Re my campaign
here's some information about my campaign..
I'd like to tell you a little bit about me and a campaign which I launched online just 4 weeks ago. My story has already been reported in the Lancashire Telegraph and accrington observer and I did a live interview with Graham Liver on BBC Radio Lancashire who featured my campaign as one if their leading stories throughout the day. As did 2BR radio last week! I was also filmed at home by Dave Guest, chief reporter for BBC North West and they ran a news story about me on each of their news bulletins.
My campaign has also attracted considerable national interest this week, and I have been contacted by changing-places.org, Mobiloo and other disability service providers about my petition. In the first week of my campaign, I attracted just over 2000 signatures just through my own efforts on social media. By the end of yesterday I had almost 5000 signatures and today I have been overwhelmed by how much my story has spread and I now have over 43,000 supporters on line! This is obviously a huge story and the staff at change.org believe that my campaign could be a great success.
I would love to talk to you more about it and hopefully encourage you to feature my campaign on your news items or some other way on your programme. I am very happy to be interviewed or filmed!
Let me tell you about how my campaign started...
Four weeks ago, I went to Swansea with my mum and stepdad to visit his family. It was a longer drive than usual because of the holiday traffic so we needed to stop on the way for a break. We called at 3 motorway service stations but none of them had an accessible changing room where I could get changed. By the time we arrived in Swansea I was angry because, as a wheelchair user, I was unable to find suitable facilities for my needs. I think that this is very unfair, and that's why I decided to start my campaign.
I am 21. I have cerebral palsy and I use my electric wheelchair to get everywhere. I cannot use a normal toilet, so when I need to get changed my carers or assistants need to hoist me onto a bed. When there are no suitable facilities, my parents have had to lift me on to the floor in disabled toilet or in a baby changing room. The floors are usually wet and dirty, so we now carry a roll mat and anti-bacterial wipes with us whenever we go out. This has been the case for me all my life and I have had to get used to it. Although it is not pleasant to talk about, I think it is important that the voices of disabled people are heard. There are over a quarter of a million disabled people in the the uk, but unless you are disabled or care for someone with disability then you often don't appreciate how difficult it is for us.
My name is Zack and I’m 21 years old. That's me in the picture above. I have cerebral palsy which affects the use of all four limbs and speech. I am tube fed and use a touch screen speech machine to communicate and an electric wheelchair to get around.
I am campaigning to get accessible changing room facilities installed at all UK motorway service stations. There are many disabled children and adults who, like me are wheelchair users and require suitable spaces and the assistance of a carer when needing toilet and changing facilities during long journeys.
At the moment there are very few appropriate facilities on UK motorway routes. I cannot use a regular toilet so when I need to be changed my parents or carers need to hoist me on to a bed. A changing places room needs to be large enough, have a height adjustable bed and a hoist which can be used to lift me out of my wheelchair. There are many times when my parents have to resort to changing me on a cramped and often dirty toilet floor or in a baby changing room. I’m not the only one in this situation, there are a quarter of a million disabled people across the country, many of who, are in need of these services too.
Over 1000 facilities are now in operation at tourist attractions, restaurants, museums and leisure centres in the UK, but hardly any exist on major travel routes and so far, all of them are in the Midlands or south of England. Moto are the largest operator of service stations in the U.K. with 60 stations, but so far they only have 5 with changing place rooms with a further 2 planned in 2018. Welcome Break also have 6 such changing rooms. The operators at Moto claim to be "committed to the cause of providing accessible changing rooms", but in reality they say that the cost of installing such facilities is prohibitive and compared to the popularity of coffee shop and food outlets, it is not justified for the number of people who would use them.
It would mean a lot of to me if they led the way by introducing accessible changing places in all their service stations and readdressed the balance in providing accessible facilities for all travellers regardless of their needs and abilities. Please support my campaign to improve these basic needs for all disabled travellers.
Zack Kerr, Accrington