The Hepworth Wakefield was initially contacted by Changing Places campaigner Alison Beevers in 2016, who visited with her family to talk to us about Changing Places, and the difference it can make for families like hers. We explored installing a Changing Places toilet, but at the time were unable to find the funds to do the work. In 2017, Alison got back in touch, and the Senior Management Team agreed to make a case to our Board to invest in a facility using the gallery’s reserves. The Board approved the investment in Autumn 2017.
We worked with Astor Bannerman to identify the best space for the facility, deciding to convert an existing female toilet in the Clore Learning Studios, and turn the neighbouring male toilet into a unisex facility. We undertook consultation with users, particularly schools, to ensure that this would be suitable for them, and they were incredibly positive about the changes. Astor Bannerman provided the changing bed, hoist and privacy screen, and we worked with a local contractor to make the changes. We were delighted to open the facility on 10 May 2018, which coincided with Changing Places Looathon on 11 May.
The Changing Places toilet is secured with a RADAR key. We explored several options, including open access, however we decided that for our venue, a RADAR key would be the best choice. Users that we consulted with advised that they tend to have their own key that they can use, and we felt that this would help provide a sense of independence. We also have a RADAR key available from our Welcome Desk, should any users not have their own.
The housekeeping team carry out regular checks of the Changing Places toilet alongside all our toilets to ensure that there are sufficient supplies, and that all the equipment is working correctly. The Visitor Experience team check that the hoist is back in the charging position overnight. These checks have been incorporated easily and quickly into our procedures, and the impact on staff has been minimal.
The impact on visitors has been huge. We have been able to welcome visitors who may not have otherwise visited the gallery, and they have been able to stay for as long as they wish. All our staff are really invested in the Changing Places toilet, seeing it is a key facility as we strive to be accessible for all, and the positive feedback we’ve received has reinforced how important this is:
@bethfoden1 – Brilliant day out this weekend @HepworthGallery who really GET #inclusion #accessforall @CP_Consortium Thank you for making our treat for Daddy possible
@bethfoden1 – @HepworthGallery is what ALL museums and galleries should be like!
@PeterFoden – Free, family-friendly, noisy, alive, full of connectivities, and totally accessible
Stallholder from one of our fairs – “Congrats on your changing places toilet by the way- my brother needs to use one and I was absolutely delighted to see you’ve installed one – honestly, it’s a lifesaver for wheelchair users and their families!”