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A vital Changing Places facility officially opens at The Atkinson improving accessibility for visitors to Southport

Changing Places toilets enable anyone, regardless of their disability, to go to the shops, attend hospital appointments, enjoy community life, socialise, and travel. All the things that most of us take for granted every day. These facilities offer people with profound and multiple learning disabilities or with physical disabilities extra equipment and space to allow them to use the toilets safely and comfortably.

The Atkinson’s Changing Places facility has been available for use by visitors to Southport since 2020, but the official launch was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. On 18 July 2022, The Atkinson was joined by members of Southport Access For Everyone (SAFE) and The Atkinson Development Trust for the official launch of the vital facility and to celebrate the achievements of all involved. The opening ribbon was cut by Matthew Hurst, a regular visitor to The Atkinson and SAFE volunteer.

people attend launch of Changing Places toilet facility at The Atkinson
L-R: Margaret Jolley (Trustee, The Atkinson Development Trust), Stephen Whittle (Principal Manager, Museum, Gallery & Operations, The Atkinson), Fiona Caplan (Secretary, Southport Access For Everyone), Matthew Hurst (Volunteer, Southport Access For Everyone), Emma Harrison (Principal Manager for Access, Engagement & Enterprise, The Atkinson), Barry Jackson (Volunteer, Southport Access For Everyone)

When The Atkinson re-opened in 2013, it had a sizeable accessible toilet on the first floor, with additional accessible toilets on the ground floor and second floor. In 2017 the need for a changing places facility was stressed to The Atkinson by members of SAFE, primarily Fiona Caplan and Matthew Hurst.


Fiona Caplan, Secretary, Southport Access For Everyone (SAFE):

Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK live with a disability that severely limits their mobility. They cannot use standard accessible toilets because they need access to the specialist equipment and extra room provided by a Changing Places toilet. Without this facility they are unable to go out and enjoy seeing and doing things that other people take for granted.


The Atkinson’s Emma Harrison (Principal Manager for Access, Engagement & Enterprise) met with Fiona Caplan, Matthew Hurst and his father David to discuss the need for a more accessible facility. In 2018, with an official letter of support written by Fiona on behalf of SAFE and a compelling letter of support written by Matthew and his father sharing their personal experiences, The Atkinson applied for a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund to install a Changing Places facility on the first floor of The Atkinson.


Matthew & David Hurst, Volunteers, Southport Access For Everyone (SAFE):

Everyone has a right to live in the community with access to its facilities but for some people like Matthew the lack of a fully accessible toilet denies them this right…. On using a Changing Places toilet we found that when using the ceiling hoist compared with mobile hoist, transferring was less difficult, more efficient, easier to access and careers at a lower risk of injury. Matthew was less anxious and far more positive operating the controls independently and with the adjustable washbasin he was also able to be more independent washing his hands.


The National Lottery Community Fund grant application was successful, and The Atkinson was awarded £10,000 towards a new facility. Further financial support was offered by The Atkinson Development Trust to prepare the existing accessible toilet for the upgrade. After a series of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Changing Places facility was finally installed in 2020 by Astor Bannerman who are experts in the design and manufacture of specialist bathing and care equipment.


Emma Harrison, Principal Manager for Access, Engagement & Enterprise, The Atkinson:

This upgrade allowed us to go from compliant to comfortable and we are proud to have achieved it.  With lots of help from our partners at Southport Access For Everyone (SAFE) we were successful with an application to the National Lottery Community fund. With their funding we could buy the upgraded equipment and have it installed. The Atkinson Development Trust funded the vital work to get the room prepared for the installation. 


This journey to expand The Atkinson’s accessibility is echoed in one of their core values in particular: ‘To listen to our audiences and visitors to help us improve the service we offer.’


The Atkinson’s fully equipped Changing Places facility is fully lockable, has a floor space of 12 square meters and includes a H frame ceiling track hoist, a wall mounted height adjustable adult sized changing bench, a peninsular toilet, a height adjustable washbasin, a shower, a non-slip floor, a privacy screen, a paper roll and two emergency cords.


