Selsey mum campaigns to help disabled son

Claire Panton with her disabled son Finley.''Picture by Louise Adams C140089-3 Chi Disabled Toilets
Claire Panton with her disabled son Finley.''Picture by Louise Adams C140089-3 Chi Disabled Toilets

A MOTHER is campaigning for better toilet facilities in Chichester to help her care for her disabled son.

Claire Panton, from Selsey, said she was at the end of her tether with having to change four-year-old Finley by laying him on toilet floors.

Claire said there was nowhere suitable around Chichester to change her son.

“Ultimately we are forced to change Finley on the floor of disabled toilets,” she said.

“It’s unhygienic and its not very pleasant.

“I don’t see why I should have to put him on the floor anyway.”

Claire said the baby change facilities were not suitable for Finley, who has cerebral palsy.

“He’s nearly five – and soon he’s going to be too big.

“We are forced to change him in the boot of our car instead, which gets a bit cold – and its not very private.”

After struggling to fit a wheelchair in the toilets there is little room for manoeuvre.

“I’m quite young and it does nothing for your back,” said Claire.

“My mum looks after Finley too and I don’t want her hurting herself.”

Claire is supporting a national campaign called Changing Places – which is fighting for people with disabilities and their carers who cannot use standard facilities.

Changing Place toilets have enough space and the right equipment, including a height-adjustable changing bench and a hoist – but the only one near Chichester is in Staunton, Hampshire.

“We wouldn’t go there unless we were going to the country park,” said Claire.

Changing Places campaigners said it was ‘dangerous, unhygienic and undignified’ for people to be changed on toilet floors.

“It would be so nice to know there is somewhere to go in Chichester,” she said.

“There are two special needs schools in Chichester.

“It’s ridiculous that there isn’t at least one place.

“We even struggle at the children’s outpatients at St Richard’s Hospital.”

She said the proposed development at Barnfield Drive would be ‘an ideal’ place for the changing areas.

The suitability of a Changing Places facility was raised with Chichester district councillor John Connor at a council meeting in December.

He said ‘very few’ were provided in standard public conveniences and were generally provided in a ‘managed environment’.

“I think the council may find it difficult to identify and provide sufficient space within the existing public toilets. Perhaps we should take a wider view of provision and try to identify a suitable location,” said Cllr Connor.

Visit the Changing Places campaign website here