Cheltenham Music Festival Wheelchair user exposes discrimination on night out in viral Twitter thread

Cheltenham Music Festival Wheelchair user exposes discrimination on night out in viral Twitter thread

Cheltenham Music Festival

A wheelchair user has documented her experience of a night out in London to expose how she’s discriminated against in a viral Twitter thread.

In the series of tweets, journalist Lucy Webster recalls going to a club in Clapham called Aquum, which she chose because, she says, it is described on Google as being “accessible”. However, on arrival, she claims a bouncer told her she wasn’t allowed in “in [her] chair”.

“This is where it starts to get odd. The bouncer informs me that the physical access is fine, but the club is busy and he just wants to ‘keep me safe’.”

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Webster responded by assuring the bouncer that she’s used to being in busy environments and can take care of herself.

But another bouncer soon interfered and told her the music would be “too rowdy” for her, “as if, as a disabled woman, I can only listen to girly pop and, presumably, very sad songs.

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Cheltenham Music Festival 1/8

William Large was admitted in 1888, aged around seven and a half. His mother had died of tuberculosis the previous year, and his father was sent to the workhouse. According to records, the father’s ‘carelessness and cruelty to the child have caused the hip disease with which the little one is afflicted’. William was also deaf and had tuberculosis. He was trained within the print school at Stepney, and was able to secure employment as a printer in 1899

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 2/8

Fred Forty was born in 1875 in Cheltenham, into a ‘wretched home’. His mother died of tuberculosis, and his father, a shoemaker, was described as ‘drunken and totally unconcerned with his six children’. Fred had at least two operations on his cleft palate which were unsuccessful, and had only one eye as a result of an accident. He was admitted in 1888, aged 13. Fred died in 1895 and is buried at Tower Hamlets cemetery

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 3/8

Kate McLoughlin was born in 1882 in Nottingham, and was admitted to Barnardo’s at the age of seven by the local vicar. Her father had been in prison several times, and was in jail at the time. The family of five lived in one room which the local vicar described as, ‘the most utter squalor and filth’. It was ‘the very worst home’ he knew in his parish. Kate’s mother battled alcoholism, and while she was out drinking, her first child drowned in a bucket of water, and another was seriously burnt. When Kate was just a baby, she fell out of her mother’s arms, and subsequently suffered hip disease and deformity. After care and training in the homes, she went into domestic service in 1905

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 4/8

Alfred Smith was born in 1875 in the town of Rugeley, Staffordshire. His father died of diabetes nine years later, leaving seven children. His mother was unable to work due to abscesses on her legs, and was receiving parish relief. Alfred had his right leg amputated when he was just 13. Two years later, he was admitted to the homes, and received an apprenticeship in the Tailors workshop. In 1895, he was working as a tailor in Surrey

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 5/8

Thomas Marks was born in Rhymney, Caerphilly, in 1885. He was orphaned at a young age when both parents died as a result of heavy drinking. When Thomas was just eight, he ‘had both his legs cut off from the trunk by an engine running over him’. Despite this, he managed to scrape a living on the street as a pickpocket until he was admitted to Barnardo’s at the age of 15. He was given an apprenticeship in the tailoring workshop and subsequently found employment as a tailor on leaving the homes. By 1899 he had his own business in Wales

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 6/8

Herbert Harris was admitted in March 1892 aged 18. His father died from tuberculosis three months after Herbert was born and his mother remarried a porter who worked at the Millwall Dock Company. Herbert was working at paper mills in Millwall when both his hands were drawn into some machinery. He spent three months in hospital where his arms needed to be amputated – one above, the other below the elbow. His mother received £50 from Herbert’s employer which was used to stock her shop. The admission report says that it appears that none of the money was spent on behalf of the boy, apart from buying a barrow for him on which he might sell fruit. Herbert’s aunt claimed his mother and her husband brutally ill-treated him, that the husband had severely beat both Herbert and his mother. And in his admissions report, was described as, ‘civil-mannered’ and ‘in great fear of his mother and her husband’. Herbert died in August 1896 and is buried in Tower Hamlets cemetery

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 7/8

Elizabeth Lines was born in 1884 in Deptford, London. Her father died of tuberculosis three years later. A fall during infancy is believed to have caused abscesses on her knee-joint, which made it necessary to amputate her leg when she was just 19 months old. She was admitted aged eight, and received training which helped her secure work as a dressmaker in Port Talbot by 1905

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 8/8

Alfred Collings was born in November 1895 in Plymouth and admitted in January 1905 aged nine. His father died from pleurisy and pneumonia in 1901, with his mother receiving £10 insurance money. Soon after the death Alfred suffered a fall which led to the bone in his foot becoming diseased. Unfortunately the problem wasn’t identified or treated for a long time and eventually the parish doctor ordered him to the infirmary, where his foot was amputated. The admission report says: ‘Alfred is of a specially bright, lively and mischievous disposition and has been petted and spoilt by the men in the infirmary. He was perpetually playing pranks’

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 1/8

William Large was admitted in 1888, aged around seven and a half. His mother had died of tuberculosis the previous year, and his father was sent to the workhouse. According to records, the father’s ‘carelessness and cruelty to the child have caused the hip disease with which the little one is afflicted’. William was also deaf and had tuberculosis. He was trained within the print school at Stepney, and was able to secure employment as a printer in 1899

