The ‘Space to Change’ toilet facility, was opened by five year old Hadley Brisdion.
It includes an adult-sized, height-adjustable changing bench and ceiling tracking hoist, as well as extra space for mobility equipment and carers.
This allows safe and dignified lifting, changing and toileting for those with complex needs.
Sarah Brisidon, Space to Change campaigner, Firefly Community Blogger and most importantly mum to 5 year old Hadley who has cerebral palsy, made Portsmouth International Port's staff aware of the fact that when they travel as a family the Port's previous accessible toilet provision did not meet their needs.
'Like so many others, my son is faced with the undignified and unhygienic situation of having to lie on toilet floors or spend prolonged periods of time in his own bodily waste, because these special facilities are so rarely available.
It’s heartbreaking to have to lay somebody you love on a toilet floor to change them.
It’s distressing and disgusting for him and really physically difficult for me. And it gets harder, the older he gets.
When I raised this issue with the Port, they were incredibly supportive and wanted to make changes as soon as possible, to ensure that the terminal building was accessible to all.'
Kalvin Baugh, Ferry Port Manager, said, 'It was brought to our attention by local ‘Space to Change’ champion, Sarah Brisdion, that standard accessible toilets do not meet the needs of people with severe disabilities or additional needs.
Even more shockingly, that they often have to lie on toilet floors to be changed.
We felt very strongly that nobody should have to endure this and so worked closely with Sarah to find a solution.
We believe we are the first sea port to offer these vital amenities.'
Sarah explained to staff at the Port the benefit that a bench and hoist provides to special needs families, 'It is nothing short of life-changing for families like mine.
It enables us to use the toilet when out in public – something that most people take for granted.
We now have even more reason to choose travelling by ferry from Portsmouth, over any other port or airport.
In fact it’s great for travel agents to be aware of this facility when talking to groups or individuals going on a cruise or ferry holiday, who may have physical requirements, to know their needs are being met.
I cannot thank the Port management enough for understanding and helping to make such an important difference to the lives of so many people.'