C of E, all mod. cons? Yorkshire parish opens ultra-accessible disabled toilet

07 July 2017

PAUL TUDGE 

A CHURCH in Farsley, West York­shire, is believed to be the first to open a fully accessible Changing Places Toilet for severely disabled adults and children.

The initiative was inspired by a visit to the London Paralympics by the Vicar of St John’s, Farsley, the Revd Paul Tudge, and his wife, Rosie, who have two disabled sons, aged 19 and 18. The lavatories offer far more than standard disabled lavatories: the new one at St John’s has a hoist, an adult-sized changing table, and a shower.

The new lavatory (below) has been put in as part of a series of works to make St John’s more accessible and welcoming, and is open round the clock for anyone with a RADAR key. The cost was about £35,000, which was raised by the church.

Mrs Tudge said: “A Changing Places Toilet and a standard dis­abled toilet couldn’t be more differ­ent: if you are confined to a wheel­chair, it is impossible to lift yourself out in a standard toilet. . . Our new loo has an electric table that goes up and down to change children and adults, and a hoist, and there is a room for a person in a wheelchair and a carer.”

Most city centres now have a Changing Places Toilet, but St John’s is believed to be the first church to install one.

Mrs Tudge is encouraging other churches to think about installing their own. “There are lots of charities that will help with funding, where it is seen as a community project. Once we started the project, we discovered people in our own congregation who had struggled to come to church without good toilet facilities.”

The lavatory has an external door, which means that it can be used at all times — not just by the church, but by the whole community. St John’s has put up signs in prominent locations around the area so that people become aware of the new facilities.

To mark its official opening, the architect Mike Overton tore the toilet-roll sash across the door, and cut the four-toilet-roll cake. Mrs Tudge tweeted: “This is not just your bog standard toilet!”

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