A MAN is on a mission to make baby changing facilities available for all parents, regardless of their gender.

In January, 26-year-old Ryan Andrew Potter. with his partner Ryan McFarlane, was granted guardianship of his newborn nephew, also called Ryan.

But since becoming guardians of baby Ryan, now eight months old, the couple have found leaving the house on some days an impossible task – due to the lack of baby changing facilities installed in male or unisex public toilets.

“Being granted a special guardianship order for Ryan was not something we planned, it’s been life changing,” said Mr Potter.

“Like all new parents we had to learn everything from scratch, but one of the things we quickly realised as two men was the lack of public baby changing rooms that we were able to access around Darlington in comparison with the facilities available in nearly all women’s toilets.

“On an outing to South Park I was forced to change Ryan’s nappy in the backseat of my car in a public carpark because there were no facilities for men to use. It felt degrading, and was very difficult.

“I wrote to the Darlington MP, Peter Gibson, about the issue. A representative responded to me saying I could have used a customer table at the cafe located on site.

“Ryan might be a baby but he still deserves dignity, and not to be exposed in public. From a safety perspective you also don’t know who is around, or who could be taking photos.

“I found that response quite shocking.”

Mr Gibson said: “I can confirm that I was recently contacted by a constituent regarding the baby changing facilities in South Park.

"As a Darlington Borough Council owned property I referred the matter to the council for a response, who in turn supplied information provided by Richmond Swimming Pool Trust, who operate the café at South Park. It would appear that a changing table is available in South Park café upon request.

“I fully support Ryan’s campaign to ensure that baby changing facilities are available to parents and carers of all genders and I look forward to further engagement with him on this campaign.”  

Mr Potter said that the lack of male and unisex baby changing facilities is a UK wide issue, which does not reflect the rise in single fathers and guardians or couples men in same sex relationships choosing to have children.

“It also isn’t fair that women are expected to always be the ones who change the baby. Parenting should be 50/50, one parent should be lumbered with the sole responsibility of changing a baby,” he said.

“I’m now uncomfortable taking the baby out without having female companion with me who can change his nappy when we’re somewhere public.”

Mr Potter has set up a online petition requesting the government to consider making baby changing facilities unisex friendly.