A disabled woman has slammed a Topshop store after they filled up their accessible changing room with sale stock, leaving 32-year-old Nina Grant, who uses a wheelchair, without a suitable space to change.
Nina was angered when she claims a shop assistant stopped her heading to the designated fitting room and drew back a curtain to reveal it was rammed with items on clothing rails.
She says she was left trying to squeeze into a standard changing room in Topshops Palace Exchange branch in Enfield, London.
Nina says she was cramped and her wheelchair was left sticking out as she attempted to try on a top she liked.
Nina, from north London, has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
People with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome often have unstable joints that can dislocate easily, fragile skin that easily breaks and joint hypermobility – meaning that joints can move beyond the normal and expected range.
Nina uses a wheelchair every day and experiences extreme fatigue and pain that makes it impossible to work.
Nina said that her experience in Topshop has left her feeling frustrated, especially as this isnt the first time she has seen a store using a disabled changing room as the extension of a store room.
She said: When I got to the changing rooms the assistant told me straight away that I couldnt use the accessible changing rooms and that I would need to use a normal one.
She was really helpful and did show me the changing room and the rails of clothes being stored in there to explain why.
When I saw it, I would like to say I was surprised but it is such a common sight that I wasnt even shocked, which is shocking in itself.
It was packed full of clothing rails filled with sale stock.
Unfortunately, you just get used to shops using accessible toilets and changing rooms for storage.
Ive had disabled toilets packed full of nappy bins, zimmer frames and even bikes before.
They just limit the amount of room in them and can make it hard to even shut the door sometimes.
Nina continued: I felt like the assistants reaction made it clear that this isnt a one-off as she told me as soon as I got to the fitting rooms.
I managed to cram into a smaller room, but my wheelchair was hanging out of the entrance with the curtain wrapped around it.
But what if someone came in with a larger wheelchair and really needed that larger space?
Nina explained that the smaller changing rooms dont have an emergency pull cord for someone to use if they need emergency assistance, which is dangerous.
She said: I dont normally feel strong enough to try items on in shops as my syndrome can cause me to have extreme fatigue and pain which makes everyday tasks hard.
I think out of the average 30 days in a month, 29 of them my Ehlers-Danlos is bad.
Topshop say they have contacted Nina about the issue.
Topshop say they have responded to Ninas concerns and reassured her that they would remind staff that the accessible changing rooms arent to be used for storage. They are working closely with charities to ensure everyone has the same opportunities in their stores.
However, that didnt stop Nina taking a photo of the changing room to document her experience.
Nina said: While I was squeezing in there I realised how angry I was, and I decided to take a picture of it when I got out.
I took the picture and posted it online as I thought that would be the best place to get a response from them and I also complained through head office.
When they replied I was relatively happy with the response as they said that they would remind all staff that accessible changing rooms arent for storage and that they work with charities to make sure disabled people are given the same opportunities as everyone else.
I just hope that they do actually do something.
Im not going to charge in there to check the changing rooms but if I do happen to be in there in the future I will just have a quick glance to make sure the accessible changing room isnt being used as storage.
I really want to raise awareness of this issue as it is becoming more and more common and something needs to be done nationally in all retailers.
A spokesperson for Topshop said: We are in direct contact with the customer with regard to this.