‘I was turned away from Dalston club because I’m disabled’ says student

Katouche Goll

Katouche Goll - Credit: Archant

A teenager with cerebral palsy was left in tears after being turned away from a Dalston nightclub because of her disability.

Visions in Dalston. (Picture: Ewan-M CC BY-SA 2.0)

Visions in Dalston. (Picture: Ewan-M CC BY-SA 2.0) - Credit: Archant

Katouche Goll, a 19-year-old student at Soas University of London, uses walking sticks to get around and had travelled from Lewisham for a night out at Visions Video Bar in Kingsland Road.

But the excited youngster was caught off guard when she was refused entry to the underground spot by its bouncers.

She told the Gazette: “The bouncers thought I was trying to pass by but I said ‘no, I’m coming in’. They told me it wasn’t accessible and I said ‘no worries, I can manage’. Then they said they couldn’t guarantee my safety in the event of an emergency and wouldn’t let me in.

“I was so upset. They were making a judgement call on someone who knows their capabilities. Then I started crying. I even called my mum and she spoke to the bouncers.

“It was humiliating, I went to The Nest in Dalston the night before and the bouncers there were so nice, they assisted me down the stairs when I didn’t even need help.”

Katouche’s misery was compounded by having to travel back to Lewisham on the bus by herself.

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Being born with cerebral palsy, she has had to put up with discrimination her whole life and has developed a thick skin.

But after posting about her experience on Twitter, she was shocked when people began telling her it was for her own good.

“I don’t find my value in what other people have to say,” she continued. “I know who I am. But how can people dictate what’s good for me? I’m not dumb. I know I have to check places are accessible and I phoned during the day but no one answered.

“People were telling me it was for my own good. That’s harmful. I expect apathy but these were people my age. They are supposed to be progressive young people.”

Jimmi Telesford, hate crime advocate for disability charity Choice in Hackney said the venue needed to make sure it was accessible under the Equality Act.

Turning his attention to the trolls, he said: “How would they feel if someone said they couldn’t go somewhere? She’s not a child – you can’t say that to her. If she wanted to take this complaint to police she could.”

Visions manager Gianno Parris said safety was the “magic word that rests on the mind of every well ran licensed venue”.

He told the Gazette: “If someone has a disability which inhibits their movement or the movement of those in close proximity it’s important we are notified in advance so that we can make adequate preparations and where possible nullify any hazards.

“Unfortunately in the early hours of Saturday, Katouche Goll turned up at the venue without notifying us.

“Our security considered wether we could make an exception for her, but after observing her navigate the pavement and taking into consideration the capacity of the venue at time, potential alcohol consumption and the steep staircase leading down into the basement, it was considered too great a safety risk for all in attendance including her.”