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 2/8

Fred Forty was born in 1875 in Cheltenham, into a ‘wretched home’. His mother died of tuberculosis, and his father, a shoemaker, was described as ‘drunken and totally unconcerned with his six children’. Fred had at least two operations on his cleft palate which were unsuccessful, and had only one eye as a result of an accident. He was admitted in 1888, aged 13. Fred died in 1895 and is buried at Tower Hamlets cemetery

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 3/8

Kate McLoughlin was born in 1882 in Nottingham, and was admitted to Barnardo’s at the age of seven by the local vicar. Her father had been in prison several times, and was in jail at the time. The family of five lived in one room which the local vicar described as, ‘the most utter squalor and filth’. It was ‘the very worst home’ he knew in his parish. Kate’s mother battled alcoholism, and while she was out drinking, her first child drowned in a bucket of water, and another was seriously burnt. When Kate was just a baby, she fell out of her mother’s arms, and subsequently suffered hip disease and deformity. After care and training in the homes, she went into domestic service in 1905

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 4/8

Alfred Smith was born in 1875 in the town of Rugeley, Staffordshire. His father died of diabetes nine years later, leaving seven children. His mother was unable to work due to abscesses on her legs, and was receiving parish relief. Alfred had his right leg amputated when he was just 13. Two years later, he was admitted to the homes, and received an apprenticeship in the Tailors workshop. In 1895, he was working as a tailor in Surrey

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 5/8

Thomas Marks was born in Rhymney, Caerphilly, in 1885. He was orphaned at a young age when both parents died as a result of heavy drinking. When Thomas was just eight, he ‘had both his legs cut off from the trunk by an engine running over him’. Despite this, he managed to scrape a living on the street as a pickpocket until he was admitted to Barnardo’s at the age of 15. He was given an apprenticeship in the tailoring workshop and subsequently found employment as a tailor on leaving the homes. By 1899 he had his own business in Wales

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 6/8

Herbert Harris was admitted in March 1892 aged 18. His father died from tuberculosis three months after Herbert was born and his mother remarried a porter who worked at the Millwall Dock Company. Herbert was working at paper mills in Millwall when both his hands were drawn into some machinery. He spent three months in hospital where his arms needed to be amputated – one above, the other below the elbow. His mother received £50 from Herbert’s employer which was used to stock her shop. The admission report says that it appears that none of the money was spent on behalf of the boy, apart from buying a barrow for him on which he might sell fruit. Herbert’s aunt claimed his mother and her husband brutally ill-treated him, that the husband had severely beat both Herbert and his mother. And in his admissions report, was described as, ‘civil-mannered’ and ‘in great fear of his mother and her husband’. Herbert died in August 1896 and is buried in Tower Hamlets cemetery

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 7/8

Elizabeth Lines was born in 1884 in Deptford, London. Her father died of tuberculosis three years later. A fall during infancy is believed to have caused abscesses on her knee-joint, which made it necessary to amputate her leg when she was just 19 months old. She was admitted aged eight, and received training which helped her secure work as a dressmaker in Port Talbot by 1905

Barnardo’s

Cheltenham Music Festival 8/8

Alfred Collings was born in November 1895 in Plymouth and admitted in January 1905 aged nine. His father died from pleurisy and pneumonia in 1901, with his mother receiving £10 insurance money. Soon after the death Alfred suffered a fall which led to the bone in his foot becoming diseased. Unfortunately the problem wasn’t identified or treated for a long time and eventually the parish doctor ordered him to the infirmary, where his foot was amputated. The admission report says: ‘Alfred is of a specially bright, lively and mischievous disposition and has been petted and spoilt by the men in the infirmary. He was perpetually playing pranks’

Barnardo’s

“I feel my discrimination hackles raise. I ask if she’s seriously saying this to me. She is.”

Webster explained how she told the bouncers she felt discriminated against, to which they suggested she enter the venue alone so that she could see how unsuitable it would be for her.

At this point, Webster and her friends give up and decide to go to fast food chain KFC “because sometimes you just give up and get chicken,” she writes.

“KFC is of course not accessible, so I wait outside and my mates go in. But I am a magnet for drunk people. I am pointed at, laughed at. A man asks if he can spin my chair. I am done. I shed some tears in the taxi. I eat a lot of chicken.”

In a subsequent tweet, Webster added that her colleague asked Aquum for a response and they have since apologised and said they plan to retrain their third-party staff.

Webster’s tweets have been shared thousands of times since they were posted on Monday, prompting outrage among commenters at how she was treated.

“I’m sorry. It’s disgusting that life is so hard for wheelchair users,” wrote one person.

“Thanks for sharing,” added another. “So powerful to know as much as we have improved on attitudes to disability as a nation and world, there is so much more work to do.”

Speaking to The Independent, a spokesperson for Aquum said: “We do not tolerate any form of discrimination against any individual or group. We operate a non-discriminatory policy and we place a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion. 

“Accordingly, we take any complaint of discrimination very seriously and will thoroughly investigate the matter and take the necessary actions to ensure that such an incident never happens again.”

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