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‘My disabled daughter is being treated like a second class citizen in Newham leisure centre’, says dad

Disabled Ruby Naeem outside East Ham Leisure Centre. Disabled Ruby Naeem outside East Ham Leisure Centre.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
10:56 AM

The father of a disabled woman says his daughter is being treated “like a second-class citizen” at a Newham swimming pool as vital equipment is not in working order.

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Ruby Naeem, 21, who has physical and mental disabilities, looks forward to the disabled swimming sessions at East Ham Leisure Centre on Thursday mornings but has been left distressed as one of the two hoists used to move her around the centre has been broken for about six weeks.

Her father, Sohail Naeem, 51, said: “She loves swimming, it is one of the highlights of her week and it is disappointing because this happens and it spoils her day and she comes home upset.”

Ruby is taken to the sessions by one of her carers, who say they struggle to cope with the fact that the centre only has one wheeled plastic chair for helping to lift disabled people out of the pool - meaning there is often a long wait to use it.

Sohail, who lives in Beverley Road, East Ham, with his wife Zahida and their two other children, said: “It is a very important chair and they don’t really cost much so there should be more than one, especially when you have lots of disabled people in the pool together.

“If they are going to have a special session, you would expect them to have enough facilities for all of them.”

Sohail also believes that the changing rooms at the centre in Barking Road, run by activeNewham, are not cleaned adequately.

“Just because they are disabled doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be cleaned,” he said. “Maybe they think that they are not going to notice, as if they are second class citizens, but it shouldn’t be like that. There needs to be regular maintenance and regular cleaning. ”

Ian Mitchell, Managing Director of active Newham, said: “activeNewham are committed to ensuring all of the services we manage are accessible and enjoyable to all. It is extremely disappointing on this occasion one of our customers has been inconvenienced whilst using East Ham Leisure Centre, we have already arranged to meet with them to ensure all the issues they have raised are addressed immediately. “Our disability engagement officer will undertake a full review of the services, equipment and access at East Ham Leisure Centre and improvements will be made where required.”

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