‘Safeguarding protocols’ prevented staff from helping Chippenham disabled woman

3:09pm Tuesday 19th February 2013

Disabled Glynis Deeks was ordered by benefits staff to attend a back-to-work meeting – at a building she was unable to get into.

And when the 59-year-old, of Cowleaze, Chippenham, asked staff for help, they told her they weren’t allowed to.

Chippenham Jobcentre told Mrs Deeks, who has arthritis and needs a wheelchair because she was born with both hips dislocated, she had to work more hours to qualify for benefits. It said she had to go to a meeting with training provider Pinnacle People at Avon Reach, Chippenham.

She called the company to ask if it could assist her inside, but she was told no-one was available to help.

Mrs Deeks said: “The Jobcentre told me it was mandatory to have an appointment with Pinnacle to access their back-to-work courses. Before I’d gone to the Jobcentre I rang to make sure they put bollards up to save me the disabled parking space. They know I have mobility problems, so it’s just ridiculous they’ve sent me to a building I can’t get into.”

Pinnacle People’s website says its skills programmes are tailored to specific customer needs – including people with disabilities.

Marketing manager Mary Barton said: “The customer asked if we could physically help them from out of their car to the building. We informed the customer this was not possible due to safeguarding protocols and invited the customer to bring someone with them to the meeting who could assist them.”

Mrs Deeks uses an attendant-propelled wheelchair and said it is not always possible to have assistance.

Pinnacle said its Avon Reach site is fully accessible and compliant with the Disa-bility Discrimination Act.

Mrs Deeks works eight hours a week at Christian bookshop Revelation and her wage is topped up by employment and support allowance.

But she has had to have her work capability reassessed for the Department for Work and Pensions.

She said: “They want me to work 16 hours a week.

“I work a few hours to try to keep myself going, but I can’t physically work more.”

The Jobcentre said it has it on record that Mrs Deeks attended a meeting with Pinnacle, but she said this had to be conducted over the telephone.


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