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Use Our Loos: A New Zealand first that recognises when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go 

Nelson City Council is launching a new initiative to make more clean, safe and accessible toilets available to the public, and is inviting local businesses to join the programme.

From Friday 12 August, businesses around Nelson are invited to display ‘Use Our Loos’ stickers in their windows, indicating people are welcome to use their toilets without making a purchase.

“We know having access to toilets is a big issue, particularly for older people, and the fear of getting caught out can put them off leaving the house. In fact, a recent survey shows access to toilets is the third most common area for concern of older people living in Nelson,” says Councillor Matt Lawrey, who chaired the City for All Ages Working Group.

“We’d love to get as many establishments as possible on board, and hopefully the places that offer this service see a little boost to their business. There’s an increasing number of people out there who want to support ethical businesses and Use Our Loos is going to give them a chance to do just that.”
Participating businesses will display the new ‘Use Our Loos’ stickers, making it easier for people to find a loo when they need one.
Morrison Square shopping centre is among the first businesses to get involved. The centre manager for Morrison Square, Angela Leonard, says making their loos available for anyone was a no-brainer.

“We want to make it easy and welcoming for customers of all ages and abilities to spend time in Nelson and in Morrison Square. It makes being downtown more accessible and a better experience for everyone.”

The initiative is modelled on a successful campaign in London, which mobilised local businesses to make more toilets available to the community. It will be the first of its kind in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The idea came out of a conversation between Council’s Group Manager Strategy and Communications Nicky McDonald, and Councillor Lawrey about the need to provide more services for our ageing population, and Council’s goal of attracting more people into the central city.

The Manager of Age Concern Nelson Tasman, Caroline Budge, says having easy access to toilets is a really important issue for many older adults.
“Research shows that some people are afraid to leave their homes if they’re unsure of being able to find a toilet. It can be an invisible disability that causes social isolation – and that’s something at Age Concern we really don’t want to see.

“We’re delighted that Nelson City Council has launched Use Our Loos. It’s a great, low-cost initiative that can help anyone who gets ‘caught short’. Hopefully more and more Nelson businesses will jump on board with this new project that’s helping to make our city accessible,” says Budge.

“The ‘Use Our Loos’ stickers won’t just be helpful to older people, they’re going to benefit people with disabilities, people looking after young children, and pretty much everyone,” says Councillor Lawrey.

“Use Our Loos could also attract more customers to the businesses involved and encourage more people to come into town to enjoy all the central city has to offer. Every business that signs up is part of making Nelson an accessible city for people of all ages.”

Any businesses that would like to join the Use Our Loos programme can email Council’s community partnerships adviser, with the subject line ‘Use Our Loos’.

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