Inspirational Zack Kerr is the man behind a national campaign which has transformed the lives of thousands of disabled people and their families.
Zack, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy which affects his limbs and speech, was inspired to launch the Changing Places campaign with his family back in 2017, after growing frustrated at the lack of suitable toilet facilities for disabled people at motorway service stations up and down the country.
The campaign saw Zack leading the calls for more Changing Places toilets to be installed at service motorway stations, which are vital for around 260,000 disabled people and their families and carers in the UK.
Changing Places Toilets (CPTs), unlike standard accessible toilets, have an adult changing bench and hoist facilities as well as extra space for carers.
When Zack launched the campaign, there were just 10 Changing Places toilets on the UK motorway network and all of these were south of Birmingham. Without accessible facilities, disabled people face lying on public toilet floors or being severely restricted where they can travel.
Zack, aged 26, explained: “Without Changing Places facilities, we don’t have toilet facilities that we can use safely or with dignity when we’re out, so we end up isolated in our own homes. It doesn’t just affect us, it affects our friends, families and carers too.”
Amazingly, Zack gathered more than 140,000 signatures on his petition in just over 3 months and took his campaign all the way to Downing Street.
Fast forward to today, there’s now 1,700 registered Changing Places toilets across the UK, which are all listed on the Changing Places app so people can easily locate them. As a result of Zack’s campaign, there are now over 30 motorway service stations with a CPT and thanks to grant funding of £2m from the Department of Transport, there will be 30 more installed soon!
When he’s not changing the world, Zack lives at a specially adapted bungalow in Oswaldtwistle. He’s supported by carers from My Life and has been an Empower Housing Association tenant for four years.
Zack is a huge Marvel and Lego fan and his home is adorned with memorabilia of his favourite superheroes as well as his impressive Lego creations, which he builds with the help of a pen with blu tack on one end to help him connect the pieces together.
Zack’s tireless campaigning has taken him all over the country, and in 2020 he scooped the Positive Role Model for Disability Award at the National Diversity Awards – an accolade which saw him taking part in his other favourite pastime – meeting celebrities.
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