The Ulster Unionist Party’s Communities spokesperson Andy Allen MBE MLA has welcomed the announcement this week of two new state-of -the-art facilities for those with severe disabilities. In a statement the MLA, who is himself a wheelchair user, called on the Finance and Communities Ministers to go further in delivering more ‘Changing Places’.
Andy Allen MLA said:
“I welcome the news that two fantastic facilities have been created at Belfast Zoo and Stormont Estate. These ‘Changing Places’ allow those with severe disabilities and their carers the ability to access toileting and personal hygiene in a safe and comfortable Environment.
“While these facilities will make a major difference to those with specific needs when visiting either location, there is still much more to be done.
“Today I have written to both the Finance and Communities Ministers, calling on them to further focus on delivering for those who need these facilities.
“In September last year the Finance Minister made a very welcome statement that he intended to bring forward changes to the technical guidance of the building regulations to make Changing Places Toilets a requirement in new buildings – this is still an outstanding matter which I have raised in a letter to the minister, asking him to ensure this is completed in the current mandate.
“I have also written to the Communities Minister asking her to urgently consider the creation of a fund which would offer assistance to those with buildings who wish to adapt existing facilities to Changing Places. A similar fund was recently provided with £30 million in England, showing the commitment the Westminster government places on supporting these facilities.
“It cannot be acceptable that a parent or carer should be forced to change, clean or dress a severely disabled child or adult on a dirty toilet floor. The Executive must recognise that these facilities are a priority and treat them as such.”