Public toilet closures leading to social isolation

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Elderly people are disproportionately affected by the cuts, Age Scotland says. 

18th November 2019 by Gavin Stuart 2 Comments

Councils are causing social isolation among Scotland’s older people by closing public toilets, a charity has warned.

Age Scotland says around 185 council-run public toilets have closed across Scotland since 2013, with three councils - Clackmannanshire, South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire - now providing none at all.

This leaves many older people unwilling to leave home, with 44% of elderly people saying they would use public transport more if they could rely on provision of toilets.

The charity is now calling on the country’s local authorities to safeguard remaining facilities and investigate ways to increase the number of toilets available for public use.

The appeal comes ahead of World Toilet Day on Tuesday, a UN-backed day of observance to highlight the global sanitation crisis.

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland’s chief executive, said: “While many are quite rightly standing up for sanitation in the developing world, we are urging Scottish councils to look closer to home and ensure the retention of public toilets.

“We know from speaking to older people that clean, accessible public toilets are absolutely essential for many to be able to enjoy a decent quality of life. They help older people with certain medical conditions and incontinence to live as normal a life as possible, being able to travel and interact with services and the local economy.

“For many, if there is no provision for public toilets, they simply will not leave their home. This means less socialising, less shopping, difficulty attending medical appointments, and a surge in loneliness and social isolation.

“We recognise that budgets are tight, but we believe that councils should consider the wider impact of public toilet closures on physical and mental health. Many councils are already using creative solutions, such as partnerships with local businesses, to increase provision.”
 

26th November 2019 by Jo Sutherland

Out of our bloody mindedness, I now have a Highland Emergency Loo Package in the car. In other words, a bucket with loo roll, hand washing and drying materials etc. My ex boss said I should have CRAP on it for Carry Round A Pail! Obviously, this is not a solution for everyone but it is useful in emergencies!

1st December 2019 by Shirley Todd

I am a full time wheelchair user. This issue also affects wheelchair users who already find it difficult to find accessible toilets. It causes social isolation and means that we wheelchair users just can't, not don't, go out. It's so unfair. It's 2019, not 1818!