Rishi Sunak has opened the first fully-accessible Changing Places toilet in the Great Ayton and Stokesley areas
The new facility at the Yatton House Centre is suitable for people with complex needs who cannot use standard disabled toilets. It has extra space, an adjustable changing bench and hoist.
He did so as Mr Sunak prepares to launch a Government consultation on proposals that similar essential facilities have to be included in all new large publicly-accessible buildings and significant redevelopments. Currently, building regulations guidance only recommends that Changing Places toilets are provided.
Mr Sunak said: “This is a very important facility for an area that has previously had no fully accessible Changing Places toilet.
“As I launch the next stage in the process of getting more of these facilities installed around the country, I am very pleased that the Yatton House Society decided to include this in their ambitious refurbishment programme.
“It will make a real difference to lives of many people with complex needs, giving them the dignity they deserve.”
Mr Sunak, who is Local Government Minister, is supporting the more than 250,000 people in the UK whose daily lives are affected by the lack of Changing Places.
Mr Sunak was alerted to the issue in 2017 when he visited the Dales School at Morton on Swale, near Northallerton. Parents of students at the school, which caters for young people with severe and complex learning needs, told of the difficulties they faced when going out as a family.
They explained how the lack of suitable toilet and changing facilities at the majority of leisure destinations and attractions made a trip out most families took for granted difficult or impossible.
The Yatton House Changing Places toilet has been created as part of the first phase of restoration and extension programme at the centre, which provides day centre services for people with learning and/or physical disabilities.
The £150,000 refurbishment included a new entrance with ramped wheelchair access, reception, IT lounge and repairs to the roof. The second phase of the work will update other parts of the centre and introduce a new teaching lounge.
The new Yatton House Changing Places toilet is now listed on the national online Changing Places map http://changingplaces.uktoiletmap.org/ which helps users find the facilities.