Disabled shopper mocked and reduced to tears by Home Bargains staff after dropping items

A disabled woman who claimed she was mocked by Home Bargains staff hopes the retailer’s next steps will prevent anyone else having an experience like she did.

Dianna Slade, whose neurological disorder impacts her movement, was visiting the retail giant’s Bidston Moss store late last month when her symptoms flared up, reports the Liverpool Echo.

The shaking 37-year-old claims she was ridiculed by employees after battling to maintain her balance while picking up car mats she’d dropped mid-aisle onto a worker’s back.

While she headed to the check out, already embarrassed by her tearful struggle, she claims she heard a male staff member say “it’s a bit early to be drinking, isn’t it?” followed by “heartless giggles”.

She then posted an emotional reaction video showing her violently shaking her hands and describing how staff didn’t offer help despite her wearing a sunflower lanyard.

The neckwear is intended to act as a subtle hint to retail staff that a customer may need extra help or patience.

However, yesterday (September 28) the Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) sufferer declared a victory for disability rights after hearing the retail giant would be joining the Sunflower Lanyard Scheme.

In the video Dianna hailed the decision as ‘wonderful’ and expressed her gratitude for the hundreds of messages she’s received since she posted her first video.

Home Bargains say it has registered with the hidden disabilities scheme and intends to implement new disability awareness training across all its UK stores.

A spokesperson for the company said: “We are pleased to confirm we have registered with the hidden disabilities scheme with the aim of raising better awareness of the hidden disability sunflower across all of our stores.

“We appreciate the patience of our customers at this time as we begin to take the necessary steps to implement internal training for colleagues across all of our stores nationwide.”

Dianna hopes the training will ensure nobody suffers from the abuse she claims to have faced and that’ll prove her complaints to the store were worthwhile.

Dianna, said: “I’m just pleased they have agreed to join the scheme and I hope this goes a little way towards helping people with disabilities feel dignified when shopping.

“If this stops events like this happening to anybody else I’ll be reassured I did the right thing pursuing my complaint and insisting on viewing the CCTV footage.”

Dianna explained the ‘cruel’ barb she faced quickly worsened her symptoms in the store, leaving her to feel ‘worthless’ as she hobbled back to her brother’s car to record her emotional video.

After tweeting the video at Home Bargains, the store confirmed it was conducting a ‘detailed and thorough internal investigation’.

Dianna said: “I’m disabled not drunk. It broke my heart. I was sobbing and I just felt ashamed.

“What had happened so far was bad enough but that just humiliated me. Saying that to someone who’s visibly disabled or as visibly struggling as I was, it was heartless and really uncalled for.

“It was b*tchy and unnecessary and it really hurt my feelings.

“Before it happened I could feel an onset of fatigue coming over me, so I felt very wobbly and my body started to twitch. Knowing my body as I do that means it’s time to rest.

“I’d picked up these car mats because they were on sale, but with my wobbliness they fell onto the floor in the aisle and flopped onto the back of one of the staff.

“I was so apologetic, but it clammed me up a bit. I panicked and I struggled to pick the mats up. I was using my crutches as a tripod between my legs and I was holding my basket as well.

“The staff member was looking at me like I was insignificant and the other staff were just watching me. I managed to get the mats up after one of them held them up for me.

“I pulled everything together and I started hobbling to the tills. I could really feel the panic attack coming on. My mascara was down by my chin at this point and I was shaking.

“As I turned around the corner of the aisle I heard a male voice say ‘it’s a bit early to be drinking isn’t it?’ and the three of them had a little giggle at my expense.

“When I was at the tills my body just wouldn’t co-ordinate properly because the more worked up I get the worse things are.

“It’s not like it was the end of the day and they were tired and fed up with customers. I get he might not have been a morning person but there’s no need to insult someone because they’re disabled.

“Maybe he just thought he’d brighten his colleagues day with a joke but when it’s at the expense of someone else, he should have done better. Make a joke about the weather.

“You wouldn’t expect a staff member to take the mick out of someone for their race, gender or sexual identity so why is disability any different.

“When I got in the car, half of me was blaming myself but the other half of me knew that wasn’t fair. You could see how much I was shaking on the video.

“I was feeling very small and insignificant. Making the video was my way of sticking up for myself because there was no way I could storm in there and confront anyone.”

Dianna’s FND symptoms first appeared after she bulged one of her spine disks lifting a garden gate in 2016, but before her accident she was an outgoing training consultant saving for a mortgage.

Functional Neurological Disorder affects the nervous system by sending unnecessary pain signals, triggering chronic fatigue and seizures while hindering the sufferer’s ability to perform everyday tasks.

Due to her condition, Dianna mainly relies on getting her shopping delivered, however she had plucked up the courage to venture out – only the second time that month.

Dianna believes staff should have recognised the ‘hidden disabilities sunflower’ and taken more care to understand her clumsiness

The 37-year-old said her confidence was already ‘down in the gutter’ and the treatment she claimed to have suffered at Home Bargains meant she wouldn’t return until staff are fully trained.