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Disability Campaigner Stranded After Hotel Shower Fall

August 12, 2021

A disability campaigner was left naked and feeling vulnerable when she fell in a hotel bathroom where an emergency alarm cord was tied up out of reach.

Jennie Berry, a wheelchair user from Hartlepool, lay on the floor for 20 minutes after the accessible shower seat broke in her room on Saturday.

The 28-year-old managed to “wriggle” to a second alarm but when staff turned up they were unaware of how to lift her.

The Mama Shelter London apologised and said it would increase training.

Ms Berry, a community engagement manager for accessibility app Sociability, has called for more disability awareness in the hotel industry.

“The shower chair completely came off the wall, leaving me on the floor – I hit my head as I went down,” she told BBC Radio Tees.

“I’m a wheelchair user and I am paralysed from the waist down meaning I am unable to get myself back on the chair unassisted.

“I looked up and the red cord was tied to the ceiling so there was no way of reaching that one.

“Thankfully, there was a secondary one tied around a grab rail, which I was able to reach and kind of wiggle and keep yanking on until I was able to unhook it.”

She said hotel staff then rang her room but she was unable to answer as she was stuck in the bathroom.

“When they finally came they didn’t really know what to do, they had no manual handling training, there was no equipment to help get me up,” she added.

“It took three staff members 20 minutes to finally get me up, but obviously I was naked, I was soaking wet, and everything was just a bit of a mess.

“Thankfully I am not really hurt, I just have quite a lot of bruising on my arms of where they were dragging me and pulling me.”

Ms Berry posted on Instagram about the ordeal to highlight “the harsh reality” many disabled people often face.

“It’s not just about the actual equipment itself, it’s more so about the aftermath of how vulnerable you feel in that scenario,” she added.

“Not only am I on the floor and unable to be as independent as I usually am, it’s more so being on your own, being naked in front of strangers and them having to manhandle me.

“I just felt like a dead-weighted puppet – just being lifted about with absolutely no way of helping myself – just helpless.”

‘Apologise unreservedly’

Ms Berry has campaigned previously asking businesses to stop tying up the cords designed to help people.

Ms Berry said: “Often it just gets brushed under the carpet as if people are making a mountain out of a molehill, when in actual fact, the situation that so many disabled people find themselves in is really severe and it has a lasting effect on many people.

“I think change is coming – just when, I do not know.”

A spokesperson for Mama Shelter London, in Shoreditch, said: “We want to apologise unreservedly that this unfortunate incident occurred at our hotel that caused Jennie Berry understandable distress.

“We will be checking all facilities more rigorously in future from a maintenance point of view and increase the frequency of staff training for disability etiquette.

“We pride ourselves in being a wholly-inclusive brand and will redouble our efforts to fulfil this.”

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