Staff at Manx Museum promote their award-winning Changing Places toilet facility

Getting funding for a Changing Places toilet

Katie King, 15.11.2019
Manx Museum shares its experiences
In June 2018, Manx National Heritage opened the Isle of Man’s first publicly accessible Changing Places toilet at the Manx Museum. The following year it was voted the best such facility in the British Isles.

We began discussing installing a Changing Places facility at the museum when a member of our team spoke about the difficulties she faced when enjoying a day out on the Isle of Man with her daughter who has complex needs.

She described the Changing Places facilities she had visited elsewhere in the UK and we were shocked to discover there was no such facility on the island.

We were all determined to install a toilet at the Manx Museum. We chose this building as it is in the heart of Douglas, is open all year round and is free to visit.

Our team identified a gallery-based meeting room that could be transformed into a facility with enough space to have an adjacent quiet room as well.  

We initially thought it might be a tough sell to get funding for a toilet – but our colleague’s description of life on the Isle of Man without such a facility made it very easy.  

We were awarded £25,000 by the Manx Lottery Trust and a further £25,000 was covered by our charitable funds. The cost was relatively high for our project as we had to completely transform the room into a toilet facility, but if we had simply been improving an existing toilet space then this would be simpler and cheaper.  

The facility was designed with the input of the Changing Places Consortium, working with a local architect.

We didn’t want the space to feel medical or clinical, so we incorporated artwork from our collections into the design. All equipment was supplied and installed (and is maintained) by Astor-Bannerman, a provider of specialist care and bathing equipment, who were extremely helpful throughout the process.  

Annually we estimate that more than 300 residents and up to 1,000 visitors could directly benefit from the new facility. The feedback from families with complex needs has been overwhelming and we were all thrilled when we were awarded the People’s Choice Award for the Best Changing Place Toilet in the British Isles.

The judges said we should be a role model for other museums. We have been surprised to learn how few museums have Changing Places facilities, and after that we became somewhat of a social media sensation, because many inclusion advocates applauded us for being brave and cited us as an example of best practice.

Our advice is to go for it. You could change someone’s life and improve your local area for countless families. Securing funding for a new Changing Place facility might be easier than you think.

Katie King is the community learning officer and inclusion champion for Manx National Heritage

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