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Colostomy Association voices concern over closure of Pangbourne public toilets

Sep 1, 2016

 Reading based charity, the Colostomy Association is concerned over news that Pangbourne Parish Council has decided that it will not fund or manage the public toilets in Station Road Pangbourne.

The Colostomy Association is currently campaigning to improve toilet facilities for people living with a stoma across the UK. Most toilets do not meet these requirements and increase the risk of accidents and embarrassment.

 Anyone with a colostomy needs to have the confidence that a public toilet is within easy distance should they need to change their bag. Though not actually classed as being disabled, people who have a stoma ideally need access to running water, clean facilities, shelf space, disposal bins and more importantly – privacy.

The news that the public toilets in Pangbourne have been closed since October 2015 is a worrying one for people with a colostomy, or those suffering from incontinence generally. Sadly, this is a pattern that is being repeated across the country with at least 1,782 facilities closed in the UK in the last decade according to a Freedom of Information requests.

The Colostomy Association hope that the residents’ group Action for Pangbourne Toilets (APT) will be able to form into a suitable organisation and to run them themselves, and looks forward to hearing the outcome of an imminent meeting in Pangbourne Village Hall. The meeting, on Tuesday 6th September at 7.30pm, will seek support for a new community trust to fund and manage the toilets for the benefit of the village and its visitors. If the community trust goes ahead the Colostomy Association will work with them to advise on making the toilets stoma friendly.

Susan Hale, General Manager of the Colostomy Association said: “Public toilets are a necessity for people with a stoma, as they need to be sure they can conveniently and securely change their colostomy bag. With public toilets facilities being closed down across the country some people become isolated and too afraid to go out. This issue also impacts on the wider public so it’s imperative we try to reverse this trend for the benefit of everyone.”

The Colostomy Association guidelines for stoma friendly toilets are:

Hook on door - To hang clothing and belongings while changing stoma bags. This provides more space in the cubicle.

Shelf space - To enable people to spread out their items easily and avoid having to use unsanitary surfaces.

Disposal bin - To avoid embarrassment for men and women having to dispose of their stoma bag in public view.

The residents’ group Action for Pangbourne Toilets (APT) held a public meeting in the village hall on 6th September. This was well attended and included the chief executive from West Berkshire council. Villagers were asked to make a pledge to donate and/or volunteer. The initial response was positive.

As a result, APT are now in the process of setting up a charity and are hoping that the re-opening of Station Road toilets will quickly follow. Further details can be found in GetReading

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