On the 8th December Paralympian Anne Wafula-Strike was forced to wet herself after the train she was was on disabled toilet was out of use. When this story broke on the news sites I was extremely angered and appalled with how this lady was treated, something that is basic human nature resulted in a lady being humiliated and stripped of her dignity. But this may be weird to some people but I wasn’t shocked at all with what happened. As a person who’s in a wheelchair due to scoliosis and monoplegia I’ve had several occasions where the places I’ve been have not had accommodating disabled toilets. This lady speaking out about her story has made me realise that if we don’t all speak out – nothing will change.
So the next stories are about disabled toilets that wasn’t accommodated to basic human standards.
Last summer I was attending a family day out – put on by our local council and mayor. Me and some of my family was doing a bit of shopping – before attending – down our local shopping area when I really needed a wee ( I know TMI but you’ve gotta be honest. ). First shop who came to mind was McDonald’s so we went in and was immediately received with the disabled toilets being “out of order”, I began to panic as I didn’t know anywhere else where a disabled toilet was located, to be honest I was terrified I was going to wet myself – ( as I have kidney problems. ) So my family were helping to calm me down when I saw toilets in a little block outside, you had to insert 20p into the door to use but hey I was desperate. We waited a good 15 mins but nobody was coming out the occupied toilets, so you can imagine the sheer terror I had at the thought of wetting myself in public! Sadly the area I live in isn’t great and I found out the people in the toilets were doing drugs, so they didn’t care about a little disabled girl with kidney problems ending up having a accident in public – because they were occupying toilets. So that fear was awful, that humiliation was already creeping up on me. As I knew the inevitable would happen if I couldn’t find a toilet, luckily we came up to a local pub. My family went in to ask if we could use their toilet and hallelujah the land lady said we could use her toilets but she didn’t have a disabled toilet or a ramp. So I had to be picked up and helped inside to the toilets, the lovely lady said she would have got some men to help lift my wheelchair up the stairs but as I have a battery power wheelchair it’s incredibly heavy and I was also very ashamed that I had to be resulted to this begging. But without that lovely lady helping I would have, no doubt about it wet myself in public. I was so embarrassed and angered that something so necessary to humans wasn’t available to me, all I keep thinking is why aren’t disabled toilets a priority as able bodied toilets? I can understand that sometimes things aren’t smooth running and that toilets do mess up but most times it’s because of people’s pure laziness!
This leads on to another story about another McDonald’s disabled toilets down inRomford. Where they shut the able bodied male and female toilets at a certain time so that everyone is made to use the disabled toilet! When I asked why they do this,I was told “it’s less hassle to clean one toilet then three or four that are in the male and females.” I was absolutely disgusted as when I went to use the disabled toilet, people were messing around with the safety handles and the emergency cord. The toilet was absolutely disgusting I couldn’t even get in there, as there was sick on floor and not to mention the ungodly sight of the toilet basin. But once again it’s pure laziness and no common sense. There is a reason why disabled people need toilets, as we need specialised equipment and help in these toilets but then for it all to be wrecked because this fast food brand don’t want to employ more cleaning staff, so they rather pay out loads more money fixing the disabled toilet than actually solve the actual issue! I don’t understand how a company can think that’s okay. Amazingly this story then leads on to the last of many stories I have – As I could not use the disabled toilet in McDonald’s, I decided to wait until I was in the nightclub before going to the toilet. But to my horror as I wheeled into the club my path to my toilet was blocked due to this venue having live bands playing. So I went with my brother to ask how I could get to my toilet and I was told “I’d have to wait, until the live bands were finished playing” – as they was no other path my wheelchair could get round, so once again I’m plagued by the fear I was going to wet myself in front of all these people and my brother. But I waited and didn’t drink anything for that hour, which is bad for someone with kidney issues but it couldn’t be avoided. More drink, more bladder reflexes, as I was waiting – the manager of the club came up and said “I’m sorry we blocked the path, we didn’t think we’d have someone like you…” I interrupted him and said “someone like me? you mean a disabled person?” he replied with “yes….” I proceeded to tell him that I had been to this club before and that I know of other wheelchair users coming to this club, to be honest that shut him down and he apologised again. But apologising doesn’t mean anything, unless you leave learning something.
Disabled toilets are needed, it’s not something you can mess with. We all have the right to keep our dignity but some reason people feel the need to strip disabled people of their rights and it’s so frustrating. As I said earlier if we don’t speak up, we don’t get nowhere – already the press is slowing down on this matter. Being disabled is not an option for us, we didn’t ask for this to happen to us but life is hard enough without having that fear of not being able to find a place with working disabled toilets. I tend to not travel on trains but the problem is everywhere, whether it’sdisabled train toilets, McDonald’s disabled toilets etc. We have the radar schemewhich should be made effective, sadly we have to pay for a key but if it meant the disabled toilets would be locked to able bodied people, I’d pay for the radar key multiple times if I had to – just to know that I wouldn’t end up being humiliated by human nature.
Maybe if the world was more understanding and open – disabled people like me, wouldn’t feel so terrified to leave the house all the time. It’s incredibly hard losing your independence but for it all to be made more difficult doing basic human things is damn right disgusting.
As said previously this blog post was inspired by the event that happened to Anne Wafula-Strike. I’m going to link some of the news articles down below and also some helpful disability websites, where you can find help and support.
Remember to speak up for what you believe in,
Never back down because it’s inconvenient to someone else.
We all need to learn and accept diversity for this world to grow.