Public Washrooms in the UK
While the UK population has increased by 12.5% over the past two decades, the amount of public toilets has declined by a whopping 39%. This is an alarming disparity, and with the gap only looking to continue, we thought it was of vital importance that we start a conversation about an otherwise unpublicised problem. This article is going to explore the reasons behind our toilet slump, as well as the problems they’re causing people up and down the country and how we, the population, can make a change.
Why are our public toilets in decline?
The past two decades has seen our country subjected to austerity measures in a bid to overcome economic difficulties. These measures have resulted in cuts to public services and facilities, with toilets becoming an unfortunate victim.
In Wiltshire, the number of public toilets have diminished from 32 in 2010 to just one single toilet today. In Wirral, the price to use public toilets is increasing to 30p, with many pay barriers refusing to give any change for the privilege. A similar trend can be found across the country, as local councils choose not to prioritise public loos over other facilities or services.
There is a belief that the stigma surrounding public toilets have been a factor in this. Many people feel that public toilets have become little more than a dwelling for antisocial behaviour, including drug use and vandalism.
But regardless of whether or not a small number of toilets are subject to this activity, the fact remains that we all need to pee.
How are people being affected?
The convenience of always having a toilet nearby is gone.
Disabled people are also struggling significantly as a result of the cuts. As standard access public toilets have declined, so too have disabled access public toilets. There are 250,000 disabled people in the UK who are unable to use standard access toilets, many of whom are now hours away from a suitable disabled loo. This results in an unwillingness or inability to leave the house, due to the uncertainty of whether there’d be a toilet nearby. Some are even going as far as to opt for an emergency surgery that entails the insertion of a suprapubic catheter.
Women, in particular, due to periods, pregnancy and the need to sit down, are suffering from the lack of accommodating facilities — all because of the lack of public toilets.
What is being done?
Public toilets and the inability to use a standard accessible toilet can be embarrassing topics for some. As such, the conversation surrounding this issue is not often spoken about as much as other, less stigmatised topics. Starting the conversation and raising awareness are the first steps to making a change. The next step is to take action, and that’s what many charities have already started to do.
The ‘use our loos’ campaign is an initiative driven to provide extra toilet options. The campaign provides establishments with stickers that indicate whether they’re happy to allow others to use their toilets without needing to pay for any of their services. Many businesses are currently signed up to the scheme, and many are forecast to join in the future.
We understand that austerity can be necessary, but the act of relieving ourselves in a dignified manner should be a fundamental human right for everyone. We believe it should be mandatory for councils to provide the necessary amount of toilets that accommodate for the residing population, and that they’re accessible to all, regardless of disability or wealth.
Here at Spectrum Interiors, we understand the importance of toilets. We create bespoke washrooms, tailored exactly to the requirements of your business; we create a stunning washroom for everyone. To enquire further, give our friendly team a call today or use our contact form.