CHANGING PLACES – TRANSFORMING LIVES
CHANGING PLACES – TRANSFORMING LIVES
Over a 1/4 million people need Changing Places toilets to enable them to get out and about and enjoy the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted, but there are only 1,000 in existence. The Equality Act 2010 cites, ‘a duty to make reasonable adjustments’ to any building used by the public to ensure that everyone can benefit from its services.
This project involved providing a Changing Places toilet facility for Jubilee Community Centre (JCC) in East Grinstead. For Jubilee Community Church in East Grinstead, inclusivity isn’t optional, it’s vital. Running their building as a community centre as well as a place of worship, it is there to provide a modern and flexible resource for the local and business communities. With an estimated 3,000 people welcomed through the doors each week, accessibility is essential.
Our professional connection with JCC began in 2014 when we were consulted about forming a larger café space from two separate rooms. It was a huge undertaking that involved digging up the toughest imaginable industrial concrete floor, installing steel columns and a huge steel. The finished result is a highly improved more open-plan feeling café space creating better functionality for JCC.
Before our professional connection with JCC, there was only one Changing Places toilet in the whole of the High Weald area. JCC was an ideal location to add another, being central to the High Weald area, and easily accessible. The giant converted warehouse centre had two disabled toilets, but neither met all needs and weren’t fit for purpose for some members of the community. A chance conversation between JCC trustee Cris Payne and a teenage wheelchair user’s mum identified the impact of not having a Changing Places toilet. Without one, she would have to leave an event early and travel home just to use the toilet. A limitation we felt compelled to help overcome.
Every single project we undertake aims to make a difference to people’s lives, providing beautiful and functional living spaces. But some projects are particularly close to our hearts – the ones that create accessible environments for people with disabilities.
With Cris raising funds, we began work to help JCC become truly inclusive to the community. We prepared drawings, dealt with trial pits and investigations, helped appoint a structural engineer, liaised with Building Control, tendered the work to several local builders, prepared the Contract Documents, made site visits and administered the contract.
Within 24 hours of opening, the Changing Place was used three times. Now, wheelchair users and those with disabilities can consider attending existing activities at JCC or even start their own activities. At the opening ceremony, a local dad shared how he’d just booked his son’s birthday party at JCC, confident now that he and his friends had the Changing Places facility.
Following her experience of working with Turner and Hoskins and local contractors, JCC trustee Cris Payne says, ‘Thank you to the dream team – I would have no hesitation recommending you to anyone’.
Having direct experience of such a life-changing, transformative project has been not only truly worth-while, it has been eye-opening to the opportunities for architects to be involved in something so incredibly important. A recent survey conducted by The Inclusive Home, despite a disappointing response, identified that 54% of the architects hadn’t installed a Changing Places toilet. We are thrilled that this project has increased the statistic of available facilities for the ¼ million people for whom this really is life-changing.