Disabled Access Day on 16 March


A photograph of the working group of Disabled Access Day in Eastbourne with the local MP
A photograph of the working group of Disabled Access Day in Eastbourne with the local MP

On Saturday, 16 march 2019 Inclusive Eastbourne will be joining together with Eastbourne  Access Group and a number of other organisations to celebrate Disabled Access Day.  The aim is to celebrate good disabled access where it exists and to create opportunities for people to try something new.

Disabled Access Day was founded in 2015 by Paul Ralph and supported by Euan and the team at Euan’s Guide. As a power chair user, Paul knew his local bus services in Edinburgh were wheelchair accessible but he had never tried them out for himself so didn’t know if he could use the buses with his own chair. In the summer of 2014 he went to an Open day event at the Lothian bus depot where he was invited to try out the wheelchair access on a double decker bus.

This experience became an idea that there should be more opportunities like this out there for disabled people who see things they would like to try but aren’t quite sure how they’d get on. A series of focussed ‘try something new’ events and opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be so easy to arrange.

Inclusive Eastbourne has been working hard with other organisations to plan this year’s Disabled Access Day in Eastbourne.  Together they have organised a number of display zones at The Beacon Centre in Eastbourne Town Centre


Eastbourne Disabled Access Day

“You and somewhere new”

10:00am to 4:00pm

The Beacon Centre, Eastbourne

Explore our display zones

  • Keeping Active
  • Getting Around
  • Local Support
  • Health and Wellbeing
The front page of a flyer about Disabled Access Day 2019
The front page of a flyer about Disabled Access Day 2019
The back page of a flyer about Disabled Access Day 2019
The back page of a flyer about Disabled Access Day 2019

Inclusive Eastbourne Joins in on Purple Tuesday

13 November 2018 was Purple Tuesday,  the UK’s first accessible shopping day.

Nearly one in every five people in the UK is a disabled person protected under the Equality Act 2010, and over half of households have a connection to a disabled person.  Disabled people’s collective spending power – the Purple Pound – is worth £249 billion to the UK economy.  However, this potential is not being fully realised, and there are still real (and perceived) barriers that make it harder for disabled people to find work, spend money online and in store, and enjoy a drink or meal out.

The aim of Purple  Tuesday is to make customer-facing businesses more aware of these opportunities and challenges and inspire them to make changes to improve the disabled customer experience over the long term.

Inclusive Eastbourne joined together with Eastbourne Access group at their stand in the Arnedale Centre to celebrate Purple Tuesday. We asked disabled visitors to the shopping centre to tell us about their good or bad experiences of visiting local shops and if there was anything they thought could be done to improve access for disabled people.

Eastbourne Shopmobility, East Sussex Hearing Resource Centre and Eastbourne Blind Society also joined in the celebration and talked to shoppers with different impairments about their experiences, as well as inviting staff from local shops to join In the conversation about making shopping a more accessible experience.

Watch Out for Purple Tuesday

Purple Tuesday is a national campaign set by wearepurple.org.uk to encourage accessible shopping for people with disabilities.  It has been established “to

  • recognise the importance and needs of disabled consumers
  • raise awareness of the Purple Pound
  • promote inclusive shopping”

It is being supported by the Uk’s big brands including Argos, Asda, Marks and Spencers, Sainsbury’s.One of the main ideas behind PURPLE TUESDAY is that businesses are missing out on a lot of business if they don’t adapt their business to maximise its disabled-friendliness! This brings the idea of the “purple pound” – it is estimated that in the uk this aspect of business is worth £250 billion per year! With 20% of the population with some form of disability, this amount of business can enhance any company. If these figures are applied to Eastbourne, with our 20,000 population with a disability, it means that £76million is the potential spend. Purple found that 75% of disabled people in the UK have left a store because they found the staff unhelpful, or they did not feel very welcome. These figures don’t include our 5million tourists every year!It is known that lack of welcome is usually caused by uncertainly about how to meet someone’s needs, and fear of not acting appropriately rather than any form of prejudice or poor attitude of staff. Shops can be supported by resources such as accessibility audits, downloads about communication aspects of meeting customers’ needs, and disability-focused customer service training for staff.

