New changing room provides a lift for disabled Sunderland Airshow visitors

(from left Coun Mel Speding opens one of the new specialist rest rooms on Seaburn promenade  with  Jodie Williams, Gavin Barr, Sharon Bell and Phil Hughes from Sunderland People First and the Disability Independence Advisory Group.
(from left Coun Mel Speding opens one of the new specialist rest rooms on Seaburn promenade with Jodie Williams, Gavin Barr, Sharon Bell and Phil Hughes from Sunderland People First and the Disability Independence Advisory Group.

Life will be easier for disabled visitors to Sunderland Airshow this weekend with the opening of a new specialist changing room on the city seafront.

Two specialist rest rooms have been created on Roker and Seaburn promenades, grant funded by Sunderland City Council as part of the £10million seafront regeneration programme.

The first unit, designed for people with complex needs to use with their carers, opened at Seaburn on the tenth anniversary of the national ‘Changing Places’ campaign.

Provided by Sunderland City Council as part of the re-development of former Seaburn seating shelter which also included the creation of the new Fat Buddha restaurant, it was opened by Sunderland City Council Cabinet Secretary Coun Mel Speding, who was joined by members of disability advocacy community interest company - Sunderland People First, the Disability Independence Advisory Group and people who use services in the city.

"We are committed to providing access to all our public buildings and open spaces for everyone, whatever their personal mobility or care demands might be," said Coun Speding.

"These new facilities will provide people with complex disabilities and their carers with the opportunities we all take for granted and enjoy a visit to the seafront.

"Providing equal access was integral to our seafront regeneration plans, and I hope working with Changing Places and our health and social care partners in the community we are achieving that.”

Each specialist toilet and changing facility includes a height adjustable changing bench, ceiling hoist, peninsular toilet with space on both sides for carers, wheelchair access and privacy screens.

‘Changing Places’ was established in 2006 with the help of the Department of Health and includes charities, Centre for Accessible Environments and local authorities who want to add to the 840 Changing Places toilets in place nationally at venues such as the O2 Arena, Heathrow and Gatwick airports, the Eden Project and Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens.

Sunderland People First director Sharon Bell said: "Changing places are so important to people with complex needs because it means that people can enjoy their community like everyone else.
"We are so pleased that the number of changing places is growing across Sunderland.

"Changing Places enables carers to enjoy significant meaningful leisure time with their loved ones in the local community, we are delighted about the developments in Sunderland to support that."