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Life-changing twins

13 February 2015

THEY are proud in Skelmersdale, in Liverpool diocese, of being the first Toilet Twinned Town. They have been given the award by Lorraine Kingsley, the CEO of the charity Toilet Twinning, in recognition of the town's fund-raising efforts to twin local lavatories with latrines in poor countries.

Skelmersdale - or Skem, as it is known locally - has long been on a roll, Serena Boyd writes. "For several years now, many local churches, schools, companies, and community groups have been twinning not only their own toilets, but also other people's through what they call 'guerrilla twinning'. Once a toilet is twinned, it receives a certificate, with its twin's photo and GPS co-ordinates."

The enthusiasm and fund-raising has been driven by the Vicar of St Paul's, the Revd Chris Spittle. "Toilet twinning has really captured the imagination of the churches in Skem," he says. "And those we have shared it with have loved it, too. It's been great to see churches, schools, care homes, businesses, shops, pubs, community centres, and our Mayor and MP all agreeing to receive a toilet twin.

"It's a fun way to make a difference and tackle a really serious global issue."

He first introduced his own church to the idea in 2011, and set the members of the congregation the target of twinning all four of their own church lavatories, using a lavatory bowl for collecting. They far exceeded their goal, raising enough to fund two latrines and two school lavatory-blocks in Burundi.

Since then, the enthusiasm has spread across the town. There have been many jokes, "but toilets are, literally, life-savers in places where we work," Ms Kingsley says.

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