Public facilities for safety, comfort and independence

There are various public facilities available across South Gloucestershire to help you maintain your safety, comfort and independence when you are out and about.

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Accessible toilets and radar keys

Most public toilets in South Gloucestershire are managed by South Gloucestershire Council. There are several other public toilets in the area that are managed by town councils or other organisations. You can find more information on the public toilets maintained by South Gloucestershire Council, including a list of locations, on the main council website.

A Radar key is a skeleton key that opens most disabled toilets in the UK. The Radar key is part of the National Key Scheme (NKS) which gives people with disabilities and health conditions access to locked public toilets around the country.

Residents of South Gloucestershire who need to use accessible toilets due to disability can get a Radar toilet key for free. You can get them from the council’s one stop shops. If you qualify for a Radar key but are unable to travel to a One Stop Shop you can purchase them online from various disability charities.

Can’t Wait cards

The need for access to a toilet is sometimes extremely urgent and not being able to access one can result in physical pain and embarrassment, as well as a loss of confidence about going out into the community.

The ‘Can’t Wait’ card scheme asks local businesses to display a postcard in their windows, to show people that they allow card holders to use staff or non–public toilets, or to use customer toilets without purchasing anything. Can’t Wait cards are distributed through trusted partners, which include:

  • Age UK
  • the Alzheimer’s Society
  • Bristol Area Stroke Foundation
  • community nurses
  • South Glos Disability Equality Network, Disability Action Group
  • Memory Nurses
  • GP surgeries

Changing areas

Baby change facilities

Many public venues such as cinemas and restaurants provide facilities to change your baby. Speak to the staff to ask what they offer.

Venues do not have to provide baby change facilities by law. However, the government says that in large buildings that are being built or developed, separate facilities for baby changing and a larger unisex toilet containing an adult changing table are desirable.

Changing Places

Changing Places campaigns for more fully accessible changing facilities.

People with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well as people with other physical disabilities often need extra equipment and space to allow them to use the toilet safely and comfortably. Changing Places toilets contain:

  • height adjustable adult-sized changing bench
  • adequate space in the changing area for the disabled person and up to two carers
  • a screen or curtain to allow some privacy
  • wide tear off paper roll to cover the bench and  large waste bin for disposable pads

You can find your nearest registered Changing Places toilet in the UK by going to the Changing Places website and typing in an address, town or postcode.

Leisure centres

Many of the leisure centres in South Gloucestershire offer accessible facilities including changing areas. You can find out more on the Active centres website.

Shop mobility

Yate Shopping Centre in South Gloucestershire offers a shop mobility service.

The scheme provides scooters and manual wheelchairs for people with limited mobility who want to shop or use local amenities. People can be met from their car/bus/taxi/community transport with a scooter and escorted back on return for those with limited mobility.

You can find out more about the Yate shop mobility scheme on the My Yate website.

Public transport

Lots of public transport is now accessible, and there is often additional support available depending on your needs. You may also qualify for discounted fares based on your circumstances. You can find out more in the following article. 

If you are a young person with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) you can find out about the help available to use public transport, including details of the travel training scheme in this article

Facilities available at libraries

South Gloucestershire Council libraries are safe and welcoming with trained staff who can help adults and children find suitable books. 

The Health and Wellbeing sections offer NHS recommended “Reading Well” books which provide information and support for dementia, long term health conditions, managing common mental health conditions or dealing with difficult feelings and experiences.

If you want to read but do not have time to visit the library, you can use digital library services to download eBooks, eAudiobooks and digital magazines and newspapers for free.

If you love to read but are finding print is getting too small, you can browse and borrow from the library’s range of large print and free Audiobook collections.

If you cannot leave home, the Home Library Service volunteers will bring up to 20 books to your doorstep, hand-picked according to what you like to read. This free service is for people who have difficulty using their nearest library due to reduced mobility, disability, the need to shield or responsibility as a full-time carer.

Libraries also offer free use of computers with a full range of Microsoft software access to the internet and free Wi-Fi. 

You can contact your local South Gloucestershire library by telephoning 01454 868006, or visit the council’s website for library locations and opening hours.

Council One Stop Shops

South Gloucestershire Council have a number of One Stop Shop buildings, which are specifically designed for visits by the public. These open Mondays to Fridays, and are located in Kingswood, Patchway and Yate.

Staff in council One Stop Shops are highly trained and have the authority to deal with your question or issue, arrange services and resolve problems on your behalf.

Our One Stop Shops have been adapted to ensure that any customers with physical or sensory impairment can access our services. Translation services are available for customers whose first language is not English. Each One Stop Shop also has private interview room facilities should you wish to speak to an officer about a confidential matter.

You can find out more about the council One Stop Shops on the main council website.

Further information

More information advice and guidance on staying independent if you are older can be found on the Staying independent pages of this website.

Our SEND Local Offer is your source of information on help and support for families and children 0-25 with special educational needs and disabilities. You can read about accessible holidays and the special assistance available in our article Things to do with your child with special educational needs and/or a disability.