Changing Place

Sandall Park and Accessibility

The rationale behind the project, as described by the Chair of the Group: Sandra

From the outset of the Friends of Sandall Park becoming involved in the regeneration of the park, accessibility has been key:

  • All the new picnic benches are wheelchair friendly with an extension at one end
  • Disabled access path was installed from the car park towards the lake edge
  • Disabled parking bays were installed in the car park at our request
  • Disabled fishing pegs were created
  • The fitness equipment was advised upon by a Disability Consultant, including access to the equipment
  • The sensory trail was geared towards disability and visual impairment
  • The disabled toilet was brought up to standard (requests for repairs to the alarm and an outside warning light installed)
  • We have installed an Inclusive Nest Swing
  • We successfully crowdfunded for a wheelchair roundabout
  • The FoSP have been the case study for a University Student studying accessibility.

There are numerous visitors to the park who have disabilities, both children and adults. Each day of the week there can be seen at least two and usually more, coaches and mini-bus trips of special needs adults and children. The park caters for everything that they want.

The history behind the concept of the ‘Project’

On 15th March 2018 an article was tweeted by DMBC about a guide to venues in Doncaster: – www.disabled.go which described accessibility and disabled facilities in great detail. {“It includes comprehensive access information for 1,000 venues in the area including libraries, leisure centres, restaurants, shopping centres and lots more! Most important of all, everywhere has been visited and assessed by trained surveyors, so you can get all the facts, knowing someone has actually been”}.
Sandall Park has a detailed report included.[1]

An article was put on FoSP Facebook page about the guide, receiving 1,582 views and some relevant comments. One such comment referred to the lack of Changing Places:
“Sadly, not one of the places in the 3 pages (30 in total) has a Changing Places Facility to take care of adults with disabilities. Up to now these people are forced to get changed laying on the floor of the toilet blocks. Not very healthy to say the least”.

There are 5 Changing Places in Doncaster: 4 in Town Centre (Cast Theatre; Frenchgate Centre; Civic Building; Lakeside) and one outside Doncaster. – Yorkshire Wildlife Park). There are 1104 nationwide (as at 2019).

The Changing Places terminology I had not previously heard of, though I had heard discussions on TV about carers having to change adults on toilet floors. So I did a little research, having discussed the issue with the author of the comment. It soon became apparent that although we had some good facilities, bearing in mind the number of  people with disabilities that visited the park, we were still a good way behind in providing the perfect service.

My initial idea was to install a drop down changing bed in the existing Disabled Toilet, once the café is open and providing normal disabled access toilets. This created a couple of issues:
1. Is the wall structurally sound and it will it take the weight of a person on a drop-down bed?
2. The door to the Radar access toilet is often left open and would therefore leave the facility vulnerable to misuse.

The second idea came during a meeting on 10th May 2018 hosted by DMBC’s Visitor Economy Group, of which I am a member, with the guest speakers being from Changing Places (a national organisation http://www.changing-places.org/).

The presentation was very detailed, thought provoking and inspirational. I decided at this point that a Changing Places Unit in Sandall Park was the answer.

Case Study

By pure coincidence Don and I went down to the park  (Sunday 13th May 2018).

Whilst there taking photographs  a lady was trying to reverse out of the baby change but the pushchair – which turned out to be a wheelchair – was too wide. We assisted her out of the doorway and it was then we realised that it wasn’t a baby in the pushchair but a severely disabled  15yr old girl. The lady was very distraught, she needed to change her daughter.

Don opened the Radar toilet for her, she took one look inside and became even more upset. I’ll have to put her on the floor, or sit on the toilet and have her on my knee, the floor isn’t clean”. We were very apologetic. Joyce’s daughter was quite large for her to be balancing across her knee to be changed.

Joyce Curry lives in Edlington but had been to collect her daughter who had been in respite at Thorne. They’d called at the park to see the ducks and enjoy the sunshine, as everyone else was doing at that time. She needed to change her – and had to make do.

 

As a direct result we have attended seminars and had quotes for the installation of a Changing Place. We have just been waiting for the cafe development to progress (It was approved at Planning Committee Meeting 4th February 2020) so that a CP can be installed in what is now the gents toilet block. 

Our campaign to have one installed has now taken on a new energy and we are in talks with DMBC and relevant partners to progress it. 

[1] Another similar guide is www.euansguide.com

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