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Mum drops her trousers on busy London street in support of young autistic son

PUBLISHED: 11:43 14 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:39 14 May 2018

Emma Spagnola sitting outside BathStore on Baker Street London. PICTURE: Hadley's Heroes.

Emma Spagnola sitting outside BathStore on Baker Street London. PICTURE: Hadley's Heroes.

Archant

A Norfolk woman took part in a national awareness-raising event this weekend by sitting on a toilet on the pavement of Baker Street in London.

Emma Spagnola joined a dedicated group of campaigners to promote disability toilet awareness using the hashtag #PantsDown4Equality.

Mrs Spagnola, of Lynewood Road, Cromer, has worked in Norfolk to increase the number of disabled changing rooms from four to eight, and is hoping to encourage big businesses and councils to make them mandatory.

She first joined the campaign when her young son, who has autism and at the age of six still wears nappies, grew too big to change on normal changing room tables.

Mrs Spagnola said: “I sometimes have to change him in the backs of cars or on dirty toilet floors.”

The awareness day in London, on May 11, attracted national attention, including from celebrities Adam Hills and Sally Philips, both of whom are disability advocates.

Mrs Spagnola said the original plan had been to sit in the window of a BathStore, but finding the sun too bright for shoppers to see through the glass reflections, they decided to move their toilets to the pavement.

Mrs Spagnola said: “It was one of the best weekends of my life, really positive.”

Her next move will be to parade on a pick-up vehicle at this year’s Cromer Carnival, sitting on a toilet, of course.

She said: “It’s nice to keep it going so people don’t forget.

“We still need to find a loo for the carnival though.”

More than 250,000 people, including those with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people, cannot use standard accessible toilets.

The campaigners said they needed Changing Places toilets to enable them to get out and about and enjoy the day-to-day activities many of us took for granted.

They said Changing Places toilets had more space and the right equipment, including a height adjustable changing bench and a hoist.

Mrs Spagnola said: “I know that a lot of small businesses won’t be able to afford it but we’re hoping for a Changing Places toilet in every town and big business.”

For more information visit http://www.changing-places.org

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