There are 1000s of leisure centres in the UK. They act as a hub within the community, offering a wide range of activities to suit people of all ages and interests. They provide great benefits, like more opportunities to socialise and stay active.
However, very few leisure centres have Changing Places toilets. Unfortunately, this excludes over 250,000 people across the UK. People with disabilities and their families cannot get the full benefit of leisure centres without suitable facilities for personal care.
In this article, we will cover four key reasons why Changing Places are a great investment for any leisure centre!
1. From 2021, it’s a legal requirement
Any new public buildings, such as art galleries, universities and, of course, leisure centres, will be legally required to install Changing Places facilities from 1 January 2021.
Following consultation, this is the government’s response to a proposal to increase the provision of Changing Places toilets.
Did you know: The proposal was launched by the Changing Place Consortium. The charity has been campaigning for more accessible toilets since 2005!
As leisure centres are very popular, it is crucial that they cater to their customers’ needs and requirements. These new regulations are helping to address the needs of disabled people who have been previously overlooked.
It’s a great opportunity to welcome more people into the leisure centre!
2. There’s funding available!
Lack of funding is often an issue for community leisure centres, but it doesn’t have to be.
In the 2020 Budget, a £30 million Changing Places fund was announced. This money is reserved for existing public buildings – not new builds!
So, if you are currently running a leisure centre, you should not hold back on getting a Changing Place installed. It isn’t technically a legal requirement for you, yet. But you wouldn’t want to miss the funding opportunity.
We will be keeping you updated on how and when to apply for funding over the coming months.
You should also bear in mind the Purple Pound. The spending power of disabled people was at around £250 billion last year in the UK.
Fact: Businesses lose approximately £2 Billion a month by ignoring the needs of disabled people!
So that is a big indicator that these public areas need to be accessible.
By making your leisure centre a more inclusive environment, you open doors for more people to enjoy (and spend money at) your facility
Worried about space not funding?
Don’t be! Changing Places can be easily installed into an existing building. At Innova, we offer the complete package. Our team will handle design, installation, and guarantee signoffs from Changing Places accreditations.
We will work with builders and/or architects on your behalf. So, everything is completed smoothly and up to standard.
3. It is everyone’s responsibility to make the UK more inclusive
Over 250,000 people rely on Changing Places whilst out, and everyone should be catered for.
Fact: More than 1 in 5 potential UK consumers have a disability – that’s 13.3 million people!
When you’re thinking about making your leisure centre accessible, a Changing Place is an essential addition.
In 2020, during lockdown, the public has been made increasingly aware of the isolation people with disabilities and their families experience daily. So, with the inclusion of Changing Places in leisure centres, we can ensure everyone is safe, cared for, and able to enjoy themselves.
4. There are wider business benefits
We appreciate that leisure centres are businesses. They need to watch their expenses to remain open and serving their community.
But there are great business benefits from having a Changing Place too!
The general public now have higher expectations of inclusive access.
We expect venues to cater to everyone’s needs. Creating equality and preventing discrimination is extremely important for building a positive reputation. Taking steps to install a Changing Place is great local publicity.
It really shows you care about the whole community. Plus, it may generate some recommendations!
Not only does it improve public relations, but keeping in mind the Purple Pound, it can quickly pay for itself. Even without applying for funding.
Fact: 75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a UK business because of poor accessibility or customer service.
As you can see, there are many benefits for leisure centres. Ultimately, not having a Changing Place could be the key reason a family choose not to use your leisure centre. Investing in inclusive facilities can turn them into loyal customers! Plus, looking longer term, not having a Changing Place could lead to legal issues.
Are there any disadvantages?
Occasionally, Leisure Centre Managers have some concerns about how Changing Places would work for their facility.
So, we are addressing some common questions…
The two main concerns are cost, and how a Changing Places facility would fit into their plans – especially in existing buildings.
Cost – As mentioned above, within the next few months, £30 million is being allocated to Changing Places. This will ensure existing leisure centres have the opportunity to incorporate a Changing Places facility within their building.
Size – If space is an issue, modular Changing Places can be built outside of the building!
Take a look at our National Galleries of Scotland install. We worked with Portakabin to build a Changing Places facility to overcome the gallery’s building restrictions (they are a listed building).
If an outdoor facility isn’t possible, there is a way to compromise. You can make the room 3x3m as opposed to 4x3m.
This still has all the specialist equipment, like a hoist and changing bench. However, it cannot be signed off as a registered Changing Place.
To help you visualize sizing and everything inside the room, we can provide you with a render drawing like so…
Get a quote for your Changing Place
We can provide a render of how the full room would look, offer more advice on funding, provide full designs and quotes: