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Changing rooms

(25 Posts)
Iam64 Fri 12-Jun-15 12:58:53

What an interesting thread Anya, thanks for raising this as it affects so many of us. Our local authority pool had family changing areas and by the time I could afford to join a local gym my grandsons were 11 and 13 so I felt (reasonably) ok about them using the male changing rooms.

Absent - the local private gyms I know of have family membership as well as individual, so the pools are well used by children. I used to swim at 7.30 before work as it was peaceful with only a few of us doing laps. Half term holidays to be avoided if you want peace n quiet smile

Anya Fri 12-Jun-15 08:02:41

i had a phone call from the NSPCC about safety in changing rooms last night. Apart from their more recognised work they also develop policies, for example, on Safeguarding Children in Sport.

Again this issue is one that they recognise and are trying to encourage councils and the private sector to adopt good practice, such as having 'village' changing areas or at least an alternative room available if requested.

It's not just private clubs who run swimming lessons at weekends and after school. The council-run pool has swimming lessons in that 3.30-5.30 time speck, bar Friday. That doesn't bother me as an adult as I can swim during the day if I want to or later in the evening.

I have found a facility, a bit of a drive away, that has a family changing area and two pools, a leisure pool and a serious swimming pool. But life shouldn't be this complicated!!

When we were children there were excellent facilities locally, with three pools under one roof. A Premier Plunge, the Ladies First Class and the Birdie. Each had cubicles around the edge of the pools. These were Victorian, in fact the complex was called the Victoria Baths.

How come it was possible to build and maintain such splendid pools in Victorian Times but not nowadays? hmm

FlicketyB Fri 12-Jun-15 05:22:58

Our local private leisure centre doesn't have children as members but does run swimming lessons for children of members at weekends and after school.

There is a news item on the BBC site saying that the numbers of people swimming has gone down significantly. One of the reasons given is that many pools prioritise swimming clubs and learn to swim sessions at times when there is most demand from people who want to just turn up and swim.

DH and I both find this - even at a private facility - . I swim on a Saturday morning. The pool opens at 7.30 and I have to be out of the pool by 8.30 when swimming lessons start. DH finds, even during weekdays, the pool is often in use for adult leisure classes like water zumba and water aerobics.

Anya Thu 11-Jun-15 23:01:36

Here children have to be members, added to an adults membershio and pay a monthly fee, albeit reduced as they cannot use the gym, saunas etc.

absent Thu 11-Jun-15 19:29:26

There is a difference between a public swimming pool that anyone can use and a gym where you have to be a member. The latter are places designed for adults; children are usually only occasional visitors as a member's guest. They are often quite small with insufficient room for family changing rooms and the pool is simply a pool for swimming with no waves, body boards or other jolly features. There is not usually a lifeguard present and adults have to take responsibility for themselves and their guests. This also applies to saunas and steam rooms which are not safe for young children to use. The absence of a large number of children, who are always astonishingly loud in swimming pools, is one of the reasons adults join private health clubs.

AshTree Thu 11-Jun-15 19:06:18

Oh well done FlicketyB. grin

FlicketyB Thu 11-Jun-15 18:41:08

When our new sports centre was designed the original plan showed a bank of totally open poolside showers and no others, so that, people like me, and many other regular swimmers who like to strip off and have a good shower and hair wash after a swim would have nowhere to go.

We had meetings with the council and when they were intransigent we said that if there was no provision for private showers, we would turn up all together, shortly after the facility opened, and en masse after our early morning swim we would all strip off to use the showers, using plenty of shampoo.

The pool was built with a small shower area incorporated into the men's ands women's toilet facilities. The poolside showers remained.

Anya Thu 11-Jun-15 07:31:01

I'm glad it's not just me being over-protective.

I had a lovely phone call back from the County Council Child Protection Officer, Rosie. She acknowledged this is an issue and as they are in the process of re-writing their Child Protection Policy this is one of the points that will be raised in that new policy. She said that our local swimming baths was built many years ago and they are hoping to redesign it with 'village' changing facilities. She has asked that I put my concerns in writing as it will give her greater leaverage with the Planning Department.

In the meantime she has arranged that, providing it isn't in use, we can use the disabled changing room. She also told me of another swimming pool about 5-6 miles away which does have a family changing area.

The private gym has come back and said he can get changed in the sunbed room or (I spoke to a different person who has a young son herself) just say he's 7 if anyone queries it.

Someone said, on a different thread, that this is the strength of GN. Either getting a different perspective on things or, in this case, finding out that 'it's not just me'

Thank you all sunshine

Soutra Wed 10-Jun-15 22:03:16

blush I am sorry for repeating what others have just said.

Soutra Wed 10-Jun-15 22:01:26

In a hypothetical situation I should imagine it would be even harder for a Dad or grandfather to take a little girl swimming?
At a bit of a tangent, apparently I was taken to Edinburgh for the day by my father when Mum was poorly (when I can't have been more than 6) and my Dad had to accost a "friendly" female passerby to take me into the Ladies in Princes Street Gardens.

