Beamish Museum, Making History More Accessible

July 22, 2019

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North has made history more accessible to those who cannot use standard accessible toilets through the introduction of Changing Places facilities. 

Beamish is the North East’s most popular museum, bringing history to life, with the sights, sounds and tastes of the past at 1820s Pockerley, 1900s Town, 1900s Pit Village, 1940s Farm and 1950s welfare hall.

The Changing Places facilities are part of the new 1950s welfare hall that has opened at the museum – the first building in a 1950s Town. More than a quarter of a million people need Changing Places facilities to enjoy a day out. They offer more space than a normal accessible toilet, providing adequate room for the extra equipment required, as well as room for two carers to easily help the user. 

The facilities include an overhead room coverage hoist system, a height adjustable changing bench with a shower, non-slip flooring, a height adjustable basin and a privacy screen. In addition, the facilities feature a Closomat wash/dry WC which enables greater independence and dignity for users. 

Wendy Wilshere, Beamish’s Volunteer & Access Co-ordinator, said: “Over a quarter of a million people need Changing Places toilets so they can get out and about and enjoy the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted. These facilities will make a massive difference for visitors who need them and we are delighted and proud to offer them in our new 1950s welfare hall at Beamish."Beamish Museum has an Access Panel made up of museum staff and volunteers who are passionate about making the museum more accessible. The panel works with the museum to suggest and implement ways to ensure that people with a wide range of access needs can experience and enjoy the museum.

Beamish Access Panel member, Daniel Miller said: “The Changing Places toilet is really spacious, it’s amazing in terms of the equipment it has got in. I think that it is really going to help people.”

Daniel has been a member of the Access Panel at Beamish for a couple of years and has been involved in discussions around the new facilities. He added: “It’s nice to see that the Changing Places toilet has happened and that we’ve been able to implement it within this new building.”

Fellow Access Panel member Christine Johnson, added: “I think it is fabulous. I think it’s going to meet people’s needs really well. The space is amazing, you can get people everywhere – from the bed to the toilet and to the sink.”

More than a quarter of a million people require Changing Places facilities to enable them to get out and about and enjoy the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted. 

The Changing Places Consortium – co-chaired by Muscular Dystrophy UK – has campaigned for more than a decade for fully-accessible toilets for people with severe disabilities, who need extra equipment and space to use toilets safely and with dignity. More than 1,300 Changing Places facilities are now registered across the UK, but many areas still lack adequate provision.

Clare Lucas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “A lack of Changing Places is no laughing matter for the quarter of a million people who need them to use the toilet safely and with dignity. Without enough Changing Places toilets, many people cut trips short, don’t leave their homes, or even consider options as extreme as surgery.”

For more information about Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, visit www.beamish.org.uk.

 

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