An interesting aspect of the idea of Purple Tuesday is that its aims directly match those of Inclusive Eastbourne, which has been campaigning for improved shopping experiences for all people with different needs since 2010. We have carried out secret shopper’s surveys and developed a guide to improving accessibility. Now we can join in with the national mission that is Purple, to disseminate our experience more widely, and to use Purple’s newly available resources that are available to all. One important aspect of accessible shopping that Purple do not emphasise as much as Inclusive Eastbourne has been doing, is the availability of suitable customer toilets. We found evidence in our surveys that one of the most important aspects affecting disabled people’s shopping experience is whether the toilets are accessible and well kept. Businesses may not be fully aware that the way in which a business cares for their customer toilets reflects the ethos of the company more than just about any other feature! This is of course especially so in coffee shops, cafes and restaurants. Another issue is that we need MORE toilets available in the town, so that people need not worry that they might not find a suitable toilet when they need one, and therefore decide to stay home after all. We thus invite businesses to join our Inclusive Toilet Scheme:Inclusive Eastbourne’s COMMUNITY TOILET SCHEME invites businesses to join our group of businesses and other venues that allow people to use their customer toilets even if they are not a customer at that time. Indeed if people use such a toilet it brings more foot-fall into the shop and this may lead to future business from that person. We have small badges that can be placed strategically to show that the premise’s toilets are available to the public. Such businesses also feature in Eastbourne’s public toilet map. See further information about this scheme within this website here.   

  • Write to us on our contact page and join the campaign to maximise inclusive shopping experiences for all people in Eastbourne.
  • All shops in Eastbourne are invited to express their interest in the idea of PURPLE TUESDAY, and to register possible interest and for support, by registering with purple here   https://purpletuesday.org.uk
  • With Eastbourne Access Group, we will be at Arndale on Tuesday 13th for PURPLE TUESDAY where we will invite shoppers to give feedback about their local shopping experiences.

The Need for a Community Toilets Scheme (Part 3)

In our final article, Gaynor Sadlo looks at the public toilet provision in Eastbourne and presents some tried and tested solutions in other areas of the UK.

Public Toilet Provision in Eastbourne

There are about 73 public toilets in Eastbourne, according to the Access Guide. 17 of them are classified as disabled toilets – 5 at the seafront, 9 in town, 1 in Hamden Park and 1 in Langney, 1 at the harbour, 1 in the Arndale centre, 1 in Old Town. It seems that as a community we could improve on this situation?

Some common problems with public toilets in general

  • They are often in out-of-the-way places as if they need to be hidg historically underground, or in more inexpensive real estate areas because these are needed for more commercial activities.
  • Inaccessible, with many stairs, or too small, owith poor door-closing mechanisms.
  • They are often closed, and/or need money/to use.
  • Those for disabled people are often poorly designed, not following the recommended guidelines.
  • Not well maintained, or cleaned enough, or not maintained well externally. It has been shown that better outside appearance gives confidence.

Some tried and tested Solutions

Increased Public Awareness of the relationship between good toilet provision and health. eg November 19 2013 is World Toilet Day

Better positioning and design, numbers and sizes of signs, maps, nearby parking. Australian Toilet Map on-line has 100,000 visitors per month. Could develop smartphone apps for local toilets. The Great British Public Toilet Map, London and about 30 other councils provide data for this internet-based guide. “SAT LAV” at Westminster was launched in 2007 people can text for the nearest toilet, including community toilets, for 25 pence.

Community Toilet Schemes where businesses are paid by the local authority to allow the public to use their toilets. Libraries and council buildings also take part in these schemes.

Direct Access Toilets where toilets open directly to the street without a communal vestibule; they include their own hand-washing facilities inside, and each can accommodate various needs, such as unisex, disabled access.

