By Charlie Loran • 09 November 2020 • 20:24
A BLIND woman claims she faces abuse every time she goes shopping because she is accidentally getting too close to people and keeping a social distance.
Linda Johnson, 46, says in one upsetting incident recently she was pushed by a shopper in Marks and Spencer near her home in Margate, Kent, for not properly social distancing. She also claims she was sworn at and called ‘ignorant’ when her guide dog Iggy led her to the door of Lloyd’s Bank in Margate, bypassing the queue outside. ‘I can’t see if there is a queue and guide dogs are trained to take you to the entrance or the door,’ she said.
‘A queue to Iggy is nothing, it’s an obstacle, she’ll take me past it. That’s when the abuse and aggression starts.’
Linda, who was made redundant from her job at Saga when the pandemic hit in March, went to her bank and Iggy took her straight to the entrance. ‘Someone said “there’s a queue over there, you’ll need to join it” and I was told to go along a pathway,’ she said. ‘When you have limited or no sight, “over there” means nothing. I explained that guide dogs were not taught to queue which was why I’d gone to the door and then people started having a go at me. ‘Someone was moaning about how inconsiderate I am and I was called ignorant. Two members of staff had to come out to calm things down. I felt so anxious and uncomfortable so I just left.’
Linda says when she first started hearing about guide dog owners getting shouted at she didn’t think it would happen to her. ‘I couldn’t believe that some people were being so awful, but then after the first lockdown it started happening,’ she said. ‘There is so much aggression out there aimed at guide dog owners, it’s beyond me. ‘We have a guide dog for independence and freedom yet this is being taken away from us. ‘We can’t shop confidently, we can’t go into shops because of abuse from the public.
‘It’s creating a lot of fear and anxiety, and it will probably stop me going out to the shops. ‘I have to really psych myself up to go out these days to buy essentials. Shopping is now frightening and it shouldn’t be.’ Miss Johnson says she now avoids Sainsbury’s and Tesco Extra but praised Marks and Spencer for going ‘above and beyond’ to help her keep safe.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) says there have been many cases of blind people being confronted. The charity is calling on the government to issue guidance to service providers and communicate to the public to be more aware of people with sight loss.
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Manchester born mummy with a two year old diva (2020), living on the Costa del Sol for just short of a decade.
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