Anguish of mum forced to place her daughter on toilet floor

Issy Mealing Brook SUS-160614-123643001
Issy Mealing Brook SUS-160614-123643001

A mum has hit out at a lack of disabled facilities at Haywards Heath Station after she had to place her disabled daughter on a toilet floor to change her.

Heather Mealing was on her way to hospital in London with her daughter Issy when she needed to use the loo but could not find suitable changing facilties.“When Haywards Heath Station underwent a £35 million refurbishment I would have thought they would have taken disabled people’s needs into account,” she said.

Issy, who is 14, suffers from cerebral palsy, has severe learning difficulties, is incontinent and confined to a wheelchair. She was on her way with mum Heather from their home in North Chailey to the Evelina Children’s Hospital for an operation on a dislocated hip.

“When we got to the station we found there were no changing places available.” She had no choice but to lay Issy on the toilet floor to change her. Said Heather:“Even without her hip problem it would have been extremely difficult - she’s quite tall and seven-stone. It seems criminal in this day and age, after spending all that money, they haven’t looked at providing accessible toilets.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “The challenges faced by parents and carers of disabled adults are enormous and the railway industry as a whole works hard to make travel as easy as possible for them. Much of our railway was designed and built in an era when the needs of people with mobility problems were not considered and we have an uphill task to try and improve the 2,500 stations in the country.

“When Network Rail’s largest stations are rebuilt, such as Kings Cross, and Birmingham New Street, adult changing rooms are included.The project at Haywards Heath, which is a much smaller location, is not a rebuild of the station. “Instead, we have built a new car park and footbridge, and we are working on the creation of a new station interchange at the main entrance. New toilets were not part of the scheme as the station itself is not being rebuilt. Haywards Heath does, however, have an accessible toilet.”