Do you “walk funny”? I sure know that I do, whenever I try. Drop foot causes my left foot to drag and the whole effort is a struggle.
Mobility problems like this are a way of life of people with disabilities, however caused. My difficulties stem from multiple sclerosis but many of you may have Parkinson’s or a yet different disease.
Our walking issues tend to only be seen when we try to carry on as normal, and can be misunderstood. I have been mistaken for being drunk but, each time, a quick explanation that I have MS was enough.
Apparently, however, a similar explanation was not enough in one Halfords store. There, although he told the manager that he had Parkinson’s, she told him to leave. That is disgusting – and a terrible indictment of Halfords’ staff training on disability awareness.
This is how BBC News reported the story online:
Parkinson’s sufferer ejected from Halfords ‘for funny walk’
A man with Parkinson’s disease was told to leave a Halfords store for acting suspiciously by “walking funny”.
Chris Cartlidge, 51, was ejected from the shop in Trent Vale, Stoke-on-Trent, after his symptoms caused his leg to stiffen and drag on the floor.
He said when he told a shop assistant he had Parkinson’s, she replied: “I don’t care what you’ve got, I want you to leave the store.”
Halfords said it had “sincerely apologised” to him and his family.
Mr Cartlidge, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 10 years ago, said he had approached the shop assistant for help in finding some car parts in January.
Devastated and mortified
“I try to be as normal as possible but it’s really demeaning when people say things like that to me,” he said.
His daughter Katrina Cartlidge said she was “devastated and mortified” by the way her father was treated at the store on Springfields Retail Park.
“It’s hard to see him suffering like this,” she said, adding that he tried to “make the most of life” and remain as active as possible.
“I would never expect someone to treat my dad that way or anyone to be judged by that – by disability.”
A spokesperson for Halfords said its team “fell short of meeting our standards”.
“We are all very sorry for Mr Cartlidge’s experience and sincerely apologised to him and his family at the time for any embarrassment this misunderstanding caused.”
Whoa, ‘misunderstanding’? There was no misunderstanding. It was a complete lack of understanding of a person with a disability. Amazingly, even after she was told he had Parkinson’s disease, the store manager didn’t care and ordered him to leave. So, no misunderstanding – more a complete lack of judgment, lack of disability awareness, and lack of customer relations.
Benali Hamdache, campaign manager at Parkinson’s UK, said the charity is “calling for a little bit more awareness and a little bit more understanding”.
“We hope that Halfords can actually start by leading with an example and embrace our call to take on some training,” he added.
I fully support these views, Parkinson’s UK is really speaking for everyone with disabilities, but I must go further. Halfords needs to rigorously push disability awareness, ensure all staff have appropriate training, and monitor everyone’s adherence to it.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.
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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek medical care for any health issues and consult a doctor before starting a diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.