A SPECIALIST toilet and changing facility has been installed at a port after a successful campaign from the mother of a disabled boy.
Sarah Brisdion wrote to the port to ask bosses to consider putting in extra facilities.
Her son, five-year-old Hadley, was born at 27 weeks. He has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.
Sarah, 37, said: ‘Like so many others, my son is faced with the undignified and unhygienic situation of having to lie on toilet floors or spend prolonged periods of time in his own bodily waste, because these special facilities are so rarely available.
‘It’s heartbreaking to have to lay somebody you love on a toilet floor to change them. It’s distressing and disgusting for him and really physically difficult for me.
‘And it gets harder the older he gets. When I raised this issue with the port, they were incredibly supportive and wanted to make changes as soon as possible, to ensure that the terminal building was accessible to all.’
Hadley officially opened the new facility yesterday, along with the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth David Fuller.
Cllr Fuller said: ‘These are state-of-the-art facilities and they are the first of their kind to be installed at a port anywhere in the world.
‘I am very proud that the port has done this for the city. This should set an example to other places.’
The new space includes an adult-sized, height-adjustable changing bench and ceiling tracking hoist, as well as extra space for mobility equipment and carers. It enables safe and dignified lifting, changing and toileting for those with complex needs.
Kalvin Baugh, ferry port manager, said: ‘We pride ourselves on providing the best for all of our customers. This is a wonderful facility, not only for those travelling to and from Portsmouth, but for the community too.’
Hadley’s twin sister Erica was there for support, as was grandfather Andy Babey, 63, and grandmother Lily Babey, from Totton, and they all enjoyed cake in the cafe after.
Sarah, from Brockenhurst, said: ‘Something as simple as some extra space, a bench and a hoist is nothing short of life-changing for families like mine. It enables us to use the toilet when out in public – something that most people take for granted.’