Posted 27.11.2018

The Millennium Forum recently launched its new Changing Place Facility which will provide much needed public toilet/changing facilities for disabled individuals who need assistance from one or more carers.  The state-of-the-art facility was officially opened on Monday by the Mayor, Councillor John Boyle, who declared it open for public use.

Lisa Heaney, Box Office & Access Manager at the Millennium Forum, has been working alongside Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Access and Inclusion Project to provide this facility that will greatly benefit the many disabled individuals and their carers who currently do not have access to public toilets that meet their specific needs.

As a public building situated in the busiest footfall area of the city, we attract 320,000 customers each year.  Recent statistics indicate that 1 in 9 people in Northern Ireland is registered disabled.  It is, therefore, hugely important to us as the main arts venue in the North West region to provide facilities such as this so that everyone can enjoy our theatre without any barriers.  A fully accessible toilet/changing facility that includes a hoist and space to accommodate a number of carers, is essential for those customers who wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit us.  Entry to the changing place will be by fob or a universal radar key.  Customers who are registered on our Access Membership Scheme and who require this facility will be given a fob to access it.

Louise Boyce, Access and Inclusion Coordinator, Derry City & Strabane Council:

The Access and Inclusion project within DCSDC’s cultural team are delighted that Millennium Forum are the first cultural venue in the North West to install a changing place facility within their venue with support from Accessible grant aid. This achievement is a credit to all involved and their continued understanding of the importance of an accessible and inclusive venue which also embeds Equality Commission NI’s ‘Every Customers Counts’ framework.

The Access and Inclusion project is an exemplary  showcase of effective partnership working between DCSDC and PHA, with further co-design and co-produced approaches expanding the partnership to Department for Communities with the highly successful Accessible grant aid for cultural venues.  Since the conception of DCSDC’s Access and Inclusion project great strides have been taken to highlight the importance in creating opportunity for our residents and visitors from our pan disability community to participate in cultural experiences and reducing barriers that may be detrimental to their wellbeing and quality of life experience. The Access and Inclusion project strives to implement a benchmark practice, whilst recognising the contribution that our cultural venues can make to communities, to the local economy and wider government policies with the primary purpose of the accessible grant aid contributing to DCSDC’s  community plan action “…promoting accessible cultural experiences

Fiona Teague, Head of Health Improvement (West), Public Health Agency, added:

“PHA is delighted to support the work of the Access and Inclusion Officer at Derry City and Strabane District Council in continuing to embed best practice in access and inclusion, throughout arts and culture venues across the council district, through the delivery of the Access Programme for Cultural Venues. The Millennium Forum is leading the way forward through the opening of the first changing places facility in the locality. This will make a significant difference to the lives of people with disabilities who will now have the space and equipment required to meet all personal hygiene needs in safety and comfort.”

A spokesperson for Department for Communities also commented:
The Department for Communities vision is one of supporting people, improving communities and tackling disadvantage.  The work undertaken by Derry City & Strabane District Council to promote and improve access and inclusion across its district is an important step towards realising this vision whilst also increasing opportunities for people with disabilities to participate more fully in arts and cultural events and activities.  Delivering this Programme in partnership with the Council and Public Health Agency demonstrates the benefits of joined-up working and what it can deliver for communities.”

The Millennium Forum has been leading the way in terms of accessibility in the Arts for a number of years. The Forum was the first theatre in Ireland to hold a Relaxed Performance of its Pantomime in 2013 followed by a dementia friendly performance in 2015.  In addition, the theatre has recently been recognised as a centre of excellence in providing accessibility by winning the Change A Little Change A Lot and the Arts & Disability Equality Charter awards. It also won Dementia Friendly Organisation of the Year 2017/2018.

The new Changing Place Facility is now open at the Millennium Forum.   It has been built in partnership with partnership with DCSDC Access and Inclusion Project and the Autism Impact Award.

For more information on the Millennium Forum accessibility, contact Lisa Heaney, on 028 7127 2779 or email [email protected].  For businesses who are interested in becoming an Access Partner for the Millennium Forum, contact Cara McCartney on 028 7127 2785 or email [email protected].