Our Access Champions would like town centres in Merton to be accessible for all, to ensure that no group feels isolated from participating in our community. However, a lack of accessible toilets, resting places and more, often result in community spaces not feeling inclusive to Disabled people and other groups like the elderly and parents. We are delighted that a new Changing Places Toilet (CPT) has been installed in the new Wimbledon Quarter Shopping Centre.
In 2019, Craftivism & Chat began to bring together members with shared concerns and hopes for the borough. This led to the creation of the Access Champions. This is a group of local Disabled people passionate about making Merton a more accessible borough.
Following the success of past work campaigning for a Changing Places Toilet in Morden Leisure Centre, the Access Champions' first goal was to push for CPTs in all town centres. We started with Wimbledon, as the then Centre Court was the only place in the borough with a variety of retailers. We met with the manager of Centre Court and expressed the importance of the installation of a CPT and improved accessibility within the centre. The manager agreed with us and planned to push for a CPT to be installed and for Merton CIL to be involved with work to make the centre more accessible. We collaborated on a Purple Tuesday event in 2019 aiming to improve the Disabled customer experience.
Then, a few months later, the pandemic hit.
The pandemic, lockdowns, and redevelopment of Centre Court brought a halt to the progress that we had made.
In 2023, we engaged with Councillors from the main parties within the council about the redevelopment of Centre Court. We also reached out to Romulus but did not hear back. Following contact from the Deputy Leader of the Council and other figures within the council, Romulus agreed to meet with us.
Two Access Champions and our Joint CEO met with Romulus. We raised the need for a CPT. We also spoke of the need for other accessible toilets too, discussing colour contrasting, resting and quiet places, charging facilities and more.
We were delighted when Romulus then shared with us that they had worked a CPT into their planning for redevelopment.
Fast forward to November 2023, the newly redeveloped Wimbledon Quarter was open to the public. Although we knew of the plans, we were so happy to see that Romulus invested in a CPT.
Our Co-Chair Gina said “This is a huge win. We are grateful to Romulus for investing in a CPT and thankful to everyone that was involved in pushing for this. It is so nice that all groups within our community can now come shopping and meet with friends, knowing there is a toilet they can use. I can’t express how much of a difference this will make to Merton CIL’s members. This is a great move to making Merton more accessible for all”.
Accessible public spaces are extremely important in ensuring that Merton is a welcoming and inclusive borough. We would like to see Merton lead by example and work towards all public spaces being as accessible as possible.
You can watch Merton Council’s short video here.
If you are interested in joining our Access Champions group, you can find out more here.