Publicado por: Ricardo Shimosakai | 14/10/2014

Disabled mum from Clarendon Street, Dover, left humiliated after Dover Leisure Centre staff ask for proof of disability


Sarah Pearson was brought to tears in front of her five-year-old sonSarah Pearson was brought to tears in front of her five-year-old son

A disabled mum from Dover says she was humiliated by Dover Leisure Centre when staff demanded proof of her disability.

Sarah Pearson, 35, of Clarendon Street, was going swimming at the centre with her mother-in-law Elaine and her five-year-old son Mika last Wednesday.

When she asked for the usual concession, she claims staff members asked her to prove her level of disability before reducing her to tears and making her feel like a fraudster.

The staff said they would only accept a letter from the Department of Working Pensions which states which level of disability payments she receives.

She said: “I’ve never experienced anything like that before.

“I was brought to tears in front of my five-year-old son, and as we were leaving he said, ‘They were nasty to mummy because she’s disabled.’ That hurt a lot.”

Mrs Pearson showed staff her walking stick, morphine patch and offered to show them her blue badge but claims they would not accept it.

She said: “I don’t carry private documents like that around with me and I shouldn’t have to.”

She was eventually admitted into the centre but explained she was utterly humiliated by the incident.

“I can appreciate some people may try and get money off sometimes but it was disabled discrimination. I’ve never experienced anything like that before.

“I don’t have a tattoo on me to say I’m disabled. Do I have to wear a badge permanently to let people know?”

Mrs Pearson takes 30mg of morphine a day through a patch on her arm. This is because she has difficulty walking and is often in chronic pain.

She became disabled after an epidural left her with tendon damage to her pelvis and hips as well as spinal problems, and swimming offers her a welcome relief from the daily struggle.

Now she is speaking out against the leisure centre and calling for staff to be given extra training on how to treat disabled people.

She said: “It’s for every other disabled person in the community as I’m sure this won’t have been the first time.”

Mrs Pearson, a former carer, is also on the committee for the Dover District Disability Association which aims to give people with disabilities a voice.

The Dover mum explained she was offered a free swimming session by Kevin Fordham, deputy managing director at Your Leisure, but says she never wants to return.

Mr Fordham said: “I have spoken with Sarah and it is very regrettable she feels her disability was not properly recognised, for which I have apologised.

“While I believe this is an isolated occurrence I have committed to review the identification requirements in order to access our concessionary pricing scheme and to also provide refresher disability awareness training for employees.

“I also expressed my desire for Sarah to return to our facilities so we can demonstrate that we really do care about disabled people.”

Source: Kent Online


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