National Memorial Arboretum improves accessibility for visitors with new Changing Places Toilet
A new Changing Places Toilet facility has recently been installed at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, within the National Forest. Delivered with grant funding from the Government’s Changing Places Toilet Fund with support from Lichfield District Council, in association with Muscular Dystrophy UK, the new toilet facility will help improve the visitor experience for people who require additional support that is not met by standard accessible toilets.
Penny Revitt worked with the Arboretum to ensure that the new facility would offer a welcoming environment for users in addition to being a functional space. She previously used to visit the Arboretum with her son Sam and was eager to support the delivery of this important new facility.
“The National Memorial Arboretum team has done a wonderful job in setting up the room, creating a welcoming and generous space,” said Penny Revitt. “Having previously visited with our son Sam, who had complex needs, we are well aware of the way in which having this facility will enable others to enjoy their visit. Knowing that personal needs can be addressed on-site allows such visitors to be able to relax and plan an extended visit without worry, allowing them to enjoy the day.”
Changing Places Toilets provide more room than a standard accessible toilet and are fitted with specialist equipment such as an adult-sized changing bench and a hoist system. There are approximately 1800 such facilities across the UK registered with the Changing Places Consortium, serving more than 250,000 people who require additional support. In the 2021 Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the £30 million Changing Places Fund to support the provision of additional facilities within existing buildings in England; a grant of £31,800 was subsequently awarded to the Arboretum via Lichfield District Council in 2022.
The Changing Places Toilet installation at the Arboretum was completed by accessibility specialists Astor Bannerman and sits alongside the site’s existing accessible toilet facilities. Before the installation of the new permanent facility, the Arboretum had employed the services of Mobiloo to provide a temporary attended Changing Places Toilet at significant events.
“We are always looking for ways to make the Arboretum more accessible, improving the overall visitor experience,” said Mark Ellis, National Memorial Arboretum Lead. “The grant from the Changing Places Toilet Fund has helped us realise our long-held desire to create this much-needed facility for visitors who require additional support, removing potential accessibility barriers and ensuring that the Arboretum remains freely open to all.”
In 2021, as part of its 20th anniversary commemorations, the National Memorial Arboretum made a series of pledges relating to inclusion and accessibility, committing to providing a world-class experience for all visitors. In addition to the creation of the Changing Places Toilet facility, the Arboretum has continued to create a more open and inclusive environment with the introduction of improved visitor maps, upgraded pathways, relaxed Illuminated Arboretum sessions for people with sensory processing disorders, mental health initiatives and the creation of a new Accessibility and Inclusion Advisory Group to help identify further opportunities to enhance the visitor experience.
“Our inclusion and accessibility pledges build on our existing efforts and are designed to ensure we continue to offer a year-round space where people from all backgrounds can gather to reflect, remember and forge new memories,” continued Mark. “It is important that the National Memorial Arboretum remains a reflective space for people from all walks of life, ensuring that everyone can participate in Remembrance.”