Residents and visitors to Southport with their own RADAR key (a skeleton key that opens locked accessible toilets in the UK) can use the facility during The Atkinson’s opening hours. The RADAR Key Scheme enables disabled toilets to be locked to prevent vandalism and misuse, while also being readily available to those who really need them. Visitors without a RADAR key can ask a staff member to open the facility for them.


Meg (Visitor to The Atkinson)

Thank you SO much for having this beautiful changing facility. It’s amazing. Now we can have a day out at the beach without having to go home for the toilet. Things like this mean the world to us! Thank you. Meg (aged 8) and her mum Kathy.


Find out more about accessibility at The Atkinson and plan your visit online:



For further information please contact:

Charlotte Down, Marketing Manager,, 0151 934 2799


Images and videos can be downloaded here:


Changing Places

Changing places toilets in Southport:

  • The Atkinson, Lord Street, Southport, PR8 1DB
  • Southport Market, King Street, Southport, PR8 1LA
  • The Life Rooms, 23-35 Scarisbrick Avenue, Southport, PR8 1NW


Southport Access For Everyone (SAFE)


National Lottery Community Fund


The Atkinson Development Trust (Charity number 1161020)


Astor Bannerman

The Mersey Beatles bring number one hit-packed show to Southport

All 17 of The Beatles sensational UK Number One hits will be delivered in an all-new live show by the world’s favourite Liverpool-born tribute to the Fab Four.

The Mersey Beatles have played to sold-out audiences around the globe for more than 20 years and they are bringing their unmissable theatre show to The Atkinson, Southport, on Saturday September 4.

This will be one of the first full-capacity shows at the historic coastal venue since the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

And to celebrate the return of live music – and, of course, the hits of the greatest band of all time – The Mersey Beatles will play every Beatles’ chart-topping single in this magnificent two-hour show alongside more than 20 other classic songs.

So, get your dancing shoes ready as such smash-hits as From Me To You, She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand to Lady Madonna, Get Back and Hey Jude will all be delivered in a truly authentic way.

Formed in Liverpool in 1999, The Mersey Beatles – Mark Bloor (John), Steven Howard (Paul), Craig McGown (George) and Brian Ambrose (Ringo), together with keyboard player and percussionist Tony Cook – were the resident Beatles’ band at the legendary Cavern Club between 2002-2012 – clocking up more than 600 gigs.

Since leaving The Cavern, The Mersey Beatles have toured the world many times over – winning legions of fans, including John Lennon’s sister Julia Baird and The British BeatlesThe Mersey Beatles tour image Fan Club who rate them as “The best Beatles tribute band around”.

They exude the inner and outer spirit of the real thing, from the costumes, instruments, Scouse charm and, of course, that unmistakable era-defining, Liverpool-born sound. Their show wonderfully flows from the ‘Mop Top’ hits of Beatlemania, through the psychedelic creativity of Sgt Pepper to the melodic wonder of the Fab Four’s later work.

Steven said: “We can’t wait to play Southport – The Atkinson is a brilliant venue and the audiences are always up for a great night.

“As for everyone, this last year has been incredibly difficult. Our 2020 World Tour was postponed and not being able to go and play shows has been so frustrating.

“But live music is back at last and so we thought what better way to celebrate than to create the ultimate feel-good night by playing, for the first time, every Beatles’ Number One in the same show.”

Mark added: “That’s 17 chart-toppers – from 1963’s From Me To You to 1969’s The Ballad of John and Yoko – played totally live, as they should be, plus many, many, more Fab Four hits.

“We’ll play around 40 songs in the show so it’s going to be a brilliant night for Beatles fans. My advice is bring your dancing shoes!”

