Disabled kids left to change in the toilet

scene pic of Lisburn Leisureplex.  US1309-546cdscene pic of Lisburn Leisureplex.  US1309-546cd
scene pic of Lisburn Leisureplex. US1309-546cd
Lisburn City Council has apologised to parents and carers of special needs children after a lack of changing facilities at the local Leisureplex forced some to change in a toilet.

During a visit to the swimming pool by a local special needs school, the teacher was shocked to learn that the disabled changing facilities had been closed due to ongoing work at the centre and she was not allowed to accompany her male pupils into the single sex changing rooms.

Lee Clarke, the parent of one of the children involved, was outraged.

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“My child has complex health issues and should not have been left alone,” she said.

“It is completely unacceptable that this should have happened. The Leisureplex should have had proper facilities for special needs children in place.”

Another parent was forced to stop her son going swimming last week. “My son is autistic and was unable to attend swimming as he needs to be supervised at all times and couldn’t change in female changing with me as he is 11 and they aren’t allowing anyone over eight to be in opposite sex changing,” said Rachael Rodgers.

Claire Hughes, Chairperson of the local branch of Autism NI, also had a traumatic experience at the Leisureplex with her son. “My son had to get changed in the disabled toilet on the Monday night, and his clothes got soaked in the inadequate dry unit disabled facility on the Wednesday,” she explained. “Another mum who visits with her two disabled sons was directed to change them in the disabled toilet and she is seven months pregnant.

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“I appreciated that there would be some disruption to Leisureplex services when the new facility was being developed however there was no proper consideration for disabled customers. The Manager told me that they had consulted with groups, well I am Chairperson of Autism NI Lisburn Branch and they certainly didn’t consult with our group.

“ Would the toilet floor be good enough for any elected representative’s son?

A spokesperson for the Council said: “Correspondence was sent to all schools that use the facility in early October to advise on alternative changing arrangements.All schools were advised to contact the Lagan Valley LeisurePlex regarding any queries they might have. No queries were received.

“The Council has been in touch with both the school and the parent concerned.

“The Council has apologised for any distress caused. It has also already taken steps to revise arrangements arising from this complaint.”

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