Fear of abuse puts off almost half of customers with Crohn’s and colitis

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Stigma attached: 43% of people with Crohn’s or colitis said they have felt discrimination at pubs
Stigma attached: 43% of people with Crohn’s or colitis said they have felt discrimination at pubs

Related tags: Disabled customers

Questioning a healthy-looking customer for using an accessible toilet does more harm than good, according to charity Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

Some 93% of those surveyed by the charity believed challenging someone who does ‘not look disabled’ would be the right and fair thing to do – and 12% said they would directly make this query.

However, individuals with ‘invisible disabilities’, such as Crohn's or colitis, often feel scared to use accessible facilities because of discrimination – an apprehension that influences where they go to eat and drink out.

Those with invisible disabilities said they had experienced upsetting incidents accessing toilets at restaurants and pubs, most commonly verbal or physical abuse from other members of public or staff.

Nearly half (43%) people with Crohn’s or colitis said they have felt prevented from going to pubs because they were afraid of discrimination about their condition.

The charity reiterated its ‘Not Every Disability Is Visible’ campaign, which encourages businesses to place a sign with the phrase by their toilets, as well as training staff to understand invisible conditions.

Simple step

“It is a really simple step,” explained Andy McGuinness, the manager of the Crohn’s and colitis campaign.

He said: “A lot of stigma and discrimination comes from a lack of awareness. People think that Crohn's and colitis are minor conditions and they really aren't, when someone requests assistance they really do need it.”

A sign is a simple and cheap step but makes a fundamental difference to the experience of disabled customers, he said.

“You are at a pub more often and for a longer time [than at a restaurant], you need to be really comfortable in that area. If you know that you are in a comfortable environment where the resources that you may need at a short moment's notice, are available, you're going to visit them,” McGuiness explained.

Inclusive signs

More than eight in 10 people with Crohn's or colitis told the charity they felt more comfortable visiting venues with inclusive signs.

The campaign asks people to email national pub chain bosses to encourage them to install such signs, with 36,000 emails being sent to restaurant and pub CEOs so far.

Crohn’s & Colitis UK CEO Sarah Sleet added: “We know that if the public better understand the devastating symptoms of these conditions, they will be more considerate and supportive of people who feel too ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their Crohn’s or colitis.

“It is vitally important that everyone gets involved in the campaign to help increase understanding of the true impact of these conditions.”

Pubs can get involved through the campaign’s website.

Related topics: Health & safety

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