Toilet selfie inspires £17,000 theatre investment

A mum’s ‘toilet selfies’ have inspired a south coast theatre to splash out £17,000 on brand-new facilities for people with disabilities.

Mayflower Theatre has announced it will install a ‘Changing Places’ toilet as part of its major refurbishment project this summer. It comes after hearing the story of Sarah Brisdion, who caught headlines last year when she posted pictures of herself on the toilet to campaign for better public toilet facilities.

The Hampshire mum posted a selfie from the loo every day in the lead up to Christmas to raise awareness of the poor conditions she was forced to change her son in when using public toilets.

After hearing of Sarah’s struggle and that of other parents in the area, Mayflower Theatre started its own mission to raise enough money to install a ‘Changing Places’ toilet. Now, after working hard to raise the money needed and securing funding grants, the theatre is installing the state-of-the-art facilities and hopes to invite Sarah along to give the loo its first ceremonial flush when it opens in September.

The facility will feature a hoist, adult-sized changing table, accessible toilet and wash basin, making it easier for people with disabilities to access the toilet and have their continence needs met.

Sarah, whose son Hadley has cerebral palsy, welcomed the news. She said: “I’m so honoured that the decision to install the new Changing Places facility at the Mayflower was down to my campaign. Having a fully accessible theatre in the City will change the lives of so many disabled people. Many will not have been able to experience the joy of a big production or ‘West End’ show before, due to the lack of facilities in these sorts of venues. I cannot thank the staff enough for working so hard to make this happen.”

Michael Ockwell, chief executive of Mayflower Theatre, said: “Live performance has the power to move and inspire, which is a wonderful thing. We believe it should be accessible to all, which is why we’re continuing to work hard to ensure people with disabilities can visit us with ease. Our new Changing Places toilet will make a big difference, as will the other improved accessibility measures we are installing as part of our multi-million pound refurbishment project.

“We hope it will encourage more families like Sarah’s to come and visit us when we reopen from September 28.”

Mayflower Theatre’s Changing Places toilet will be registered with the Changing Places Consortium as being available for people in the region, so it can be used by non-theatre-goers as long as the theatre is open. It will become the 11th facility of its type in the city of Southampton.

Among the organisations that helped to fund the initiative were The Hobson Charity Limited and Bruce Wake Charitable Trust. Staff at the theatre also held fundraising initiatives to raise money towards the Changing Places toilet including a three peaks challenge, coffee mornings and completing 9 half marathons in 9 weeks.

To find out more about the theatre’s refurbishment programme visit www.mayflower.org/refurb

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