Our comms volunteer Sarah gives her personal perspective on the Government’s ‘Ask Don’t Assume’ campaign.   As a disabled person, do non-disabled people make assumptions about you and/or your abilities or give help or advice when you don’t want it? If so, you’re not alone.   A Government campaign ‘Ask Don’t Assume’ features the voices of people with various disabilities who describe their feelings

Rebecca Smicle, CEO of Independent Lives receives grant from ASDA Foundation holding a cheque with the word 'Inclusion' in the background.

Independent Lives has received a £400 Empowering Local Communities Grant from the Asda Foundation. This funding is allocated for the creation of wellness bags for their Home First service customers. These wellness bags are designed to assist individuals transitioning from hospital care to their homes, providing them with essential items that support their recovery and

Independent Lives' community researchers, Polly, Gareth and Cara [L-R]

Independent Lives community researcher – Cara Redlich (right), shares her experience of starting work with Independent Lives and working on a project she feels really passionate about. In June 2023, I started a new and exciting job with Independent Lives. This charity focuses on helping people with disabilities and carers. My job is to study

Accessible toilet sign with icons for male, female, and wheelchair users.

It came to light recently that a Government report from 2020- 2021 into public support for the use of different types of public toilet provision produced some interesting results.

One stood out: 2% of responses were said to support the use of accessible toilet provision – just 351 out of 17589 responses in total. Sound surprising? You can find the link to the main report at the bottom of this article, but these are the main relevant points in brief:

Four themes were taken from the responses.

1. Responses read as supporting a type of toilet provision
Support for other types of toilet provision were 83% for non-gendered toilets, 12% for separate sex toilets, 6% for both types, and 2% for accessible toilets.

2. Safety concerns
Less than 1% of responses citied concerns about the safety of disabled people amidst greater numbers of responses citing concern for trans/binary people (79%), women (75%), girls (3%), children (2%) and men (1%).

3. Other issues
78% of all responses cite accessible toilet provision as an additional issue. Also, overall, responses assumed to support accessible toilet provision were the most varied in identifying wider issues such as menstruation, design of toilets, queuing, and toilet availability compared to those assumed to support other types of toilet provision.

4. Protected characteristics
80% of responses assumed to support accessible toilet provision potentially impact on the protected characteristic of disability in accordance with the Equality Act (2010). So, while only 2% of responses are assumed to support accessible toilets, a significant majority raised the issue of accessible toilet provision later, suggesting it’s important to many people, although it’s frustratingly unclear what the comments were.

Research issues

The way the research was carried out could be the problem as, perhaps surprisingly, no direct questions were asked about which toilet types people supported. Rather, people made their own decisions on what to comment on.

Their responses were then interpreted by the researchers to assume support for a particular toilet provision and counted into groups in accordance with that type.

The report admits the ‘evidence’ can be misleading: The mere 2% of responses said to support accessible toilets may simply reflect the fact that no specific questions were asked about whether people supported accessible toilets.

People may have assumed they would always be available, unlike more controversial types, such as non-gendered toilets. And it’s also possible that people may not have chosen to comment on accessible toilets because they have less personal relevance to them than other types.

Without knowing exactly what people intended with their comments, or lack of them, it’s highly likely that support for accessible toilet provision is a lot higher than this report suggests.

What next?

What could be useful now is research that directly asks people what types of toilet provision they support so answers are less likely to be misinterpreted.

Also, a detailed questionnaire focussing on issues and suggestions which are relevant to different groups of people, such as those with a disability, when using public toilets would provide plenty of useful information when considering toilet provisions.

To read the entire article, visit the following link: Toilet provision for men and women: call for evidence.

Close-up of courgette plant leaves and flowers with a burgeoning courgette, against a backdrop of potting containers filled with soil.

In a marvellous display of horticultural skill, a group of disabled gardeners triumphed in this year’s Sompting in Bloom awards, clinching first place in the Blooming Community category. Sompting in Bloom is a yearly gardening competition run by Sompting Parish Council and sponsored by Sompting Estate. This year, local gardeners put their skills to the

An elderly man in a wheelchair and a woman wearing face masks while looking at a tablet together

As the weather turns colder, the Government is ramping up its COVID-19 vaccination programme for 2023. The Government has confirmed which groups will be entitled to an autumn COVID-19 booster. They are: Residents in care homes for older adults; All adults aged 65 years and over; People aged six months to 64 years in a

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Would you like to share your experiences and views to contribute to a better society for disabled people? New proposals to improve the lives of disabled people have been set out by the Disability Unit (DU) – part of the Cabinet Office – which has been established to address barriers faced by disabled people in

A selection of British banknotes in various denominations spread out.

We’re looking for people to take part in our cost-of-living steering group. In April, Independent Lives was awarded funding by NHS Health Education England to look the inequalities faced by disabled people and carers in West Sussex because of the cost-of-living crisis. We want to make sure that the people affected have a say in

Two ticket vending machines with options for cash and card payments at a station.

The bad news continues for disabled train passengers with the Rail Delivery group (RDG) announcing the potential closure of 1000 ticket offices across the country within the next three years. As part of their plan to ‘modernise’ the railway, the RDG states that most transactions at ticket offices last year could have been done online

A group of individuals in white t-shirts with rainbow logos holding pride flags, standing in front of a banner with the words 'Excellence', 'Inclusion', 'Innovation', and 'Person centred'.

Staff from Independent Lives will be taking part in Worthing Pride 2023 on Saturday 8 July, transforming the event into a celebration of inclusivity and support during Disability Pride Month.   Disability Pride Month, observed throughout July, highlights the achievements and struggles faced by individuals with disabilities. The month-long initiative aims to challenge societal norms, raise