The Dadsnet's Al Ferguson and father_of-daughters Simon Hooper campaign for baby change facilities in men's toilets

by Lauren Abbott

Frustrated fathers - including two of Kent's most popular Instagram bloggers - are re-igniting the fight to see baby changing facilities installed in men's toilets.

It's been three years since founder of TheDadsnet Al Ferguson went undercover with son Teddy to expose the lack of baby changing facilities open or available to dads wanting to change their child's nappy.

His campaign for change led to Italian restaurant Strada pledging to install a baby change unit for everyone - and not just mums - in all its UK branches, however no other firm followed suit.

But in a bid to ensure there is just as much equality for dads at home, says Al, as there is for mums in the work place, campaigners are back - this time with a change.org petition.

The petition which calls for 'Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Nero to add baby change facilities in the men's toilets' has already amassed close to 60,000 signatures.

Al, who lives in Tunbridge Wells, explained: "It's just a place to start. We could have gone for cinema chains or supermarkets. We just wanted to start somewhere."

The dad and blogger says a folding change table costs as little as £150 and one of the best designs he's seen for men's bathrooms involves fixing it to the wall above the cistern in a cublicle so it is only pulled down if required and doesn't take up valuable space the rest of the time which can be in short supply in ment's toilets.

Where possible he says he would like restaurants and cafes to avoid putting them in disabled toilets to get around the issue, explaining that these toilets are often locked, sometimes with a specialist radar key, and that both disabled users and babies often need urgent access and sufficient time to use a bathroom which doesn't make them ideal groups to share facilities.

Al Ferguson hopes his change.org petition will prompt more places to offer baby changing facilities for dads
Al Ferguson hopes his change.org petition will prompt more places to offer baby changing facilities for dads

Whilst MPs are preoccupied with Brexit, Al holds out little hope for any change to the law in the near future to enforce provision for dads.

But he says if the petition could reach a respected benchmark of 100,000 signatures and find the backing of some big corporate names it stands a better chance of being discussed by MPs at a later date.

One of those throwing his support behind the petition is Kent father-of-four Simon Hooper. The management consultant, who is married to midwife and blogger Clemmie Hooper, burst onto the social media scene in 2016 shortly after his identical twin girls Ottilie and Delilah were born.

The couple, who now live in Thanet after relocating from London, are behind the hugely popular Instagram accounts mother_of_daughters and father_of_daughters, which have more than 1.3 million followers between them.

Simon Hooper. Picture credit: Philippa James Photography.
Simon Hooper. Picture credit: Philippa James Photography.

In a post to his 916,000 followers Simon, who released his book 'Forever Outnumbered' last year, explained why he was joining the 'nappy change revolution'.

He wrote: "Chances of a law change are small but perhaps we can ask some leading outlets to make changes to help dads share the childcare responsibilities when out and about and not have to resort to changing our kids on bathroom floors, in car boots on toilet lids or just shoving our kids in the arms of women to deal with the problem."

To add your name to the petition please click here.

To learn more about the work of TheDadsnet and its growing community please visit the www.thedadsnet.com

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