Despite using New Street Station in Birmingham, a number of times, I have not realised there is a ‘Changing Places’ facility in the confines of the actual station. If you enter via the entrance alongside Tk Maxx by Leon, the ‘Changing Places’ facility is to your left with the other toilets. I had not noticed the ‘Changing Places’ facility within New Street Station before as it is tucked away in one of the corners. I never thought that look as there is a facility located in Birmingham Bullring. Being in a secluded part of the station gives a lot of privacy to those who will use it and reduces the possibility of being used by non-disabled people. It does have the correct symbol which identifies it as a ‘Changing Places’ facility which is great to see!
The facility is radar key operated and therefore well protected, highlighting to those who are in need of the facility about the equipment inside. It is well-equipped as it is got the majority of equipment expected to find in a standard ‘Changing Places’ facility. As you walk-in it looks quite small and tight, but then opens up to a very spacious room for extra comfort and utility. I was impressed of the cleanliness within the facility, which I found pleasantly surprising as it is based in a busy train station. However, there were not any hangers, so we had to be wary of this.
There was a showering adoption within the facility which is a good tool to help with hygiene. This added more reassurance and dignity for the user. Unfortunately, we could not find a privacy screen. The toilet is placed directly opposite the door, so it is very unlikely that someone would come in, but I felt very exposed being naked on the toilet. I think this needs to be rectified ASAP.
In this ‘Changing Places’ facility, one of the key pieces of equipment is the changing bed and I found this at the far left of the facility, clean and folded away, ready next use. This was very satisfying to see. The H track ceiling hoist, which is key piece of equipment, was in working order and slid in all directions. There are a number of users like me that cannot transfer independently or cannot be lifted out of the chair and therefore rely on the ceiling hoist to be operational at all times. My only criticism compared to other ceiling hoists, is that this one didn’t go as high as I would have liked, and both my dad and I found it difficult to use. Despite this, we were able to use it successfully, but it is something to be aware of for future usage. I will be using this ‘Changing Places’ facility again in Birmingham New Street, particularly when travelling to and from Coventry University on a regular basis.
I recommend this facility to other disabled users, especially when you have a long day ahead that includes a lot of travel.