Automatic Public Toilets are popular with local authorities as they may prevent anti-social behaviour. But many people are ‘scared’ to use them as they are so mechanistic.

Accessible toilets – for people with disabilities especially those using a wheelchair, those who need a carer, or others who require more space, such as families. More of these should be built in with regular toilets to reduce the pressure on disabled loos. Age-friendly cubicles include slightly wider, handrails on either side, easier locks, toilet paper dispenser for one hand, flush systems not set in, coat and bag hooks, shelf.

Changing Places Campaign – to increase he toilet provision for people with profound and multiple disabilities who need special facilities and the support from carers. Bigger rooms and adult-size changing plinths.

The RADAR key scheme has now a million keys in use in the UK – costs £5 but there are unofficial manufacturers too – with its own maps (cost £12) and an App.

Competitions for the best public toilets eg British Toilet Association Innovation Awards.


The perception of freedom to go to the toilet when away from home could be seen as a basic right and yet many people still do not enjoy that right in Eastbourne. Many improvements have been made to toilet provision for all, over the last twenty years and yet many enhancements are yet required before everyone might relax about being able to find a suitable toilet when going out. Local businesses and the economic health of Eastbourne might be enhanced if the public toilet provision became a focus until we can be sure it is as toilet friendly as we can make it, for all needs. Hotels could pave the way in re-evaluating their ordinary and disabled toilet provision, and invite the public in to use them. Toilets in hospitals and care homes also could be given more attention (eg in mental health care facilities there are usually no toilets for wheelchair users).

Dare we hope that Eastbourne could place such emphasis on a project to enhance our public accessible toilet provision that we become known as an outstanding town in that regard, reflecting respect and the ethos of welcoming all people, revealing an understanding of their possible toilet needs. Eastbourne, from civic and business perspectives could become known for its priority for providing very attractive toilets for all, enhancing its prosperity. Public toilets can increase opportunities for business growth for retailers and other enterprises (Dept for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform 2008). Japan has paved the way in becoming known for its priority of providing enjoyable toilet experiences, including music, warmth, and soft seats!

As an aside, the future of the WC may however be time-limited, and technology should be applied more to this domain. Could local businesses become interested in this possibility? Hands-free toilets invented for the luxury market, which include self-cleaning Clos-o-mats, could be placed in more wheelchair-accessible toilets to avoid the need for carers to help with cleaning. That alone may enhance people’s experience of visiting the town. We can learn from Space toilet management, for those who are incontinent. Meanwhile the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored a convention in 2012 in the race to develop a water-free toilet system that can improve sanitation for the majority of the world’s citizens, who currently do not have access to any toilet. Soon then, as water management becomes ever more expensive, the sustainable micro-wave toilet, where one product of elimination provides the energy for the micro-wave management of the next, may soon be with us!

This article is taken from a paper written by Gaynor Sadlo, one of Inclusive Eastbourne’s Directors, as part of Inclusive Eastbourne’s Community Toilets project.  You can read the entire paper by downloading a copy in PDF here.

The Need for a Community Toilets Scheme (Part 2)

In our second article about the need for a community toilets scheme in Eastbourne, Gaynor Sadlo looks at how using the toilet relates to our health, as well as some of the health / disability issues related to public toilets.

An everyday activity directly related to health

Human beings are a unique species where, as part of our culture, during infancy we are taught to control the timing of the basic biological needs of urination and defecation, the bladder and bowel systems having evolved to be purposefully activated at times when it is socially and occupationally convenient. In hunter-gatherer times, regular elimination was carried out in and absorbed by the natural environment, but urbanisation, population growth and disease control requires management of human waste on an industrial scale. Volume-related physical limits mean that toileting is the only activity of daily living where urgency of access often becomes a requirement. The bladder needs to be emptied every 2-3 hours, that is 6-7 times a day, the bowel usually once or twice a day (Bladder and Bowel Foundation 2013). Our bipedal stance and colonic biology make squatting the normal and most effective position for defecation in both genders (Rao & Isbit 2009). Squatting–type toilets have been the norm in Asian countries, but little notice is taken of this recommended posture in the West. In most western societies where the seated water closet is the norm, the task also involves the taken-for-granted skills of manipulation of clothes using both power and fine hand grips, bipedal balance, sitting and standing, perfect timing of sphincter release, cleaning which involves considerable hand strength and reach, flushing the toilet and hand-washing which itself has become a defined activity nowadays based on the science of infection control. The form and meaning of toileting is also influenced by cultural and religious traditions, which is now much more of an issue to be taken into account in our multi-cultural society. For example, the use of paper for cleaning may not be acceptable.

