A shopping centre has earned national recognition for the quality of its facilities for disabled people.
The disabled toilets at Eagles Meadow in Wrexham have been accredited by learning disability organisation Mencap and included on a map of its approved locations.
People with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis, who simply can’t use standard accessible toilets, need facilities they can use to enable them to get out and about.
To use the toilet in safety and comfort, some disabled people need to be able to access a changing places toilet which has more space and the right equipment, including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist.
It's been a godsend for retired builder Peter Billington and his wife, Barbara, from Bangor on Dee, whose daughter Ashley, 29, suffers from cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user.
According to Peter, having a changing places facility at Eagles Meadow means Ashley’s carers, who take her out once a week, can spend time out without having to panic about getting home so she can go to the loo.
He said: “There are very few places that have suitable toilets for disabled people like Ashley.
“Ashley has carers who come and take her out once a week giving Barbara and myself some time to ourselves.
“But they aren’t allowed to lift Ashley without a hoist. That means they are always restricted to how long they can spend away from home.
“Ashley has been toilet trained since she was a very small child, but she needs help to go to the toilet as she can’t stand or change herself.”
Sophie Lay, 18, of Johnstown, also has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.
Her mum Sharron said: “It’s an amazing facility and a good size. It means Sophie can come out with her carers without having to panic about how long they are out. It means she has some small level of independence and freedom.
“I go out for days out with Sophie and I’m constantly thinking about where I can find a toilet with a hoist and, importantly, a changing bench that an adult can use. There are so few around which is unfair.”
Carol Gardner, the charity manager of Wrexham-based Dynamic which provides activities for young people with special needs including a range of physical disabilities, says the Eagles Meadow Changing Places toilet is a vital resource to the charity.
She said: “It’s really important. It means when we bring young people to Eagles Meadow whether to go bowling, to a restaurant or just too simply shop we have somewhere where we our young people can go to the toilet safely and with some dignity.
“Having a hoist and a changing bench is really important when you are caring for young people and adults but there are so few places that provide adequate facilities.
“We have used the Eagles Meadow facility on numerous occasions when we have brought young people to the shopping centre and it really is a vital resource.”