Picture the scene. Slow tempo Christmas music plays in the background.
Sparkly Christmas lights reflect in the wide eyes of a six year old girl in the toy department of a large department store. Children around her look excitedly at the toys, pointing and chatting. The camera cuts to a wide shot which shows the children are in a queue to visit Santa. The six year old girl is revealed to be a wheelchair user with profound and multiple disabilities, and a huge grin. She signs the word ‘excited’ in Makaton to her beaming mother.
The camera comes in for a close up on the girls face as the smile drops away to be replaced with a crestfallen look of sadness.
The girl looks up at her mother who, upon noticing her daughters face also replaces her wide smile with a sympathetic, heartbroken look of resignation.
The little girl uses the Makaton sign for toilet.
Looking around her the mum takes the daughter from the Santa queue and navigates around the store to the baby change area. The girl looks at her mum and scrunches up her face in disgust points to herself and uses the Makaton signs for ‘not baby’ and ‘ouch’.
The mum nods and they reverse out and head to the disabled toilet where there is a toilet but no changing bench or lifting equipment. The two look at each other and then look at the floor and the girl signs the word ‘dirty’ and mimes vomiting.
The mum kneels by the side of the wheelchair and apologetically offers her daughter the choice between going home or being changed on the floor of the toilets. The girl signs ‘home’ sadly.
They walk past the queue for Santa with all the smiling children and a tear runs down the mothers face.
As they pass the grotto Santa appears from the back door and gestures the girl over. He signs ‘present for you’ in Makaton. The girl points to herself in awe. Santa wheels her over to a changing places toilet with a giant bow on the door. The girl high fives Santa.
The tagline reads ‘All I want for Christmas is a loo’
Bosh there’s you’re tug at the heartstrings department store Christmas Ad and what’s even better is it would be cheap as chips to make because the scene (well, right up until Santa reveals an appropriate loo) will be happening in shops up and down the country every day.
For those of us with children and young people who require a changing table and hoist to use the toilet this is real life and I can promise you it really is tear jerking.
Maybe if department stores filmed this version then they could free up some of the reported £7 million budget to be spent instead on providing a basic service for the 1 in 250 people who need them.
After all Christmas is a time for miracles right?
Check out http://www.changing-places.org/ for more information about the campaign for accessible toilets