Four new Changing Places facilities will be created in key visitor locations in Babergh and Mid Suffolk following a successful bid for grant funding for almost £200,000.
Changing Places facilities are larger accessible toilets that feature specialist equipment such as hoists, privacy screens, adult-sized changing benches, peninsula toilets with ample space for carers.
Working with key partners to identify suitable locations, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils were awarded the full allocation of their bid, meaning that each district will benefit from two Changing Places facilities.
In Babergh, the first new Changing Places facility will be installed at Flatford Mill, working in partnership with the National Trust who will manage the facilities on an ongoing basis. As one of the most popular visitor attractions in the district, its introduction will make this important site more accessible for a range of visitors.
The second facility will be developed at Belle Vue Park in Sudbury, which could either be part of the proposed new café or as a stand-alone unit.
Commenting on the funding, Leigh Freeman, National Trust said:
“Everyone should have the right to benefit from nature, beauty and history and the positive benefits that special places like Flatford and the Dedham Vale can offer. People with severe disabilities and their families should be able to enjoy their day without having to worry about whether they can access suitable facilities. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to enjoy Flatford and Dedham Vale every year and we’re working hard to make Flatford a more accessible place to visit. We’re incredibly grateful to Babergh District Council for their support in putting us forward to benefit from the Changing Places fund.”
Cllr John Ward, leader, Babergh District Council, said:
“I am delighted that we have received funding to build two new Changing Places facilities in the district and in partnership with one of our key visitor attractions. The introduction of these facilities will mean more people with a range of disabilities can access and enjoy more of our wonderful attractions.”
In Mid Suffolk, the council has worked with the Food Museum, formerly the Museum of East Anglian Life, in Stowmarket, as well as Stradbroke Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre, run by operator Everyone Active, to agree the new Changing Places facilities.
Jenny Cousins, director, Food Museum, commented:
“We are really thrilled that we are going to be able to build a Changing Places facility in Stowmarket town centre. Many people will really benefit from access to these facilities and it’s really important in enabling people to leave their homes and live a full life.”
Simon Fearn, Everyone Active’s regional contract manager, said:
“We are very pleased that Changing Places is coming to Stradbroke Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre as it will enhance the inclusivity of the site and encourage as many people in the community as possible to get active.”
Cllr Suzie Morley, leader, Mid Suffolk District Council, said:
“It is hugely important that all residents and visitors to our district can access the appropriate facilities for them. The funding for two new Changing Places toilets will go a long way in meeting the needs of visitors to Stowmarket and Stradbroke, as well as those visiting Needham Lake which also has a new Changing Places facility.”
The funding provided to each district was based on several factors including the current provision of Changing Places toilets, and the proportion of a local authority’s population which are classified as disabled based on 2011 census data.