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At your convenience? Why are the toilets always so difficult to get to?

27 October 2017

When you've got to go, you've got to go. So why is it that toilets in public places are so often up or downstairs and difficult to get to? Edilia Emordi, from the Senior Citizens’ Media Group, has her say.

It really is a mystery to me when I go to a restaurant or pub and the men’s loos are on the ground floor while the ladies’ are either up or downstairs.  These establishments do not usually have a lift.  

This can be daunting for an elderly  or disabled person. Furthermore, is it really safe to have to go to an area of the restaurant or pub that is isolated from where other customers could hear calls for help? What happens if someone is lurking in an upstairs or downstairs corridor in an environment where conversation or loud music may drown out any distress call? 

Even more infuriating is Victoria Coach station, where one is usually burdened with luggage and the toilets are down some very perilous steps. Whatever do they think travellers are supposed to do with their luggage? 

In these days when health and safety is on everyone’s lips the lack of adequate provision is inexplicable. This is not just an age issue as it also concerns mothers with young children.

There are disabled facilities in most establishments, located on the ground floor – however, the key for these has to be requested from staff, which some may find a bit intimidating. There is a key called the “Radar key” which opens most of these disabled toilets. It is well worth the investment. It is surprising these have not had greater publicity.


The National Key Scheme (previously called the Radar Scheme) was developed because some public toilets for disabled people were locked to prevent damage and vandalism. 

The Radar key gives access to over 9,000 accessible toilets in the UK, including in shopping centres, cafes, pubs and train stations. Keys can be purchased from the National Key Scheme for £4.50 upon declaration of need.l

n For more information phone 0207 250 8191 (Calls cost up to 13p per minute from a landline phone and 3p to 55p per minute from a mobile) or go to

Photo credit: Rose Holley

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