The online ostomy community is generally a positive and supportive place to be, but when one ostomate is offended or insulted, it can lead to other ostomates coming out in force to show solidarity.; think back to #BagsOutForSeven in January 2019, when Seven Bridges, a 10-year-old boy from Kentucky, US, died by suicide after reportedly being bullied for his chronic bowel condition and colostomy.
This has been the case this August, after a man with a stoma was declined access to the water rides at seaside resort company Butlin’s in Skegness. He posted in an online support group, understandably angry about it. He was told by multiple staff that it is company policy not to allow those with a stoma on the water rides, such as slides and rapids. He said: ‘I was left standing at the front of the queue as people filed past, as if I’d done something wrong.’
The stoma community rallied on social media to demand a response from Butlin’s, which repeatedly said that it sincerely apologised for any upset caused and that it does allow guests with colostomy bags to enjoy all of the features in the pool. It also said that it would be reviewing its procedures and that it had reached out to Colostomy UK for advice.
Another Twitter user then added that they had spoken to Butlin’s and had been told it has decided to allow ostomates on the slides and other attraction only if they wear a T-shirt over their pouch. Butlin’s replied to this tweet to reassure ostomates that there is no need to cover up. However, the company has so far failed to comment on whether any disciplinary action will be taken with the multiple staff involved in the incident.
We live in an era in which companies often talk the talk about equality and diversity, yet many fail to actually walk the walk. It appears that holiday companies need to invest more time and effort into training all of their staff to be clear on accessibility procedures. This will make sure they do not put themselves, their staff and their guests in the position of seeming to discriminate against a disability in the future.
Sahara Fleetwood-Beresford reader