New state-of-the-art changing facilities and toilets fully accessible to people living with disabilities are to be developed in the Millennium Forum.
Management intends installing the new amenities to improve disabled access at the city centre theatre.
Sinn Féin MLA for Foyle Karen Mullan congratulated the Forum after they were allocated funding from Derry City and Strabane District Council (DC&SDC) that will now enable the construction of the complex needs changing facilities.
Following meetings with families of children with complex needs, Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan and Councillor Patricia Logue met with Council officials to look at changing facilities in Derry.
Mrs. Mullan said: “I am delighted that the Millennium Forum has been successfully awarded funding to adapt their premises at Newmarket Street for complex needs changing facilities.
“Locally, we have met with a number of statutory agencies, to stress the need for proper changing facilities in the city centre, similar to the state-of-the-art facilities at Ebrington.
“The installation of facilities at the Millennium Forum will relieve the pressure placed on families of children and adults with the most complex needs and allow easier access to proper facilities when in the city centre.”
Earlier this month the Forum’s Chair, Martin Bradley, and its Chief Executive, David McLaughlin, told members of DC&SDC’s Business and Culture Committee about their ‘accessibility and inclusion’ plans for the theatre.
In a presentation to local councillors they advised they had “applied for funding to provide a ‘changing place’ as current accessible toilets throughout the cityside no longer meet the requirements of disabled individuals who need assistance from one or more carers”.
There are further plans to adapt and upgrade the Forum’s backstage dressing rooms and toilets into fully accessible en-suite dressing facilities. The theatre also intends installing “folding portable ramps, door widening backstage to accommodate extra large wheelchairs and a portable hearing enhancement system”.
Mrs. Mullan hailed the Forum for leading the way by ensuring its facilities are fully accessible to all citizens and said she would continue to campaign for the replication of the Forum’s model at other locations across the district.
“I will continue to engage with families, businesses and statutory agencies in the coming months to press the need for more provision for suitable and complex needs changing provision in Derry and the wider Council area,” she said.
Since the appointment of a DC&SDC Inclusion and Access Co-ordinator in December 2015 the Forum has been represented on a working group for cultural venues aimed at improving access and sharing best practice when dealing with access issues.
The working group “encourages greater networking with other venues/organisations allowing us to share resources and expertise”.