Purple Tuesday has arrived, and while the campaign aims to encourage UK retailers to think of the needs of their disabled customers, inspiring them to make changes to their stores that will make them more accessible, Changing Places campaigners are still questioning the support of Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer, who have both refused to install the toilets in their stores.
Changing Places differ from accessible toilets in that they are larger, and contain additional equipment, such as a changing bench, hoist and screen, which allows people living with profound or multiple disabilities, or physical disabilities such as spinal injuries or muscular dystrophy, to use the toilet safely and comfortably.
UNITE columnist and Changing Places campaigner Sarah Brisdion tweeted this morning in disappointment: “Today is #PurpleTuesday – a day where some big retailers, such as Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Asda, pretend to be inclusive for great publicity, whilst continually refusing to install #ChangingPlaces for disabled customers, breaching the Equality Act 2010.”
She added: “There is nothing inclusive about having to wee yourself or lie on a filthy toilet floor because there is no toilet you can use.”
A number of campaigners have previously asked both Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer to install Changing Places in their stores, but both companies have refused, giving varying reasons as to why they won’t install the crucial toilets in their stores. Rachel George, who blogs and tweets under @ordinaryhopes, shared a response she had received from Sainsbury’s after significant campaigning for a Changing Place in her local store, which she called “the excuse list.” The letter gave a list of reasons as to why they hadn’t yet installed any changing places, detailing their Changing Place pilot which took place in their Redhill store.
As reported in UNITE previously, blogger Mum on a Mission is one of many campaigners who has been asking Marks and Spencer to install Changing Places in their stores for over 13 years now. Laura has been forced to go as far as making a complaint under the Equalities Act to the company, who have steadfastly refused to install the facilities, claiming amongst other issues that it would be “unworkable,” saying that “significant health and safety considerations and risks arise from the introduction of additional changing facilities…these considerations include the risk of harm to our employees and customers, particularly disabled customers and their carers.”
Both Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer have not replied to UNITE’s request for comment at the time of publication.Get your copy of UNITE Magazine