People with disabilities and their carers are set to benefit from a new changing places facility which has been unveiled at the Magna Science Centre.

A new Changing Places room has opened at Magna Science Centre, the second of eight planned facilities across the borough, after Rotherham Council secured almost £500,000 in funding.

The latest specialised toilet provides a purpose-built environment, designed specifically to help disabled visitors and individuals with complex care needs, including people living with learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and other conditions.

Located in Magna’s Red Hall, the new Changing Places facility is fully compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act and includes a height adjustable changing table, hoist, as well as a sink and toilet. Changing Places are larger than a standard disabled toilet and provides an area which allows wheelchair access, access for carers, and a safe, calming environment to help anyone, regardless of their disability, to enjoy their visit to the popular attraction.

The new facility will be registered with the Changing Places initiative, which was launched in 2005, in a bid to help improve facilities to support people living with disabilities. To help disabled visitors enjoy their visit to Magna, the popular attraction has also invested in automated doors, helping to improve accessibility for wheelchair users.

Stuart Lee, operations director, Magna added: “Each year Magna welcomes over 1,500 people living with physical disabilities and complex care needs and the addition of a new Changing Places facility marks another important milestone in the continued upgrading of the popular attraction.

“We have worked closely with Rotherham Council and the Changing Places foundation to ensure that the new facility we have created is designed, resulting in a safe, dignified area to support individuals with complex care needs, whilst providing peace of mind to carers.”

Rotherham Council Cabinet lead for social inclusion, Cllr David Sheppard said: “It’s rewarding to see this new extended toilet facility open. It will vastly improve days out for many people who currently find it difficult to enjoy events with their friends, family and carers.

“These Changing Places toilets offer more space and essential equipment than standard accessible toilets. They’re hygienic, safe and comfortable for disabled people and their carers. And because they’re larger than a standard disabled facility, they offer space to manoeuvre a wheelchair, with up to two carers present."

“The Council successfully applied for £490,000 from the Government Changing Places Fund, which is one of the largest amounts awarded to any council. We’ll be using the money to open more of these facilities across Rotherham, which will make the town more accessible to all people.”

And the roll out of Changing Places facilities in Rotherham has also been welcomed by Paul Silvester, Head Teacher at Newman Special School in Whiston. He said: “Providing Changing Places facilities at popular leisure locations such as the New York Stadium, Magna, country parks and Wentworth Woodhouse makes them much more accessible for our students, carers and other visitors with similar disabilities. It is a brilliant initiative, and we welcome it so much."

A Changing Places room opened at Rotherham United’s New York Stadium in March 2023 and additional Changing Places spaces in Rotherham are also planned for:
• Clifton Park Museum
• Gullivers Valley Theme Park and Resort
• Rother Valley Country Park
• Thrybergh Country Park
• Wentworth Woodhouse
• Grimm and Co.