

 

 

 

Sara offered her feedback.

‘Visits Unlimited were excellent to work with. They came with a can do attitude, shared their knowledge freely and supported the group throughout the day. The staff team felt that this was one of the most positive training sessions that they had experienced and that what they learnt would be easy to use in the workplace. Thanks Matt and Katie for spending a rewarding day and sharing your knowledge and your life experiences with us.’

Sara Blair-Manning – General Manager, North Lincolnshire & South Nottinghamshire.