Our brand new reimagined Octagon is just one of a small number of buildings in Bolton to accommodate a Changing Places toilet.
Equipped with facilities that most standard accessible toilets do not provide, Changing Places toilets are for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well as people with other physical disabilities such as spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis.
Over 250,000 people in the UK require the use of Changing Places toilets to enable them to enjoy day-to-day activities that many people take for granted.
The Changing Places facility provides adequate space for the user and up to two carers, is fitted with a height adjustable adult sized changing bench, a tracking hoist system, a privacy screen and a shower, as well as a centrally placed toilet.
This new facility will make the venue more accessible and provide an enhanced visitor experience for people with disabilities, providing extra comfort and independence for them and their carers.
The Octagon Chief Executive, Roddy Gauld commented: “The previous layout of the Octagon really limited access and toilet provision and one of the big reasons for redeveloping the building was to improve disability access. The reimagined Octagon now has accessible toilets on every floor as well as our new Changing Places facility. We really want the Octagon to be a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone, and with this new facility we hope visitors with additional needs can confidently look forward to visiting the Octagon when we reopen.”
Stephen Parry - a former trustee of the Octagon Theatre when the plans for the new theatre were being developed said: “It is wonderful to see how the new, more accessible building, will make the Octagon’s long-standing commitment to a culture and practice of inclusion even more achievable.
“The provision of the 'Changing Places’ facility is an important part of the overall range of improvements which have been made. It will enable people with complex needs to attend performances, for a wide range of people to participate in the full range of community programmes and create a more accessible working environment for actors and members of staff.
“There are currently a limited number of Changing Places toilets in Bolton and the Octagon is again leading the way in making the aspiration to be a fully inclusive town into a practical reality.”
Stephen and his son Morgan Parry, who has cerebral palsy, (both pictured above) recently visited the new facility. Morgan’s complex physical and communication difficulties did not prevent him from being a regular participant in the Octagon’s Youth Theatre when he was younger, but access was a problem at the time.
Stephen added: “He was delighted to see the Changing Places toilet and the other changes which now make the whole building more accessible. He feels sure that the new provision will encourage disabled people of all ages, their carers, families and friends to feel confident to access live theatre together and participate in the brilliant community programmes of the kind that he enjoyed when the theatre opens again.”
Octagon theatre-goer Ian Brown, who is carer for his disabled son, Thomas, added: “As a family we love going to the theatre and we believe these multi-sensory experiences have played a massive part in our son Thomas' development. However, like many disabled people, Thomas has quite complex toileting needs, this restricts massively where we can take him.
“It is simply incredible that the Octagon has listened to families like ours and included a Changing Places toilet as an integral part of their rebuild, offering comfort and dignity to all. This vital facility ensures that as he grows, Thomas and his sisters can continue to experience the magical, family friendly productions that the Octagon has to offer.”
The Changing Places facility was installed as part of our £12million redevelopment which has seen the complete modernisation of the entire building with updated performance spaces; brand-new participation facilities; improved front-of-house experience; and expanded backstage accommodation.
Click here for full information about all the access facilities at the Octagon