Changing Places Consortium: Shaping £30million of Government Investment

Image shows the inside of a Changing Places toilet. It is a large space with blue tiled walls and equipment such as curtains, a hoist, changing bench and toilet
Changing Places Consortium
27 Sep 2021

In March 2021, the UK Government pledged £30 million investment to provide new Changing Places toilet facilities across England.

These are larger accessible toilets for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets, with equipment such as hoists, curtains, adult-sized changing benches, and space for carers. More than 250,000 people in the UK need these facilities to be able to use the toilets safely and comfortably and without them people are prevented from being able to go to and enjoy many attractions and locations.  

Before funding could be allocated, the project needed to find out where the current users already use and need the new facilities. The Changing Places Consortium, Co-chaired by Muscular Dystrophy, were tasked to launch the largest public survey of their users to collect the experiences and statistics needed to help shape public spending.  

This is where RiDC came in. We were asked to manage the survey – ensuring that a wide spread of users as possible were consulted, and that the findings gave the insight that the project needed.  We also ran seven focus groups – four with users, one with local authorities, one with manufacturers and one with campaigners. 

“RiDC came recommended, and gave us much detailed support, guidance and direction on the survey, talking us through the questions and audiences reach. They also coordinated, supported and held focus groups, producing a detailed report of the findings that was then shared with the Department of Housing to inform the funding allocation.”  

— Karen Hoe, Changing Places Manager, Muscular Dystrophy UK 

The research undertaken by RiDC demonstrated that users would like to see future provision in areas that enabled them to ‘have a day out’ and undertake recreational activities with dignity, confidence and freedom.   

The top three locations where the toilets were needed were country parks, open spaces, tourist attractions and transport networks – the journey to a destination being a key factor in planning a day out. The top three venues were beaches, motorway services and parks of gardens.  

In July 2021, the report was published and local authorities were invited to apply for the government funding to install Changing Places toilets in their area – using the research to reference where these should be installed.  

“The published findings were to aid and assist local authorities across England with their applications for funding - which had to demonstrate cross reference survey findings. They are also published on the Changing Places website to consult when looking at where to install any future provision.” 

— Karen Hoe, Changing Places Manager, Muscular Dystrophy UK

Muscular Dystrophy UK will provide specialist expertise, including Changing Places manuals and training, to support the local councils awarded funding.

“Our experience working with RiDC was very positive, professional, efficient and supportive. Great working relationships throughout the whole process and focus groups. We would absolutely choose to work with them again.” 

— Karen Hoe, Changing Places Manager, Muscular Dystrophy UK  

Read more about the Changing Places Funding Programme

Read a summary of the research