Shared spaces

One of the most frustrating things facing disabled people today is the amount of establishments that insist on creating shared toilet spaces.


Whilst for many this may be because they simply don’t have the space to create a changing area alongside a disabled toilet, for others it seems to just be a cost cutting exercise meaning the disabled toilet becomes, quite simply, a token effort.

Why is this such a problem? After all the facilities are provided free of charge. We asked this question of our group members, it makes for interesting reading.

Claire Pickles Tyer writes “On the holiday park where I own a caravan the one disabled loo in the entertainment complex is shared with baby changing, and on a busy Saturday night having to wait whilst a mum has taken three kids into the loo so kids and mum can use loo, baby can have a clean bum whilst I’m sitting outside get a wet one!!! I have also discovered some motorway service stations having the same set up. I’m a mum. I wasn’t disabled when they were babies. I used to also travel a lot so every where I went, I carried with me a fold up changing mat and, if necessary I would be on the floor changing a nappy rather than have a specific room. To disabled people, it’s a necessity but to companies it’s just money they need to spend and it’s wrong.”

Mike Cheeseman raises another problem too “It’s those shared loo’s where they place a supposed disabled cubicle then fill with junk and as I need space to transfer really p****s me off.”

Kate Elson highlights a common issue when the space is shared “When it’s filled with baby change the whole place stinks! There is a loo at The Barns near Cannock in Staffordshire which does this. I got some pretty horrid looks from folk when I started turfing their junk into the corridor in front of the ‘normal’ loos!”

As with most things it isn’t just the disabilities that most people may be familiar with (and therefore blaise) it is also those with more complex requirements as Paula Davis points out “I hate this too:( Having MS I vary and if I can I use the normal loo’s. If I’m struggling or using my wheelchair then I have no choice as I need the space and aids in the disabled loo. We also need more changing places for those with complex disabilities. Trying to change a 16 year olds pad in a disabled toilet is awful. It takes two of us, often with two wheelchairs to park. I’m unsteady and he’s a big lad now, having to get trousers, shoes etc off him in grotty toilets is just gross.”

Our stance is this, making disabled toilets a shared space means disabled people suffer. How? Because they are forced to wait so much longer than they need to. For some this can be very uncomfortable.

What are your thoughts and experiences? We want to hear from you, can you recommend an establishment where your experience has been pleasant? Have you been out somewhere and vowed never to return?

Changing Places are certainly the way forwards and with this in mind we’re backing this petition.

Leave your comments below.


5 thoughts on “Shared spaces

  1. I’m a mum and full time wheelchair user. I hate it when the accessible loos aren’t big enough and some bright spark puts the baby change and nappy bin in the only transfer space in the loo…so unhelpful. And as an aside note, despite being located in the accessible loo, the baby change table is never reachable to a wheelchair user! Ironically taking the pi$$ out of me while I try to take a pi$$!!


  2. Way too many places now have “shared” toilets. The worst place for this I’ve found is Costa Coffee. Many people with varying disabilities need a look asap, as when it’s needed you get little warning, me included.
    Heaven help you if you’re in Costa when “Costa Creche” are in there, as you’ve little chance of reaching the toilet at all. If you do get through the door often the changing table will have been left in the down position, trapping you in your chair or the nappy bin moved under the drop down assistance bars!


    1. Interestingly the feature photograph was taken at a branch of Costa Coffee! The photographer had to wait for 15 minutes whilst the facility was used by a father with a young boy.


  3. One of the worse places for me is believe it or not is my local hospital’s Eye Dept One abled bodied loo one wheelchair accessible,the Dept is 9/10 really busy with a majority of old folks. They are forever using the accessible loo. Also being a bi-lateral amputee I can’t transfer as the height difference is to great. I once asked staff for a disposable bottle and was told” We don’t supply bottles to outpatients with bottles”. I was forced to purchase an unwanted cup of coffee(papercup) to use the toilet. Most Depts have shared accessible toikets in that hospitak.and it’s bl**dy annoying!


    1. My local hospital is also terrible for disabled bay abuse (usually from staff members). Having to pee in a cup though John is an utter disgrace! Thank you for sharing your experience with us John .


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