Skelmersdale crowned UK capital for Toilet Twinning
Skelmersdale is about to be crowned the UK’s first Toilet Twinned Town – in recognition of townsfolk’s tireless fundraising in the throne room
The West Lancashire town has picked up the prestigious award after topping the charts for UK towns pulling together to flush away poverty and twin local toilets with latrines in poor countries. The accolade is to be awarded on Sunday 18 January by the charity initiative Toilet Twinning, which encourages people to ‘twin their loo’ and fund a latrine in a poor country.
Skem, as it is known locally, has long been on a roll. For several years now, local churches, schools, companies and community groups have been twinning not only their own toilets but also other people’s, through what they call ‘guerrilla twinning’. Once a toilet is twinned, it receives a certificate with its twin’s photo and GPS coordinates.
The drive behind the Toilet Twinning revolution locally and head of Skem’s Privy Council has been Rev Chris Spittle, vicar of St Paul’s Church.
‘Toilet Twinning has really captured the imagination of the churches in Skem, and those whom we’ve shared the idea with have loved it too,’ says Rev Spittle. ‘It’s been great to see churches, schools, care homes, businesses, shops, pubs, community centres, our mayor and MP all agreeing to receive a toilet twin. It’s a fun way to make a difference and tackle a really serious global issue.’
He first introduced his church to Toilet Twinning during harvest in 2011 and set them a target of twinning all four toilets in the church – using a toilet as a collecting bowl. In fact, they far exceeded their goal, raising enough to twin two latrines and two school toilet blocks in Burundi.
Since then, they have twinned toilets in many local venues, as selected in a church members’ ballot. These include: a local supermarket, The Jungle soft play area, the Greenhill Community Centre and three local primary schools. They have also presented twinning certificates to MP Rosie Cooper and the Mayor of West Lancashire, Cllr Doreen Stephenson.
Oaks, a sister congregation in the Tanhouse area, has also twinned its own toilet, and several others.
Earlyin 2014 Rev Spittle promoted Toilet Twinning more widely, to other Churches Together congregations, sparking a toilet chain reaction which resulted in many toilet twins across town.
Toilet Twinning CEO Lorraine Kingsley will present the Toilet Twinned Town award at a special gathering of churches, civic officials and toilet twinners on Sunday January 18th, at the Ecumenical Centre, Northway. She said the accolade had been created to recognise those communities who went above and beyond in their fundraising.
‘We have singled out Skelmersdale for this award, the first in our five-year history, because so many different groups and individuals came together as a community to help flush away poverty. It’s very much how we work abroad too, bringing people together to make change happen.
‘We joke about loos but toilets are literally lifesavers in the places where we work. Skem can be proud that its twins have changed many lives. It’s set the bar very high for other fundraising towns.’
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