Taking the P! Community campaign wants better public toilet provision in Coventry

A Coventry campaign group is calling for better public toilet provision in the city centre after listening to people’s less than positive experiences.

People, including members of the Need The Loo group itself, shared stories of avoiding drinking too much, shortening the time they spend in shops and feeling forced to buy refreshments in order to ‘spend a penny’ in a 2023 local survey.

A handmade 'toilets this way' signpost is attached to a lamp post with Coventry Cathedral in the background.
One of the team’s homemade signs.

Another ‘bog standard’ was a lack of adequate signage showing where the nearest public toilet is and how long it takes to walk there. Most other Coventry city centre attractions are signposted in this way.

So on Monday this week, the team hit the streets armed with their own ‘guerrilla signage’ to make their point – starting with busy shopping and eating area Broadgate, where there are none.

A Coventry city centre tourist map showing streets and attractions but not public toilets.
Spot the public toilet on this section of a Coventry city centre visitor map.

Need The Loo’s listening campaign and local survey last year said:

  • Almost a third (32 per cent) of people limited fluid intake to reduce their need to go to the toilet while on a trip to Coventry city centre
  • More than half (55 per cent) of respondents said they avoid using public toilets at all
  • One quarter said they limit time spent in city centre shops so they can return home quickly to use their own toilet facilities.

One respondent said: “We need more signposts! You don’t know where the toilets are.”

Another shared: “My friend can’t go to the city centre in the evening as the Changing Places toilet will be closed. He feels Coventry is saying he is not welcome.”

The public survey summary can be found here (scroll to the bottom).

A social media post shows someone holding a water bottle with a thought bubble containing a toilet. A quote says people are limiting fluid intake so they don't have to try to find a toilet.
“I have to limit what I drink so I won’t have to go to the toilet as much,” said one survey respondent.

Being able to use clean, accessible public toilets, often urgently, is an issue of dignity and safety affecting disabled people, people with long term health conditions, older people, parents with small children and many more.

Some feel a ‘disability tax’ applies as many cannot afford to purchase food and drink in order to use facilities in city centre eateries, for example.

The issue may not directly affect everyone right now but could at some point in their lives.

The wider community is being asked to support the campaign’s aims (see below) so everyone can benefit. Including local businesses and tourist attractions who want new visitors to feel welcome and able to return to an accessible, inclusive city.

This includes work on the £450 million transformation of the centre of Coventry known as City Centre South.

Need The Loo want Coventry City Council and developers to get public toilet provision right.

The council, Coventry BID and Public Health are working with Need The Loo on improving online signposting and also summarising their survey results for city planners.

And the Disability Equality Action Partnership (DEAP) has said it supports the campaign too.

But Need The Loo want more action – especially on signage.

A woman with short grey hair and glasses holds a handmade 'toilets this way' sign beneath a visitor signpost showing various tourist attractions but not where the nearest public toilets are.
Anne from Need The Loo with an example of absent signage.
What do Need The Loo want?
  1. Better and more signage about toilets – physical and online
  2. Better maintenance of the existing toilets in the city centre
  3. More toilet provision in the areas of the city centre that are currently lacking
  4. More understanding by businesses of why people may need to use their toilet
  5. Better collaboration to ensure the toilet provision makes Coventry people proud and visitors feel welcomed.
Who are Need The Loo?

Formed around an idea sparked by local professional Anne Forgan at a Connecting For Good Cov (by Grapevine) ‘Collaboration Station’ in 2023 – a free to join, monthly ideas night where Coventry locals can transform issues related to social isolation and marginalisation into collective social action.

The Need The Loo core team were motivated to act after hearing many different experiences from people who need to access toilets easily and without fuss but are struggling to do this in Coventry city centre with the current provision.

Read more about Need The Loo here.

About Connecting for Good Cov

Connecting for Good Cov, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, is a movement against isolation and marginalisation in Coventry – sparked by Grapevine and local people.

Read our update on the community organising team’s latest work alongside Coventry’s diverse communities here.

Connecting for Good Cov forms part of Grapevine’s Sparking Community and Shifting Power action strands.