A few days ago I wrote a post called “What do you think?”
I had contacted a local attraction to tell them that my son was not able to use the toilet there and that we had been left with no choice but to leave, despite having driven for 40 minutes to get there. I was clear. We visited. We could not stay.
I had hoped they would feel sad that a child had not been able to enjoy the wonderful site they have. I had anticipated that they would feel something and want to at least try to make things better. I expected questions. I hoped for a discussion. I hoped they would look into it and find out what was possible.
Instead, they tried to suggest that it just wasn’t possible, due to the “remote landscape” and “old buildings” and also told me that their current disabled toilets are seriously small. They simply said it was not possible to improve, whilst also telling me that they do value accessibility and that they are constantly striving to improve things!
To make matters worse, they ended it by saying that they hope this will not deter us from visiting again!
Did they read my message?
How on earth do they think we can visit again? Maybe leave the disabled child at home?
I was hurt.
I was stunned.
I read it several times because I could not quite believe how lacking in both compassion and humanity that response was.
Looking at their website, there is no mention of it being old.
“Whatever passion you plan on indulging, you’ll need somewhere to stay in West Cornwall and we can offer not only the perfect location, but also a great choice of hotel and self-catering accommodation.”
The Perfect Location
Unless you are disabled.
Their website is filled with great looking photos. The 4D cinema certainly looks high-tech and like it took some effort and expense to create.
They were creating that for the people who matter. The visitors who will spend money. My son would love to be one of those. The comments on my previous post clearly show that many others would love to go too. One was from someone who recognised it as they had also visited and had to leave, just like us.
How many more people are they missing out on?
How many more people are left feeling like they don’t matter?
Many people asked why I had not named the attraction. Many others recognised it and contacted me because they wanted to “name and shame” them.
I asked them not to.
I asked them not to because I truly believed that they just hadn’t realised what it meant. That they just didn’t understand. There is nothing wrong with not knowing but when you do know better shouldn’t you try to do better?
Wouldn’t you WANT to do better?
When I spoke to the manager at Cornwall Services he was visibly affected by the realisation that their facilities had excluded a child. He realised immediately that this child was not the only person being excluded but I actually think that if it was just this one child he would still have taken the same action. Because one child matters.
Surely a big attraction like this would feel the same if they thought about it again?
So I sent another e-mail, one which I thought would enable them to understand.
“I am hoping that you will read your reply to me once again and ask yourself
if it really is an acceptable response when someone is writing to inform you
that a child could not access the toilet at your attraction.
How on earth are my family not going to be deterred from visiting the
westernmost point of Cornwall in the future?
I told you that we came and that we had to leave. Short of a miracle
happening with my son, how on earth can we visit?
I am not even sure that your current “disabling toilet” meets the minimum
required standards. How is this valuing accessibility? The Lands End
attraction has been running for a very long time, yet I don’t see these
facilities as showing that you have strived to enhance the experience for
You are missing out on many people visiting your attraction.
Please have a rethink about what is necessary to ensure that people are not
I was expecting a response which would open discussions. One which would suggest that they cared. One which would say that they were, at the very least, going to consider how they could ensure that nobody else feels discriminated against due to a disability.
This is what I received,
Thank you for your reply.
I am sorry to hear that you feel our response was unacceptable. Please do
not be mistaken, we absolutely empathise with Adam’s situation; although, I
must echo the sentiments in my previous email.
I’d like to thank you once again for your input and we wish you and your
family the very best.
Am I just “mistaken”?
Do they really “empathise”?
And frankly, my son does not have a “situation”. He is a delightful, happy, popular, huge-hearted boy. He is as able as I am to explore the site. He was disabled by their poor and clearly unsuitable facilities.
They wish us “the very best”.
What would that be? It certainly isn’t to visit Lands End. They are quite okay with the knowledge that we cannot go there and that neither can hundreds of thousands of others.
They told my son that he doesn’t matter.
My heart broke a little more today.
Reading the e-mail from them left me reeling.
I actually don’t think these cold-hearted people deserve to have my son set a wheel in their “attraction” but I do believe, very strongly, that my son (and every other person who wants to) should be able to.