Mecca Bingo bans epileptic player

September 11, 2010 - by Jaymac · Filed Under London Bingo News Leave a Comment 

In a very controversial move Mecca Bingo has banned a woman from their Beeston club as she suffers from epilepsy. 27 year old Laura Richards claims she was told not to return to the club by members of the staff after she had a fit whilst playing bingo. The club say this is due to Health and Safety reasons although its a tricky stance to take, especially as the Disability Discrimination Act states it is against the law to refuse to provide a service to any disabled person which they would provide to any other member of the public.

Laura has played bingo since she was 18 and says; “I cannot drive or work because of my condition so bingo was my only way of socializing and I really loved it. Being banned is stopping me from really enjoying my life. The fact I cannot work or drive has already destroyed my life but not being able to attend bingo has left me feeling completely isolated. I have lots of friends at the club but unfortunately I cannot see them anymore.”
She has suffered from epilepsy since she was a baby and still suffers fits despite taking medication. She can go for a week without having one, though sometimes has fits three or four times a week.

Neil Tams, the manager at Beeston Mecca Bingo says that the ban is purely in Laura’s best interests. He said; “The safety of our customers and team members is our highest priority and with that in mind we have taken the decision to ban Laura Richards. Over the past months there have been several incidents with Laura when she’s visited and as a result of these incidents we spoke to Laura and told her she was welcome to visit us but only if she was accompanied by her carer. Laura has ignored our request and continued to visit alone. Events that have taken place during her last few visits have led us to believe that in visiting alone she poses a risk to herself and others.”

Staff at the club have called an ambulance on 3 separate occasions for Laura, although Laura says that she has never required treatment or been taken to hospital. By law a qualified first aider must always be present at bingo clubs. First aid training should deal with how to deal with epileptic fits, as well as other conditions such as asthma, heart attacks and strokes. Epilepsy is not an uncommon illness, more than 1 in 140 people suffer from epilepsy and with an average bingo club having approximately 2000 admissions a week this would mean each club has around 15 visits a week from people with epilepsy, although many people have their condition under control.

Louise Whalley, a spokesperson for Epilepsy Action said; “Although we cannot comment on individual cases, it is unacceptable for a bingo hall or any other establishment to discriminate against a person because of their epilepsy. Some people with epilepsy may feel more comfortable taking someone with them, but this is entirely the choice of the individual. Businesses that deal with the public should provide training for staff on epilepsy and what to do if a customer has a seizure.”

Until this measure is changed, she will have to rely on playing Internet bingo from home in order to get her fix of bingo games and socializing.

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