Special needs kids told to sit on train floor instead of 'spoiling first class ambiance'

Special needs kids told to sit on train floor instead of 'spoiling first class ambiance'
Published: 2013 August 14 01:02:26 (10258 Views)
Special needs children as young as four were told to sit on the floor of a train rather than in empty first-class seats because they would 'spoil' the ambiance of the carriage.

The youngsters from the Stage Right Theatre Group, based in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, were on their way back from a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe festival when they found standard class packed to the brim, meaning they had to sit outside the toilets.

When volunteers asked the train manager if they could move to the near-empty carriage of the CrossCountry train, they were given short shrift and reportedly told the first-class passengers 'do not need the likes of your children spoiling their journey'.

Even though other families paying the standard fare were allowed into the more expensive section, the female manager would not be swayed.

After repeated polite requests to let them move, she is also said to have told the charity workers: 'If you don't stop talking to me, I will throw you all off. Then how will you get back to Motherwell?'

Rebekah Aitken, 25, who runs the group at Carluke Leisure Centre every Sunday, was clearly angered by the treatment of her pupils, aged four to 11, on the service from Edinburgh Waverley.

She told the Daily Record: 'We were discriminated against because of the disabled kids we had with us.

'I'm embarrassed for the kids as they were paraded in front of the passengers and made to feel like an inconvenience.

'The train manager thought they weren't of the standard to be allowed to sit in the business carriage but she moved other kids and parents, who had paid the same train fare, into those seats.'



Ms Aitken's Stage Right cohort, Elaine Berry, was equally miffed by their snub, saying: 'Their memories of what had been a brilliant day are now of her and their train journey home.'

However a spokesman for the Arriva-owned CrossCountry apologised for the children's mistreatment, adding that it would investigate the incident.

He said: 'We are sorry to learn of the circumstances of the Stage Right Theatre School on their recent journey.

'We expect our staff to be polite and helpful at all times and it is extremely disappointing if their behaviour was as described. We will investigate the circumstances as a matter of urgency and will be in touch with them as soon as this is completed.

'We would like to offer our sincere apologies to Rebekah, Elaine and all the children for the poor quality of their journey back to Motherwell.'

The children's plight was met with disgust by campaigners, with one going by the name of Skippy McCarthy beginning a change.org petition to Scottish first minister, Alex Salmond, to investigate the discrimination.

He called CrossCountry's response a 'worthless apology' that suggests 'as time passes, nothing will be done'.

He added: 'These children lost a day of their lives through the behaviour of an employee of this rail company but, more importantly were shown that they count for nothing.

'Not only should they be reimbursed for all expenses incurred on that day but they should receive free annual business travel passes for a minimum of 12 months on all Scottish transport facilities.

'As to who pays for this, they have already paid enough, having been subjected to this humiliating and belittling experience.'



Source - Metro

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