Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - 17:27

The Eden Project has opened a new facility for people with profound and multiple disabilities.

The Changing Places accessible toilet in the Visitor Centre includes a height adjustable changing bench, a hoist system, shower and space for a disabled person and up to two carers.

The 13-square metre amenity has been funded by the Aiming High programme through Cornwall Council. It is open to Eden visitors, staff and the general public.

Vicki Allan, Cornwall Council’s disabled children short break development manager, and Eden’s foundation director Tony Kendle opened the facility yesterday (Monday, May 23).

Vicki Allan said: “Aiming High for Disabled Children has been working with Eden and a range of different providers for the last three years to promote accessibility and inclusion for disabled children and young people.

“This new Changing Places toilet is a great example of how we’ve worked together to provide accessible opportunities for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities.”

Tony Kendle said: “It has always been our ambition to make Eden as accessible as we can to anyone who wants to come.

“Thanks to the work of our very dedicated staff who really believe in this issue and partnerships with Cornwall Council through the Aiming High programme, the Sensory Trust and the Changing Places campaign, we’re really pleased that we’ve been able to make this important step forward.”

Families with children with accessibility needs were present on the day.

Rachel George, who attended with her four-year-old son Adam, said: “A facility like this makes the difference between visiting somewhere for a couple of hours and being able to stay for a day. It’s fabulous.”

Representatives of the Sensory Trust and Disability Cornwall were also at the launch.

Jane Stoneham, director of the Sensory Trust, said: "We're delighted to have worked with Eden on the Changing Places project - we have a design that is joyful as well as functional and shows that great design and accessible buildings do go hand in hand.

“A great day at Eden is now open to people who face the toughest barriers to getting out and about. We hope this will inspire others to follow suit."

Beverley Dawkins OBE, Mencap’s national officer for profound and multiple learning disabilities and co-chair of the Changing Places consortium said: “The impact of a Changing Places toilet on the quality of life for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities is significant.

“Families who have loved ones with complex care needs often find it difficult to visit popular tourism destinations as there aren’t any appropriate facilities for them to spend the whole day out.

“The addition of a new Changing Places toilet at the Eden Project will enable people with profound and multiple learning disabilities to enjoy a full day at this great attraction, exploring all it has to offer rather than limiting their visit to a couple of hours or not being able to go there at all.”

Changing Places toilets are different to standard disabled toilets with extra features and more space to meet the needs of people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and their carers.

In addition to this the toilets also cater for people with serious impairments such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis or an acquired brain injury.

In creating the facility Eden has worked closely with Cornwall Council, the Changing Places Consortium made up of organisations supporting access for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, and the Sensory Trust, which promotes equality of access for all people.