‘JD Sports made me feel worthless’
Paralympic hopeful told disabled changing room was being used for storage
A PARALYMPIC hopeful Lizzie Williams was left ‘absolutely disgusted’ when the manager of the JD Sports store, in Uxbridge, refused to open a disabled changing room being used as storage space.
Brunel University student Lizzie Williams was shopping at the sports retailer in the intu Uxbridge shopping centre on Saturday January 21 when she attempted to try on an item of clothing.
A member of staff told the 21-year-old that the changing room was locked because it was being used for shop storage, including mannequins.
Miss Williams, who is studying sport science at Brunel, asked to speak to the manager, who refused to clear the changing room so she could change.
The international-level wheelchair racer posted on Facebook the day of the incident: “Absolutely disgusted by the JD Sports store in Uxbridge.
“They’ve filled and locked the disabled accessible changing room with mannequins, telling me I can’t use it.
“I asked to speak to the manager because, quite frankly, that’s bang out of order.
“Manager says ‘we don’t have enough storage to put everything, do you expect me to take everything out?’
“She refused anything then away.
“Rudeness and discrimination at its finest. Sort it out JD Sports.”
After sharing the story with her 5,000 Facebook followers, the post was shared more than 200 times.
Miss Williams, originally from Worthing in Sussex, is hoping to to do walked compete in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
She said that after upsetting ordeals in the past, she decided this was the final straw and wants shops to improve in helping people with disabilities.
Miss Williams told the Gazette: “I’ve had experiences in the past from stores, restaurants and other public places where there’s been no access even into the buildings, no accessible toilet, no accessible changing room and no lifts.
“On this occasion it sparked something within me and I realised not enough is being done to fight this, it’s almost become so normal that we just expect it and many disabled people just accept that they can’t access everything like able bodied people can.
“I want to challenge that.”
Miss Williams said that the manager did not understand why it would be important for the only accessible changing room to be available.
She now wants to work with shops to show them where improvements can be made, saying: “The fact the she refused to do anything made me feel worthless.
“I want to send the message out there to businesses that we can actually work together to provide, not against each other.
“Let’s turn this negative experience into a positive.”
A JD spokesman said: “We are extremely disappointed to hear about Lizzie’s experience and have already been in touch with Lizzie directly to offer our sincere apologies that it clearly did not live up to the customer experience we pride ourselves on.
“The issues raised were investigated as a matter of urgency and the changing room was cleared immediately and is now in use in its proper function.
“The lift has a fault which means it is unsuitable for use and we are working to get it reinstated as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, staff will do their utmost to help and accommodate those with disabilities to access products on the upper floors of the store.
“We have dedicated teams looking at accessibility across our stores and we would welcome a meeting with Lizzie to discuss any ideas she has to help provide the best experience for all our customers.”
‘DISGUSTED’: Brunel University student Lizzie Williams