Disability group calls for pub 'culture change'

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Change needed: Disability group Leonard Cheshire said disabled customers were being put off going to pubs and bars
Change needed: Disability group Leonard Cheshire said disabled customers were being put off going to pubs and bars

Related tags: Disability

More than eight in 10 (86%) disabled people face difficulties in pubs and bars, according to research from a disability charity.

Leonard Cheshire said its survey proves the licensed trade still has a long way to go on making venues accessible and urged venues to invite everyone in for a drink this December.

Almost half of those surveyed (45%) said they experience negative attitudes from staff because of their disability while 35% said they have faced negative attitudes from fellow punters.

Unhelpful attitudes from staff, including security staff treating customers as a “health and security risk”, and inaccessible pub layouts, toilets​, menus, bar heights and step-free access, were primary problems cited by respondents.

Venue layouts

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One anonymous respondent described the difficulty of venue layouts and furnishings: “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,” they added.

Another said: “People stand looking at you, blocking the way. [You have] difficulty hearing what is being said.”

Respondents also described feeling dissuaded from visiting pubs and bars after sour past experiences and subsequently feeling left out from social occasions.

Customer attitudes

A "culture change" was needed among non-disabled customers as well as staff, particularly surrounding ‘invisible disabilities’​, the charity said.

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.

She added: “If pubs and bars take note, they also stand a chance to cash in on the £249 billion that the disabled person market, also known as the ‘purple pound’​, is worth.”

Leonard Cheshire said it had contacted four of the leading pub and bar companies for information about their disabled customer provisions, however only one (JD Wetherspoon) replied.

The group said it was encouraged to hear the pubco was looking to add more changing places in its pubs in the near future.

Related topics: Health & safety, Training

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