FlicketyB Wed 10-Jun-15 21:43:19

Hear, hear

AshTree Wed 10-Jun-15 21:35:22

This sort of situation really should not be happening in this day and age and actually makes me very angry. All swimming pools, leisure centres etc. which require a change of clothes SHOULD have family rooms available. For heaven's sake there are so many single parent families now, and grandparents caring for grandchildren, they HAVE to be catered for. Even in two parent families, it is not acceptable to expect both parents to be present at all times. Why should they? Why can a mum not take her son swimming on her own, or a dad his daughter, without having to find a responsible adult to take them in to the correct changing rooms and supervise them? What happens at busy times if there aren't enough staff, because any available staff are already changing other people's children?
I would be making a huge fuss about this, going to the papers and so on. This needs to change, nationwide.

absent Wed 10-Jun-15 20:12:36

I used to use a small gym/swimming pool that had a similar set-up. The ladies' changing room was a large communal room with two cubicles. The showers and loos were in a room that opened off the changing room. The pool was quite small and very quiet – I was often the only person using it in the mid-morning. I know a dad used to bring his daughter for a swimming lesson and one of the staff used to look after her and help her get into her togs before the lesson and get dry and dressed afterwards. I should think tho procedure is commonplace in most gyms/pools.

rosesarered Wed 10-Jun-15 13:25:59

I would not leave him by himself to go into the male changing room ,def not!
Take him into the Ladies, and if anyone objects say you can do so as he is only seven.Nobody will object, and nobody from the staff will know he is eight either.

tiggypiro Wed 10-Jun-15 12:57:19

DD had this problem in Beijing at the hotel pool they use. DGS's (4 and 18mths) used to go in the communal changing room with her but it was then decided that ALL males should use the male changing room. She pretended to hand over the 18mth old over to a male attendant telling him that he would need to change the very dirty nappy first and the 4yr old would need his bum wiping too. Problem solved !!
Our local pools have communal changing rooms with lots of cubicles and a good number of family sized ones.

Ana Wed 10-Jun-15 12:32:16

The only alternative seems to be to bundle him up in a towelling robe and send him to the car to wait for you to get changed, Anya! sad

Anya Wed 10-Jun-15 12:19:49

Flickety I wish I had said he was 7 when I went to view the place, but I didn't and they said he couldn't get changed in the female changing rooms.

The actual changing rooms are spacious - too spacious IMO with dozens and dozens of lockers and a huge floor area with benches and hooks, all designed for a communal female changing area, and just the one little cubicle tucked into the corner. I can't answer for the male changing rooms!

It's a shame as the pool is about 15m, very clean and barely used, which ideal for teaching him to swim.

I've phoned the DC asking about their Child Protection Policy as their own pool has single sex changing rooms too and a 7 and under policy only. Had to leave a message as there was only an answer phone.

FlicketyB Wed 10-Jun-15 10:56:34

A quiet shy 8 year old boy? Take him into the women's changing room with you and do not think twice about it.

The pool and facilities you intend to use must be very small to only have one women's changing cubicle. DH and I use a small private sports centre and they have one reasonable sized unisex changing room with plenty of cubicles.

Anya Wed 10-Jun-15 10:03:45

Thanks for that info Nightowl I've found out that the nearest public swimming pool doesn't have a family changing area either hmm

bookmaker and Charleygirl there is only one cubicle in the female area and if that is in use then we're stuck and the female loo is in the changing area but opens onto the fenale shower area.

I'm going to ring the DC and see what the policy is in their public pools first, then I'll know more.

Thanks for help and suggestions.

Charleygirl Wed 10-Jun-15 09:24:46

Is the female loo within the changing room or is it further away? If within, could he not change there?

bookdreamer Wed 10-Jun-15 09:17:03

I would take him in the ladies dressing room with me and get him to use a separate cubicle or even share the same cubicle. I can't imagine anyone would object.

nightowl Wed 10-Jun-15 09:08:09

Just asked my OH his opinion about this Anya and he pointed out that every establishment that accepts children on a commercial basis has to have a child protection policy, so he suggests asking them how their policy covers this situation. At his gym for example, they sometimes send in a member of staff (DBS checked of course) with unaccompanied children.

Child protection social worker for 35+ years and this never occurred to me (duhhhh)

Anya Wed 10-Jun-15 08:41:08

Sorry i didn't make it clear. No family changing areas just single sex changing rooms.

shysal Wed 10-Jun-15 08:26:45

Most swimming pools have family changing rooms these days, which have large cubicles .Sometimes there are also single sex facilities, but many are completely mixed. It must be a situation that crops up all the time, so a phone call or visit might put your mind at rest. Enjoy the swimming

Anya Wed 10-Jun-15 08:02:48

I'm thinking of joining a small gym near us just to use their swimming pool. It's very quiet especially at the times I'd want to use it. But I have a second reason which is to teach my 8-year old GS to swim. He has had lessons in the past and went swimming with his school last term, and I feel he's just about ready to really get going now.

But the problem is the changing facilities. At 8 he's too old to get changed in the ladies changing room so would have to use the male changing rooms, by himself. He's quite capable of getting himself changed back into his outdoor clothes, but I'm not happy about him being by himself with strangers in that situation. Also given the fact it's very quiet he could be alone with just one other male. He's a very quiet, shy child and small for his age.

There was a thread on here not long ago about young boys using male toilets unsupervised, and I feel this is similar, but feel he would be even more vulnerable.

What do others think? Am I being over-protective?