Females take about 1.5 minutes to urinate, men about half that time (cultural and biological reasons – anatomy, dress, menstruation, continence conditions, mobility – and the majority of older people are female). Within the tradition of gender-separated public toilets, in the UK we need twice as many female toilets (British Standard 6465 Pt 4, 2010). However, the balance is usually 50:50 or more usually 70:30 in favour of men, as urinals are smaller than cubicles (Dept of Communities and Local Govt, 2008).

The water closet toilet has developed via historical roots and customs, the earliest flushing toilets being observed at Neolithic sites, 3000 BC. They were more widely developed during Victorian times, although public toilets were then built underground, to hide them. The rapid growth of cities around the world in the 21st century provokes the need for new solutions related to sanitation and disease control, and to sustainability of the environment. Sanitation is a challenge for all governments and local councils, but Eastbourne’s situation can be put into perspective when it is realised that around 3.5 billion people worldwide have no access to a private toilet at all (http://worldtoilet.org/wto/). Historically and socially toileting has also become a very private affair, even between intimates, reflected in the design of most toilets as a tiny room for one. Different provisions are preferred by cultural groups with hygiene rituals, such as the need for a source of water for cleaning.

There is now no statutory requirement for local authorities to provide public toilets (Knight & Bichard 2011) but there are socio-economic advantages to quality public toilet provision (BTA 2007). There is evidence that suitable public toilets promote pride of place, attract visitors, increase social equity and foster inclusion (http://www.britloos.co.uk/ ). Access to suitable toilets away from home affects citizens’ health (need to eliminate waste, from health need to drink 2 litres of water daily), dignity, mood, sense of being valued, quality of life, and pleasure in going out. We need toilets in all public places, buildings, shopping centres, stations, transport vehicles, hotels, and recreation areas. More public toilets can increase the health and well-being of the community at large, through encouragement of getting out and about, and relate to sustainability, including more use of public transport (when there are good toilets at junctions). Toilets need to be clean, hygienic, safe, inclusive, private, with good handles and locks, more homely, and they need bins for incontinence pads and menstrual care. As the average age of population increases there will be many more people of both genders who might experience incontinence, which can be well managed through pads but waste facilities may not be present in all toilets, especially those for males.

The design and care of toilets reflect the policies and values of those that own them – including positioning, numbers, cleaning and servicing. Keeping toilets clean is one of the biggest and ever-present challenges, considered an unpleasant task we all seem to prefer to avoid, and it may be viewed as a menial task for low-paid workers. On another matter, families benefit from more unisex facilities, including lower toilets and baby-changing plinths. Via reviews, the newest toilet designs at Gatwick are causing considerable celebration as the best toilets people have ever experienced, and they include 2 Changing Places (see below) and clos-o-mats. However, there are still complaints about the lack of numbers of toilets in a place where many people have to queue too long, to go before boarding their plane. This is an example of how a reputation and experience of a place is very affected by its toilet provision.

Lack of public toilets contributes to unsanitary, dirty, odorous fouled streets and buildings while increasing the risk of infection, attracting vandalism, anti-social behaviour, social disorder and more costs, and can contribute to a cycle of decline in urban areas.

