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‘Disgusting’ disabled changing room at Orchard Leisure Centre Armagh only part of wider problem

Images of the changing room depict grimy floors splattered with food, or what is suspected to be vomit in areas; a dirty changing table and shower curtain; and a cracked and soiled toilet brush holder

The mother of a disabled child living in Co Armagh has raised serious concerns about the condition of disabled changing facilities within the Orchard Leisure Centre – although she says this is “only part of the problem”.

Seanin McCleary-Traynor – mother of Oisín Traynor of Opening Oisín’s Opportunities – took to social media yesterday evening (Tuesday 18), posting a number of incriminating images of the disabled changing room in the condition she found it during a typical once-weekly visit to the centre.

The images of the changing room depict grimy floors splattered with food, or what Seanin suspected to be vomit in areas; a dirty changing table and shower curtain; and a cracked and soiled toilet brush holder.

The post was then later updated with images depicting similar cleanliness issues, this time within the leisure centre’s soft play area – known as Gulliver’s – that had been taken by an Inclusive Ability Trust member towards the end of March.

Speaking to Armagh I, Seanin said that despite these conditions being what she described as “normal” her experience last night “just bit the bullet”.

The well-known Ballymacnab woman works with Armagh’s Inclusive Ability Trust and has raised similar concerns with leisure centre management and council officials for a number of years now.

“Inclusive Ability Trust have been raising many issues with Orchard Leisure Centre for numerous years now, with our latest meeting with Orchard Leisure Centre management being as recent as the beginning of this month (June 2024), ” said Seanin.

“A number of meetings have also been attended by some of our local councillors from ABC Borough Council.

“Despite there being progress on some issues, we are concerned that many issues remain, some of these being alarming. The many issues have been brought to our attention by our committee members, by other participating members of our group and we have even been approached by members of the public who are not committee or group members, so these issues clearly affect a large segment of Orchard Leisure Centre users.”

Images of Gullivers soft play sent to Seanin by an Inclusive Ability Trust member

According to Seanin, some of the issues that continue to burden disabled service users and their carers include inadequate disabled changing facilities, in that there is a lack of suitable changing beds in the disabled changing rooms.

Seanin says that the lack of beds results in parents having to change their disabled children on dirty, wet floors.

Another issue that has been raised concerns a lack of bins within changing areas, despite a committee member offering to purchase bins at their own expense.

Continued Seanin: “One of the most alarming, yet most easily rectified issues, is the level of cleanliness and hygiene, and this issue applies beyond the disabled changing facilities, as many have raised issue in relation to Gullivers as well.

“We find the lack of cleanliness simply disgusting, and we included photographs in a recent post which clearly shows exactly that.”

The cleanliness issues are, for Seanin, part of a larger, ongoing problem – one which seems to be devoid of any resolution.

“Other issues that have been raised are parents with babies, who aren’t disabled, using the disabled facilities, with this issue also applying to the disabled parking spaces. People using amenities that are put in place for disabled people results in people with disabilities not having use of these. This simply isn’t fair,” she said.

“The list of issues raised goes on and on, and we are seeing a lack of urgency in these issues being addressed, which is very disappointing.

“At our last meeting with Orchard Leisure Centre, earlier this month, we were told that a third party company are used to undertake all cleaning. It is crystal clear that this company are failing atrociously in their obligations to keep the leisure centre clean, and nothing is being done about this.

“We were told at the same meeting that Orchard Leisure Centre were running at around 70% staffing levels but simple tasks such as keeping the leisure centre clean should be one of the main priorities for staff.

“Basically enough is enough. We are in 2024, far beyond the late 1960s when Orchard Leisure Centre first opened to the public, while it is also worth stating that some other leisure centres that we have attended within ABC borough do not present with many of the issues that we have continuously raised concerns about with Orchard Leisure Centre.

“We will continue to raise these concerns until we are taken seriously, and proper and adequate action is taken by those concerned.”

Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon was one of the first to contact Seanin upon learning of her situation.

Councillor O’Hanlon confirmed with Armagh I that he had liaised with the Director and Senior Management at Orchard Leisure Centre who have convened an “emergency meeting” this morning (Wednesday 19).

Councillor O’Hanlon has asked for the issue to be tabled for discussion at Monday night’s council meeting and for that discussion to take place in public and for it not to be confidential.

Armagh I contacted Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for comment but at the time of writing have not received a response.

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