glastonbury accessible toilets invisible disabilities

Glastonbury toilets

I was at Glastonbury this year and for once, it was HOT!! The heat was tough but I drank plenty of (non alcoholic) fluids to stop the dreaded dehydration and having a few bag changes as the hot weather didn’t do my ostomy bag much good!

I unfortunately had a crap experience (!) with the toilets, and it was something I shared on my Facebook page, but realised I hadn’t talked about it over here.  I know that not all of you follow my social media and thought I would share it here.

“Tonight my bag suddenly filled fast, we walked away from the stone circle as we were waiting for the fireworks in search of a toilet FAST! You know those bag fills where it suddenly feels like it will pop off?!

We saw an accessible portaloo and a staff member said “this is for disabled people”. I said “yep I know thank you”

He asked if I was staying in ‘disabled camping’ and I said no. He said “you know these toilets aren’t for anyone other than disabled people right?” I said “yes I do, do you want me to tell you what my disability is?”

My husband said “you know that it’s not just wheelchair users don’t you?” My son pointed at the sign on the door that said “‘Not all disabilities are visible” 

glastonbury accessible toilets invisible disabilities

He said “lots of people might try and take advantage!” I said “do you want me to show you?!”

He eventually let me in and it was vile. Shit and piss everywhere, pitch black. I had to ask my husband to come in and hold a torch and I sorted my bag out.

We came out to him complaining to other staff members that people who weren’t in disabled camping shouldn’t be using the loos. I was mortified.

My husband went up and asked if there was a problem, he pointed out the sign and told them I had a disability and just because I wasn’t in a wheelchair didn’t mean I didn’t have extra needs. That we weren’t in disabled camping as he is staff so were in a staff campsite. They said they have to protect the loos from people who just want to use them.

Eventually another staff member said “do you have a colostomy bag?” I said yes ( then wasn’t the time to split hairs!) and he explained that I could speak to someone and get a wristband and also gave me the door code.

I’ve had to speak to a group of 6 people then another 2 to get use a toilet tonight. It’s embarrassing and humiliating. If I’d gone up in a chair and not had a wristband they would not have treated me like that.

And to have a guarded, locked toilet that was so disgusting is ridiculous. Having a larger cubicle does not an accessible toilet make!!! 

glastonbury accessible toilets invisible disabilities

A wheelchair user would have struggled massively to transfer themselves to that loo as it was filled to the brim with shit and the sides were covered in piss and shit. It was so dark in there that I couldn’t see a thing and needed someone to come and hold a torch!

I’ve done festivals for the past 20 years, I know what toilets are like, I’m no princess and totally get that they’re vile. But if you’re guarding and locking a loo and making such a fuss about protection of disabled people, perhaps make that toilet truly accessible. We can and should do MUCH better than this.”


I know that I really should have organised myself before, but I can’t help thinking that it really should only take some common sense.  I understand that people have a job to do, but going to an accessible toilet isn’t some kind of luxurious experience that people are going to lie about, surely?

There seems to be an obsession with the checking of disabled people and their toilet habits, so many questions to just go and have a shit and till you have stood with crap running down your legs waiting for another human to decide whether you should be allowed to go to the toilet, then it may be hard to understand just how humiliating, upsetting and degrading it is.

I will never stop shouting about this…


Sam xx

7 replies
  1. Suzanne Wheeler
    Suzanne Wheeler says:

    I understand fully Sam. I think you are so brave to go to a festival as my life has stopped as I know I will never be the same again. I live alone and my life is getting worse. I had a temporary osteomy bag for 7 weeks following rectal cancer which was hell even though I expected to have a bag all my life and a barbie butt. But 5 years on going to the loo isn’t easy as I had my rectum removed and I get leakage and when I need to go I have to go quickly and the smell and pain plus anxiety I just can’t explain. I swing from dihorrea to constipation which is very painful and I have to lay on my side in bed until the movicol works which can sometimes be a couple of days. When it does work I have found myself covered in shit and I hate myself being this way. I try to talk to Drs and nurses but I gave up and carry on leading this very lonely life. I feel I do not have the right to complain as avoided an osteomy bag and I don’t count or have the problems you have but I do. This has made me practically house bound and agoraphobic. I don’t even feel I have the right to say all this. The tiredness is overwhelming. But I do understand how you feel so much. Keep campaigning as poo shouldn’t be taboo.


  2. Rinse
    Rinse says:

    I hope you have put in an official complaint Sam. Write to Michael Eavis. This isnt the 60s any more. There is no reason why they cant have decent portaloos with electric light and a generator, and somebody checking for cleanliness every couple of hours.

  3. pauline
    pauline says:

    It’s the same in Australia at outdoor concerts. The portaloos are usually disgusting and there is nowhere to put anything to allow ease of emptying the bag let alone having to change it. I find disabled toilets dirty in general, shopping centres, pubs. I have a disabled toilet access card given to me from my stoma association but I don’t use the disabled toilets often. We are also entitled to a master key that opens all public disabled toilets. My complaint is the nice clean toilets are usually modern and don’t have an exposed cistern! It looks good but it’s impractical for ostomates. I need somewhere to put my water bottle and tissues etc.

  4. Julie
    Julie says:

    This is shameful. It should never happen in these ‘enlightned’ days. But still it does.
    I think the problem lies in the fact that they are not allowed to call them ‘disabled’ toilets anymore. I cannot for the life of me remember the (‘politically-correct’) term but it implies that all toilets are available for all people to use, disability or not.
    I recently had to use the toilet in my local branch of a national supermarket. As I have colonic inertia I have to rely on laxatives to make my bowels work and they are very unpredictable. Walking often speeds up the process…..So on this particular morning I waited outside the locked ‘disabled’ toilet. A staff member emerged. I had to ask her ‘are you disabled?’ She told me she was pregnant and that the store advised her to use the facility. But all the time I had been standing waiting for her to use the loo, my unreliable bowel leaked through my ‘nappy’ and into my clothing, and left me in tears. How can this be right?
    I am awaiting Loop Ileostomy surgery and cannot wait to be free of nappies. But I guess I won’t be free of the ‘disabled or not’ attitudes…..
    You are one my of inspirations, Sam, keep up the great work you do.

  5. Katy
    Katy says:

    We were at festivals this summer as well… fortunately we didn’t face any disgusting toilets but then my son didn’t have to do any changes so it was fairly straight forward. However we did face a disgusting middle aged group of women whilst I waited for my son to finish using the disabled toilet, , who said out of ear shot, but loud enough for my son to hear “urgghhh it really takes the p*ss when people do that” Followed by a disgusted look in our direction. I can only assume they looked at a young able bodied boy coming out of a disabled toilet, and assumed I’d sent him in there to avoid the queue! It took all my power to not shout them down, but I respected my sons wishes, who said “i always get it mum”

  6. Judith Hunt
    Judith Hunt says:

    I love your attitude, don’t ever stop using that wonderful voice of yours, it is a gift you are using to make the world aware of just how difficult life truly is with a disability, whatever it may be, and that should make all the doogooders sit up and listen and make access which is clean and sanitary a must for everyone….:)


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