A Paralympic athlete has spoken out about how she was forced to wet herself during a train journey because no disabled toilets were working. British wheelchair racer Anne Wafula Strike says she has decided to speak out, despite feeling intensely embarrassed, because she wants to raise awareness of the problems facing people with disabilities.
Ms Strike, who cannot use her legs, had been taking the train home to Harlow in Essex after attending a UK Athletics meeting in Coventry. The 42 year old needed to go to the toilet but the accessible toilet was not working, and her wheelchair would not fit down the aisles so she could get to another facility on board.
She said that train staff offered to let her off at the next station so she could use the toilet there, but there was no one to help her off the train with a ramp. By the time she got to the next station, she said she simply could not hold on any longer and was forced to wet herself. Ms Strike said she was so embarrassed that she hid her face with her hoodie in case anyone recognised who she was.
Businesses should be fined
The disability campaigner said she felt “completely robbed” of her dignity as a result of the incident, and that she believed that organisations should be fined large sums if they did not adhere to legislation. She said she had tried to conceal the smell of urine by spraying perfume and had scrubbed herself in the showever when she got home, before crying for hours.
A spokesperson for CrossCountry said they were “extremely sorry” for what had happened. They added: “Our managing director has passed on our apologies to her along with an explanation of why it appears all our systems failed her on that day,” saying they hoped Ms Strike would contact them in the New Year so they could try to make amends.