Final tickets for The Mersey Beatles at The Atkinson, on Saturday September 4, are available now from or by calling (01704) 533 333

Sefton Council looking forward to welcoming people back to refurbished fitness facilities

Representatives visiting site including MP Peter Dowd, Cllr Paul Cummins and Cllr Marion Atkinson

Sefton Council is looking forward to welcoming people back to refurbished fitness facilities at Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre on Monday 12th April, as lockdown measures are eased.

Work carried out during lockdown means that users will be able to enjoy a brand-new fitness and spin studio, an updated fitness suite and refurbished changing rooms with new toilets. There is also a brand-new reception and social area, a new fitness class waiting area and new meeting rooms.

Cllr Ian Moncur Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing said

“I’d like to thank our staff who have been working hard behind the scenes while the gym has been closed due to the pandemic. It has really paid off as I’m sure our members will enjoy an even better experience when they return.”

“The gym and lake will re-open on Monday 12th April and new members can book an induction from Tuesday 6th April. Fitness classes will commence on Monday 17th May.

At the site visit, Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said:

“These improvements are part of a £3.1 million scheme to transform the whole of Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre, which is at the entrance to the beautiful Crosby Coastal Park and adjacent to Anthony Gormley’s Another Place (the ‘iron men’).

“Construction has already begun on the project, which will see new and improved wedding, conference, hotel, dining and bar facilities.

“This transformation is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021 but in the meantime the leisure side of the Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre, including the gym and the water sports activities, will be open for business as usual throughout the work.”

MP for Bootle Peter Dowd said:

“It has been great to come on site and see how this amazing project is coming along and to get a glimpse of the new and improved leisure facilities first hand.

“As part of the original team who worked on the Lakeside when it opened in 2009, it is fantastic to see the Council still valuing the asset and making these improvements.

“Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre is an incredible asset and I am delighted that this investment has been made in order to improve the service for the local community and visitors.”

Also visiting the site Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care Cllr Paul Cummins said:

“I am so pleased that such a significant investment has been put into this fantastic facility which can be enjoyed by people from our borough and beyond.

“The plans for this site are exciting and the development is already coming on leaps and bounds. I am fully confident that this leisure and hospitality offer will be a major benefit to Sefton’s visitor economy.”

Mike Macaulay, Director of Crossfield Construction, commented:

“We are delighted to have started construction on this flagship project.

“It gives us great pride to be entrusted with Sefton Council’s vision to revive the Coastal Park and the wider area.

“Many of our team grew up in Crosby so this project is very close to our hearts and we are committed to ensuring that our work here positively impacts the wider Sefton community.”

Public transport lights the way for Borough Of Culture!

Sefton Council is making it easier for families wanting to travel and watch all three showings of an amazing light projection show as part of our Borough of Culture year.

The Council has teamed up with Borough of Culture travel partner Arriva to offer free family bus passes while The Nightingale’s Song is on (March 13-15) at Waterloo Town Hall, Bootle Town Hall and The Atkinson, Southport.

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Bill & Bob: The Anfield Revolutionaries takes to the stage at The Atkinson

The compelling story of how Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley joined forces to transform Liverpool FC and English football is coming comes to Southport later this year.

Renowned Southport author and radio presenter John Keith will take to the stage at The Atkinson on December 6, to mark the 60th anniversary of Shankly’s appointment as manager in 1959.

He will be joined by Kop heroes Ian St John, Ian Callaghan, Chris Lawler and Phil Neal as they chart Shankly’s arrival at a club trapped in Second Division mediocrity and how he inspired a glorious revival of Liverpool fortunes.

The charismatic Scot, assisted by coach and physio Paisley, guided Liverpool to promotion, three League titles, two FA Cup triumphs – ending the club’s 73-year wait for the trophy in 1965 – a UEFA Cup success and unbroken qualification for European football.

Tickets for the one night only showing are selling out fast, proving to be a popular Christmas present for the Red in every family. 

The show starts from 7:30 pm on Friday December 6 at the Atkinson Theatre, Lord Street, Southport.

Tickets are priced at £26. For more information or to book click here.

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