Northlink Ferries who provide the lifeline service to Orkney and Shetland is the first UK ferry operator to invest in fully-equipped Changing Places toilets.
Passengers with complex disabilities and their carers can now use specially designed ‘Changing Places’ toilets aboard two of Serco NorthLink’s ferries. The move is a result of a partnership with the organisation PAMIS (Promoting A More Inclusive Society) which campaigns for these facilities, and has been supported by Transport Scotland.
Mum and carer Jenny Whinnet, who helped to start the campaign 20 years ago, said:
“This is an exciting development for families and carers. It permits people who need these facilities to travel further afield confidently and with dignity. This is very different to the early years of this campaign, when it was so difficult for me to travel with my son Craig because there were no Changing Places toilets available.”
The new toilets are already open on deck six of MV Hjaltland and MV Hrossey, and will be available on board MV Hamnavoe by the end of the year.
Jenny Miller, Chief Executive Officer of PAMIS said:
“We’ve been very impressed with the commitment and consideration shown by Serco NorthLink Ferries in developing changing places toilets on their ferries. They have really listened to the stories from the families and people we work with and who feel excluded from so many activities that we all take for granted.
“We’re delighted that the Orkney and Shetland ferries will be the first in the country, and possibly the world, to have a Changing Places toilet.”
Northlink Ferries have introduced several new measures to improve the travel experience for all their customers. Improving the Accessibility of Ferry Travel to Orkney and Shetland
Commenting on the new facilities Paul Wheelhouse,Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, said:
“We know accessible travel not only enables people to enjoy equal access to our beautiful country, but it also enables people to fully participate in society and improve the quality of their lives, so we want to continue to identify and remove any disabling barriers which prevent people from making journeys or lead to them having an unpleasant time on board.”
Stuart Garrett, Serco’s Managing Director at NorthLink Ferries, said:
“This investment is another sign of our commitment to making our facilities as welcoming as possible to everyone in the community.
“It will open up opportunities for many people with disabilities and their families to visit some of the most beautiful parts of Scotland. It also supports those living on the islands when travelling to and from the mainland for leisure and essential healthcare.”