Health/disability issues related to public toilets

It is known that 14 million people in the UK have bladder problems (www.bladderandbowelfoundation.org/‎), which translates to 1 in 5 of us, or about 20,000 Eastbourne residents who might need to use public facilities more frequently and quickly. Incontinence can be exacerbated by medication taken for common health conditions (eg ‘water tablets’ for heart failure), or dementia. “Loss of continence is the greatest fear of many older people, limiting the time spent away from home and can be a major cause of never leaving home. Thus the distressing effects of incontinence causes social isolation and embarrassment for millions of people. It often becomes the primary reason for people to move into managed care environments” (Knight & Bichard 2011 p 5).

I in 10 of us have bowel problems – or around 10,000 people in Eastbourne. These figures do not take account of the many thousands of visitors to the town each year. Help the Aged (2007) found that nationally, 80% of older people find it difficult to find public toilets, 75% found them not open, and 52% of people admitted that lack of public toilets prevented them going out as often as they would like to. The World Health Organisation has cited toilet provision as a major factor in their Age Friendly Cities guides (WHO 2006). These matters are more common, but not confined to the ageing body – young ones, such as those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), need to go to the toilet much more frequently. Lack of toilet provision is seen as a serious barrier to wider participation for many people who do not have obvious disabilities. Higher food intake and alcohol misuse, common problems in society, also drive more frequent need for toilet visits. Obesity leads to several problems in managing the toilet, such as the restricted cubicle space, clothes management and reaching to clean.

Physical disability, in particular, compounds access to toilets away from home and can be a major source of becoming housebound, inhibiting or preventing many opportunities like just getting out of the house, shopping, visiting friends, eating out, going to the pub, entertainment, and other leisure pursuits (DWP 2008; Clark & Rugg 2005). “I felt like a prisoner in my own home”. This also negatively affects the economic health of urban areas. Considering national rates, 6,500 people in Eastbourne can be expected to have a physical disability. The fact that these numbers are not very visible in the town itself is the case in point – a sign that many people with these problems may rather stay at home. The provision of a variety of toilets such as some with higher seats and rails for ambulant disabled people might encourage more outings to town, and more prosperity for all businesses.

Wheelchair-bound people might venture out much less frequently because of the additional energy needed to get around generally, such as negotiating curbs, in spite of recent enhancements in the town generally. “..we go to this ice-cream place, he loves it there, but the toilets are downstairs, its so narrow there…I cannot get him there”. Many physically disabled people need a carer present to assist, which led to the development of the first unisex toilets in the UK in the 1980’s. However, disabled peoples’ needs can be poorly understood by many while the regulatory controls which oversee disabled people’s access has not been historically strong – which was seen as a form of oppression and estrangement (Imrie & Kumar 1998), and although the situation is improving somewhat, still there is the situation of ‘ablist power’, according to a study of (In)accessible public toilets (Kitchen & Law 2001). Space is seen as socially produced, and in ways that show that disabled people are excluded from full participation in society. It has needed successive legislation to bring any kind of social justice regarding the removal of environmental barriers. “The built environment tends to perpetuate the conception that disabled people are different and ‘unable’ when their possibilities for access and mobility are restricted” (Imrie & Kumar 1998 p361). Any building with a step – and any place without an accessible toilet – acts as an effective barrier against wheelchair users – it is a form of design apartheid.

Wheelchair accessible toilet design information is now widely available and there should be more of them in all towns and buildings, although recommendations regarding design are frequently not adhered to. The need to keep them locked due to social misuse (such as sexual activity, drug use or for homeless provision) has lead to the national key scheme being a necessity. “I totally refuse to pay for a key because nobody else has to pay for a key to go to the toilet…it makes me feel bad and less than second class”. “you can understand why people would feel reticent about asking for help to go to the toilet…I don’t enjoy asking someone to help me go to the loo when it’s a normal bodily function which everyone has the right to use when and how they want”. People need to do much more planning ahead prior to visiting public places.

