Referee given priority over disabled children at Horsham leisure centre

Referee given priority over disabled children

Referee given priority over disabled children

First published in News by

Three children with severe learning difficulties had to be changed on a leisure centre floor – because specialist facilities were being used by a football referee.

Six children aged between six and 12 were visiting Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre near Horsham to use its specialist sensory room as part of a trip organised by Mid Sussex disability charity Kangaroos.

Lorna Herrett, the charity’s activities officer, said: “We ended up changing three very medically vulnerable young people on the floor of a changing room. It was drafty and not very clean.

“As carers we had to lift them down to the floor and then back up into their chairs, risking injury to ourselves.

“There were other rooms that could have been used for the football match changing, rather than this vital facility.

“It is a basic human right for everyone to be able to, and have access to a toilet, and I feel our children were badly let down."


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Parent Rachel Mason said: “Changing Places toilets ensure my child can be changed with the dignity and respect she deserves.

“However this was taken away from her when she was denied access to this facility.

“Having to change the children on the floor left my daughter and her friends at risk of infection and illness.”

Tim Bolton, contract manager for DC Leisure, said that the room was regularly used as a referee’s room for County FA games and he apologised for the double booking.

He added: “Over the last six years we have improved the facilities so much, especially with access and activities for disabled people, so it is a shame that this one incident which we didn’t get right has been picked up on.

“The manager has now put actions in place so that the area cannot be booked out when it is being used for referee’s room in the future.”

But his response has disappointed the charity.

Mrs Herrett said: “Changing places toilets have been put in place for disabled children and adults to use.

“Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre has been given the money for this changing facility to use for this use, not other uses.

“Anyone who needs that facility should be able to use it at any time, regardless if they are guests at the leisure centre.”

Comments (6)

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9:35am Sun 30 Mar 14

Frank28 says...

A timely reminder for such establishments to familiarise themselves with the Equality Act.
A timely reminder for such establishments to familiarise themselves with the Equality Act. Frank28
  • Score: 18

9:58am Sun 30 Mar 14

brighton bluenose says...

Am I reading the managements comment correctly that they will continue to let this facility be used by referees and then wont allow it to be double-booked by disabled kids??!!! Truly shocking!!!
Am I reading the managements comment correctly that they will continue to let this facility be used by referees and then wont allow it to be double-booked by disabled kids??!!! Truly shocking!!! brighton bluenose
  • Score: 18

10:02am Sun 30 Mar 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

Perhaps the football clubs and referee could organise some fund raising events for the kids.
Perhaps the football clubs and referee could organise some fund raising events for the kids. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 15

11:09am Sun 30 Mar 14

fredaj says...

Why is the charity disappointed with "we are sorry and will make sure it does not happen again"?

What exactly is it that they are after? What do they require, apart from a time machine, to see their complaint resolved?
Why is the charity disappointed with "we are sorry and will make sure it does not happen again"? What exactly is it that they are after? What do they require, apart from a time machine, to see their complaint resolved? fredaj
  • Score: -9

12:04pm Sun 30 Mar 14

From beer to uncertainty says...

Generally speaking, why can't referees have sex, or whatever it is they do that requires such privacy, somewhere else? Surely this must be a national problem if the disgusting things I so often hear shouted by football crowds are correct.
Generally speaking, why can't referees have sex, or whatever it is they do that requires such privacy, somewhere else? Surely this must be a national problem if the disgusting things I so often hear shouted by football crowds are correct. From beer to uncertainty
  • Score: 3

3:40pm Sun 30 Mar 14

The Real Phil says...

The manager needs replacing, urgently.
The manager needs replacing, urgently. The Real Phil
  • Score: 3

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