Disabled woman in tears after being mocked by Home Bargains staff

By Sophie McCoid

A disabled shopper was left sobbing after she claims Home Bargains staff mocked her shaking hands and poor balance.

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.

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

READ MORE: Mum's plea to parents after toddler with 'tummy bug' dies

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."

Dianna, who uses crutches to move around, explained the "cruel" barb quickly worsened her symptoms, leaving her to feel "worthless" as she hobbled back to her brother's car and recorded an emotional video.

Sobbing in the clip posted to Twitter, the Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) sufferer shows her violently shaking hands and describes 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, and Dianna has hit out at staff, claiming they mocked her needs rather than accommodating them.

Dianna, from Meols, Wirral, 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. People might think I'm a snowflake but this is my life now.

"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.

Dianna Slade with her crutches and sunflower lanyard (Kennedy News and Media)

"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.

Dianna Slade in her teary reaction video (Kennedy News and Media)

"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.

Dianna Slade in tears after the incident in Home Bargains (Kennedy News and Media)

The 37-year-old says her confidence is already "down in the gutter" and the treatment she's claimed to have suffered at Home Bargains means she won't return until staff are "trained properly".

Dianna said: "They were just so dismissive of me and cruel. It was like I wasn't deserving of her attention.

"I've been to another Home Bargains and asked if their staff know about the sunflower lanyard scheme and one lady said that she thinks it's to do with them being exempt from wearing masks.

"I'd like there to be some consequences for the staff involved. Not for them to be fired, I just want them to be made aware it's highly inappropriate.

"I want a commitment from Home Bargain s to train their staff on the lanyard scheme and that people may need assistance. I won't go back until that's sorted.

"If it'd just been that I'd struggled and it was down to my clumsiness and then nothing had been said, then I wouldn't have been as bad but that comment, I just can't forget it."

A spokesperson from Home Bargains said: “We are committed to treating all of our customers with respect and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind within our business.

"We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously and are conducting a detailed and thorough internal investigation of what has happened.”

Receive newsletters with the latest news, sport and what's on updates from the Liverpool ECHO by signing up here


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.