Mobile changing place is on the move

A mobile changing place is to be made available for events across North Yorkshire thanks to contributions from the county council’s locality budget.

Taking a look at the mobile changing place are (from left) county councillors Callum Walsh, David Chance, Executive Member for Stronger Communities, Bob Baker and Gareth Dadd, Member for Thirsk and Deputy Leader, with Andrew Newton, chairman of Special Olympics North Yorkshire

Changing places are facilities designed for people with severe or multiple disabilities. The mobile changing place has been bought thanks to £4,250 from the locality budget of Weaponness and Ramshill councillor Callam Walsh and £750 from that of Sowerby member Bob Baker.

Locality budgets allow the 72 county councillors to respond to local needs and requests by recommending funding of up to £5,000 to support projects or activities that benefit the communities they represent. Additional funding came from a public appeal and the Stronger Communities Inspire Fund.

The mobile changing place will be available county-wide, stored in Thirsk and available for any group or club to use. It has been purchased by Special Olympics North Yorkshire whose chairman, Andrew Newton, said: “Special Olympics GB is the largest provider of year-round, all ability, sports programmes in Great Britain and supports over 10,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities on a continued basis.

“Within North Yorkshire we work with and help to establish clubs that cater for those with an intellectual disability, also associated physical disability. We have accredited clubs in Scarborough, Tadcaster, Harrogate and Northallerton with others coming on board. These cover a range of sports, including swimming, boccia and tennis. As Special Olympics North Yorkshire we also provide sporting activities at the various county and local shows such as the Great Yorkshire Show and Dalby Forest activities.

“While North Yorkshire County Council does provide some changing place facilities in the main towns, these are limited. Often village halls and community centres would like to host a small event but due to a lack of changing facilities it restricts participants. Also temporary events such as fetes don't have the access to this type of facility and now we can help.

“The funds from the locality budget have been key to the provision of this facility and we have already been asked to provide it at the Military Children's Day on 14 June at Catterick Garrison. This means The Dales School, who are a Special Olympics Motor Activity Training Program Club, can attend the event as previously they could not due to no changing facilities.”

The facility includes a pop-up gazebo changing table, a gantry hoist, a wash station, a sink unit and waste disposal, a hard floor for wheelchair access and a trailer. It can be set up indoors if there is sufficient room.

Mr Newton said: “We aim to have a small daily charge for the facility to cover ancillaries, travel and repairs. We hope that this will show the massive need for these facilities within the county and persuade attractions and venues to provide these as a fixed facility.”

Councillor Walsh said: “I am very pleased that I’ve been able to use my locality budget for such an important facility. It will improve the accessibility of events for more people and will make a great difference to those attending events, providing the dignity and quality of facilities that anyone would expect to use. I look forward to seeing these changing facilities in use and enabling many more people participate in a wide range of events.”

Councillor Baker said: “I was delighted to support this project through my locality budget to help all to participate in sport.”

This story was published 17 May 2018