This was certainly true in the case of Phil Oakland, Seafront Manager at Eastbourne Borough Council. After watching a local mother struggle to change her son on the floor of a disabled public toilet, Phil witnessed first-hand a common problem that he – like so many others – didn’t even know existed.
I was horrified to see a family suffering in what I believed to be an adequate facility It wasn’t until I’d spoken with this lady, and she had explained the concept of a Changing Places toilet, that I knew we had to enhance our disabled provision.
After conducting some initial research, Phil and his colleague Annie Wills, Head of Tourism Enterprise, were unsure of the best approach and called upon some expert advice.
“Originally, we were keen to adapt one of our existing toilets, but didn’t know how feasible this would be,” explains Annie. “So, we spoke with Robert Glover – a local resident and Changing Places campaigner, whose daughter Molly has cerebral palsy and would ultimately become a user of this new facility.”
“We discussed the practicalities, based on Robert’s hands-on experience, and quickly realised that the internal ceiling heights would be too restrictive for specialist equipment – particularly the track-hoist system.”
This, combined with similar feedback from other disabled residents, led the Eastbourne team to contact iHUS and explore the potential of a more practical, modular solution.
The brief for iHUS was simple: Build a high-spec Changing Places toilet that could be craned directly onto the seafront promenade. It was also essential that the project, which was fully-funded by Eastbourne Borough Council, caused minimal disruption to staff and the day-to-day running of the seafront. Phil comments, “With nearly four miles of coastline to manage and maintain, we needed a specialist company to fully-manage our Changing Places project, so we could remain focussed on our day jobs. Fortunately, we found that company in iHUS. Ben and his team have delivered an exceptional facility – on time, on budget, with no fuss.”
Whilst the facility remains in its infancy, Eastbourne’s seafront Changing Places toilet is already making waves with the locals.
We’re delighted with the array of positive initial feedback,” concludes Phil. “Only this morning, I received an email from a local resident stating that ‘I cannot praise it enough – this is a big leap forward to making Eastbourne more accessible and welcoming for severely disabled people’.”
With over 30 years’ experience in construction, iHUS are one of the UK’s leading disabled adaptations companies – specialising in the design and installation of Changing Places facilities.
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