However, even wheelchair friendly loos do not meet all needs. Recent research carried out in Germany, where like in the UK disabled toilet provision is quite good, nevertherless highlighted the plight of mothers of disabled children (Hoppstädter et al). During interviews mothers described the terrible burden and enormous effort required of finding places to change their child – ordinary disabled toilets provide no provision for them. “Wherever you go, you never find a place to change your child if they are any bigger than a toddler…in the end one usually has to struggle trying to do it in the car…”. Plinths that do exist in baby changing toilets are suitable for only the smallest children. Many disabled children can never become continent, and therefore larger plinths are vital. We thus we can celebrate the fact that we have two Changing Places toilets in Eastbourne – in the Arndale Centre and by the Bandstand. ( www.changing-places.org/the_campaign)

There is another very serious issue related to our attitudes to helping people go to the toilet when they are sick. Increased hydration is of course linked to more frequent need to get to a toilet, and so it can easily be seen that it is tempting for staff to limit the amounts drunk, in institutions with limited staff numbers. This approach can easily lead to deaths by dehydration. There is a need to educate ourselves about our basic hydration needs, and the attitudes of staff towards patients’ toilet needs, requires radical improvement nationally. In 2013 it was reported (Sky news October 2013) that 100,000 people each year are suffering from Acute Kidney Injury in NHS hospitals. This the term used for the effect on the kidneys of dehydration. It is estimated that this kills more people per year than cancer, and costs the NHS up to £620 million per year. It seems that innate staff attitudes to helping people to the toilet, seen as an unpleasant duty, as well as lack of focus on drinking patterns may be related to this problem. There was a scandal in Eastbourne a few years ago where it was exposed that people in care homes may be expected to use incontinence products before this is personally a need, due to the lack of provision of toilets and lack of staff to attend to residents frequent toilet needs, or a desire to prevent incontinence accidents, especially at night. Thus, there needs to be more awareness of the need to drink more water everyday for health, but this must be tuned with provision to enable more toilet visits.

This article is taken from a paper written by Gaynor Sadlo, one of Inclusive Eastbourne’s Directors, as part of its Community Toilets Scheme project.  You can read the entire paper by downloading a copy in PDF here.

Our next article will focus on the public toilet provision in Eastbourne and present some tried and tested solutions to the problem.

The Need for a Community Toilets Scheme (Part 1)

As part of the Eastbourne Community Toilets Scheme project, Gaynor Sadlo, one of the company’s Directors, wrote a paper on the need for a community toilets scheme in the town. This is the first in a series of three articles where we’ll share with you the different topics covered in her paper, beginning with a summary of some of the national, international and local research that confirms the importance of accessibility to public toilets. You can read the entire paper by downloading a copy in PDF here.

The importance of access to toilets when away from home: some research evidence

Good provision enhances quality of life for all. When it comes to using toilets away from home, the negative consequences of lack of a toilet when needed are often experienced by people who have special needs. This can profoundly affect citizens’ desire to leave their home, leading to social isolation and reduced participation (Case-Smith 2004). Unfortunately, socio-cultural factors often prevent a wider dialogue about toilet needs and provision because it remains quite a taboo subject, but the reduced participation in society by those who have to worry about finding an accessible toilet is an unacceptable social injustice.

Because many activities that actually support health and wellbeing – such as going to the theatre – take place outside people’s homes, insufficient publicly accessible toilets can be seen as costly in terms of reduced long-term physical health and mental well-being. Publicly accessible toilets is the preferred term to use to refer to all toilets that the public can access without having to buy anything (Knight & Bichard 2011).

With understanding of the link between health and toilet access comes a responsibility for each community to scrutinise their provision of publicly accessible toilets. One-hundred and fifty years after the first public toilet in the UK, “the provision of state-of-the-art public toilets which was once seen as a matter of civic pride has instead been the focus of increasing public concern” (Baroness Andrews, Dept for Communities and Local Govt, 2008). There is a new wave of identifying innovative methods to address the current shortage of good toilets, especially by getting more organisations to get involved and willing to share their existing conveniences with the community.

Inclusive Eastbourne takes this as a very important issue which can enhance life for all in Eastbourne and which can support businesses and other organisations to maximise their opportunities through increased visitors and community involvement.