Eight in 10 disabled people face difficulties in bars

More than eight in 10 disabled people face challenges accessing pubs and bars, according to a recent survey.

The assessment, conducted by disability charity Leonard Cheshire, surveyed over 130 people online between October and November 2018.

The survey found that 86% face difficulties accessing pubs and bars. It also showed that 46% experience negative attitudes from staff and 35% witness negative attitudes from other customers because of their disability.

Leonard Cheshire is calling on all pubs and bars to “invite everyone in for a drink this Christmas”.

In addition to staffing issues, people with disabilities had difficulty with pub layouts, toilets, menus, bar heights and step-free access.

One respondent said in the survey: “High up bars mean I can’t get served because [staff] can’t see me.

“Layout of tables is often very difficult to navigate in a wheelchair or lack of lowered seating means I can’t get to a table.”

Leonard Cheshire wrote to three of the leading pub and bar firms, as well as contacting another online, to find out about their disabled customer facilities. The only respondent was UK pub chain Wetherspoons.

Wetherspoons spokesman Eddie Gerson said: “We are proud of the facilities that we offer to our customers with disabilities.

“Our aim is to make each and every one of them as welcome in our pubs as possible.

“We are especially proud of the Changing Places facilities in a number of our pubs which are very welcomed by the people and their families who need them.

“We are looking to add more Changing Places in our pubs in the near future.”

In addition, Leonard Cheshire said that a “culture change” is needed among customers who have an unseen disability.

Leonard Cheshire’s head of policy and campaigns Husna Mortuza said: “Pubs, bars and the public who use them need to do much more to allow disabled people to go out and socialise in the same way as non-disabled people.

“Pubs are part of our national tradition and nobody should be made to feel like they are not welcome.

“This isn’t just about drinking; pubs are a great way to get out and avoid social isolation.

“Disabled people shouldn’t miss out, during the holiday season or any other time of year.

“If pubs and bars take note, they also stand a chance to cash in on the £249 billion (US$314.1bn) that the disabled person market, also known as the ‘purple pound’, is worth.”

Earlier this month, the UK government confirmed it will recruit a food and drink champion to raise awareness of the need for improved access to venues, better customer service and staff training to “ensure that venues understand the needs of disabled consumers”.

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Author: Nicola Carruthers {authorlink}