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Hospitality sector must do better in the area of accessibility awareness, says disability advocate

Mama Shelter

A disability advocate and wheelchair user demands ‘better accessibility awareness’ across hospitality venues after falling in a London hotel shower.

Jennie Berry was staying at Mama Shelter London. She fell when her bathroom’s accessible shower seat broke and could not reach the emergency alarm because it was tied up out of reach, reported Boutique Hotelier.

Berry said when she finally managed to get to a second alarm, staff arrived 20 minutes later, but they didn’t know how to lift her off the floor properly.

Berry, a community engagement manager for accessibility app Sociability, told BBC Radio Tees, “The shower chair completely came off the wall, leaving me on the floor – I hit my head as I went down.

“I’m a wheelchair user and I am paralysed from the waist down meaning I am unable to get myself back on the chair unassisted.

“I looked up and the red cord was tied to the ceiling so there was no way of reaching that one.

“Thankfully, there was a secondary one tied around a grab rail, which I was able to reach and kind of wiggle and keep yanking on until I was able to unhook it.”

“When they [staff] finally came they didn’t really know what to do, they had no manual handling training, there was no equipment to help get me up,” she added.

“It took three staff members 20 minutes to finally get me up, but obviously I was naked, I was soaking wet, and everything was just a bit of a mess.

“Thankfully I am not really hurt, I just have quite a lot of bruising on my arms of where they were dragging me and pulling me.”

The Mama Shelter London in Shoreditch apologised, saying it would commit to extensive training in disability awareness.

“We want to apologise unreservedly that this unfortunate incident occurred at our hotel that caused Jennie Berry understandable distress.

“We will be checking all facilities more rigorously in future from a maintenance point of view and increase the frequency of staff training for disability etiquette.

“We pride ourselves in being a wholly-inclusive brand and will redouble our efforts to fulfil this, “ a spokesperson said.

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