Sarah Brisdion, 37, from Brockenhurst in the New Forest has been instrumental in campaigning for facilities throughout the South Coast.
The copywriter came up with the idea just before Christmas when she heard Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ on the radio but instead started to sing ‘All I want for Christmas is a loo’.
The mum-of-two has six-year-old twins, Hadley and Ericka.
Hadley has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and is a full-time wheelchair user.
His condition means that he is not always able to control his bowel and bladder and has to wear nappies. He also needs an adult sized changing bench and hoist to access the toilet and to be changed.
“I thought it would be great to re-write the song to help raise awareness of our need for changing places loos,” said Sarah.
She added: “Getting publicity of these issues is really hard work. Toilets are not glamourous. As a nation we don’t like talking about our personal needs. But it needs to be talked about. And I thought that perhaps this would be a good way to raise awareness with the general public.
“It has had about 5,000 views on YouTube but lots more on Facebook from various shares by different people. It’s difficult to measure as there were many versions posted rather than just the one. But if just one single person who has watched and listened to it works for a large business, venue or organisation that doesn’t have a changing places facility and it helps to encourage them to install one, then I will consider this a great success.
“I also hope it will encourage more people to campaign for these facilities and speak up about their needs and rights to be able to use a toilet with dignity when away from home.”
Friends of Sarah’s jumped on board to help create the festive video.
“A friend of mine helped write the lyrics, another one sang and recorded the track and we asked around our disabled friends and families for images to use and then myself and another friend made the video,” said Sarah.
The mum-of-twins founded the Hadley’s Heroes campaign, which has been involved in the creation of toilets with benches and hoists at Longdown Activity Farm in Southampton, Portsmouth International Port, Southampton Football Club and two new public toilet facilities in the New Forest District Council area near to where she lives.
The campaign has also seen the addition of a hoist to the adult changing facility at Paulton’s Park (Peppa Pg World).
She said: “Without these pieces of equipment, I have to lift Hadley to a toilet floor to change him and lift him back up again to his wheelchair. This is extremely difficult as he is getting really heavy.
“It’s not only heartbreaking to watch him get upset and cold having to lie on the floor, but it’s scary. I’m so worried that he will get hurt.
“When you are lifting anyone, but particularly a person who is unable to take their own weight and who cannot control their muscle movements, it’s really dangerous. I’m also really petrified that I will damage my back and not be able to care for him properly. The whole situation is horrible.
“But unless you or your child or loved one has a disability and needs these extra pieces of equipment to use the toilet, it’s very hard for people to understand. I had no idea that disabled children and adults were having to lie on toilet floors until we were in this situation ourselves. That is why I set up Hadley’s Heroes.
“I wanted to do something to help raise awareness, educate businesses and local authorities and help make the world my little boy is growing up in a better and more accessible place. I just want him to be able to enjoy the things that so many of us take for granted. I don’t want him to be disabled by a toilet. He shouldn’t have to miss out, stay home, be degraded and put in danger just because there are not toilets he can use when we leave the house. Not in 2016!”
The mum-of-twins aims to discuss the need for the facilities at Southampton and Bournemouth Airport and also in theatres and cinemas.
The family are currently unable to watch a theatre performance or film as it is not possible because of the lack of toilet facilities.
“I want that to change. I think that visiting the theatre or cinema should be one of the most accessible things families like mine can do together in their free time,” Sarah added.
Laura Moore, 40, of Ashurst Close, Goring, campaigns alongside Sarah and was instrumental in getting the changing places toilet on Worthing seafront installed last September.
She cannot also take her son William, seven, to the cinema because there is no ‘dignified’ toilet facility for him.
William, who appears in the video, also has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, which means he cannot talk or walk and needs to be lifted from his wheelchair and laid down to be changed in toilets. He also has epilepsy.
Laura recently spoke to the Herald after Cineworld and M&S had refused to provide a changing places facility.The mum-of-one praised her friend Sarah’s efforts to help raise awareness of the issue.
She said: “It took Sarah less than 48 hours from the initial idea to creating it and posting it on social media and she did it with the aim of raising awareness across the country in a fun and seasonal way.”
To find out more about Sarah’s story, visit www.hadleysheroes.co.uk
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