Why do Service Stations need Changing Places?

There are just shy of 200 service stations in the UK.  They are used day and night 365 days a year.  We’ve all visited one and stopping at a service station is a key part of any long car journey. So, why should a service station have a Changing Places facility?

There are over 250,000 people in the UK with disabilities meaning they require help with changing and using the toilet. Without a suitable Changing Places toilet, having a rest stop and toilet break is almost impossible when travelling.

In this article, we will cover 3 reasons why all service stations should make installing a Changing Place a top priority.

Updated Tuesday 21st June 2022

1)     People with disabilities face unacceptable travel restrictions

Everyone knows that moment on a long journey when the service station is 1 mile away and it feels like the longest mile ever. Then finally, you arrive. You can get some food, stretch your legs, and, crucially, go to the toilet.

However, imagine if when you arrived there were no toilet facilities. Or, instead of driving 1 mile, you had to drive 100.

How far could you go?

The scenario above is the reality for hundreds of thousands of disabled people.

There is one registered Changing Place on the M6 Southbound. That’s a 232 mile stretch of motorway.

These people and their families are faced with a choice – sit uncomfortably for hours, put themselves at risk using unsuitable facilities, or avoid long-distance travel altogether. This is unacceptable.

Changing Places Lord's
Changing Places are essential for a service station as it offers confidence to disabled people and their families.

It is everyone’s responsibility to make the UK more inclusive

We’ve heard many stories from people about the situations they’ve faced when travelling.  From carers having to physically lift people out of their power wheelchair because the bathroom door isn’t wide enough to people laying on the toilet floor because there is only a baby changing mat that is clearly too small.

This is incredibly unsanitary, uncomfortable, and undignified, for both the disabled person and their carer.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, summed up the issue:

“In a modern country, everyone should be able to travel. Despite improvements in some areas, we need our roadside services to be better for the quarter of a million people who cannot use standard accessible toilets.”

By putting yourself in someone else’s position, it becomes clear why Changing Places are important.

Adding Changing Places facilities to a service station offers confidence to disabled people and their families. They have somewhere to stop, change, and refresh safely and in a dignified way.

2)     Funding has been allocated just for service stations

Following the government announcement in 2021 of a £30m Changing Places fund, the Chancellor confirmed in the 2022 Spring Statement that over £23.5 million of that funding has been allocated to 191 councils across England, helping to install Changing Places toilets in public places and tourist attractions in areas where users want them most.

Currently, there are just over 1,300 registered Changing Places toilets in England, but the new funding package will bring the total number of Changing Places toilets to 1,813.

Changing Places Sign
The Department for Transport (DfT), in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK, announced £1.27 million to install 37 more Changing Places at service stations across England.

In addition to funding for local authorities, there is also funding currently available for Changing Places in service stations.

The Department for Transport (DfT), in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK, announced £1.27 million to install 37 more Changing Places at service stations across England.

We know that budgets are the deciding factor for most projects. So, getting financial support for your Changing Places installation is an opportunity not to be missed!

3)     You’ll stay ahead of the competition

We know that, as well as providing essential amenities, service stations are businesses looking to make profit.

After this round of funding by DfT, 87 of England’s 118 service stations will have Changing Places facilities.

This is excellent news for all those who need them! But it also means that any service stations without a Changing Place are at a disadvantage. As the facilities become commonplace, families will give service stations without them a wide berth.

Purple Pound

The Purple Pound is a massive part of the spending in the UK.  Businesses lose approximately £2 Billion each month by ignoring the needs of disabled people.

Purple Pound
Infographic from wearepurple.org.uk

By making your service station more inclusive, you open doors for more people to enjoy their time and spend money at your facility.

Disadvantages of a Changing Place?

There are no disadvantages to Changing Places facilities themselves. However, service station operators sometimes express two key concerns…

Sizing

An accredited Changing Place must be 3x4m. Some service stations worry about where to house a facility that size. In these cases, modular Changing Places can be built outside of the building.

If space is an issue, modular Changing Places can be built outside of the building!

Modular Changing Places are pre-fabricated units that can be situated wherever needed to provide accessible toilet facilities for disabled users.

Modular Changing Place
Not every building or venue has the ability to fit a Changing Place into their existing structure – that’s why we offer the option for a modular Changing Places facility!

Built fully off-site, the facility can be installed in half a day onto a prepared base with services already in place, providing a quick and effective way of including a compliant Changing Place.

This is an ideal solution for service stations who already have abundant outdoor space for parking and eating areas.

Click here to design your own modular Changing Place facility!

Cost

If you were previously concerned about cost, now is the time to invest! As we discussed above, funding has been dedicated to the provision of Changing Places in service stations.

Here is a list of the service stations that secured funding in 2019:

Moto rugby M6 Warwickshire
Knutsford Services NB M6 Cheshire
Ferrybridge Services M62 West Yorkshire
Reading EB M4 Berkshire
Heston WB M4 Greater London
Hilton Park SB M6 Staffordshire
Strensham North M5 Worcestershire
Tibshelf South M1 Derbyshire
Tibshelf North M1 Derbyshire
Taunton Deane North M5 Somerset
Strensham South M5 Worcestershire
Sedgemoor M5 Somerset
Rownhams South M27 Hampshire
Northampton South M1 Northamptonshire
Northampton North M1 Northamptonshire
Maidstone M20 Kent
Durham A1(M) County Durham
Clacket Lane West M25 Surrey
Chester MSA M56 Cheshire
Gloucester NB M5 Gloucestershire
Tebay SB M6 Cumbria

You could be next!

Get in touch with any queries about funding or installation! We can help you visualize your Changing Places facility before it is even built.

Changing Places in Supermarkets
As of the 1st of January 2021, most new public buildings, including supermarkets, are now legally required to install Changing Places facilities.

Summary

As you can see, Changing Places in service stations are beneficial for all.  A Changing Place could be the one reason why a family choose to go or not go somewhere.

Being inclusive and investing in these facilities shows you care, boosts business, and opens up the road to everyone who wants to use it.

GET A QUOTE FOR YOUR CHANGING PLACE