altA disabled man from Exeter in Devon has expressed his concerns over lack of access to his local bingo hall. John Bahrij, who is 60, says that due to the lift at the city centre Mecca Bingo club in North Street repeatedly breaking down, many disabled customers either have to crawl on their hands and knees up the stairs, or give up and go home. Mr. Bahrij says that the whole situation is humiliating and undignified. He regularly uses an electric wheelchair, and has been a customer of the club for 20 years. After making his initial complaint about the state of the lift, he was told that Mecca Bingo were investigating the problem, in the hope of “finding a solution.” However, the lift then probably broke again.

A spokesperson for the company said back in October 2012, that the issue is being caused by the sensitivity of the guard rail on the lift, and that each time the elevator breaks it is fitted with a replacement piece of equipment. However, as the problem keeps re-occurring, they are trying to find a longer-term solution.

Mr. Bahrij says that the continuing problem with the lift is preventing disabled members from going into the hall and is “ruining people’s enjoyment.” On the last occasion, he says that he got all dressed up and was looking forward to a session of bingo, but on arriving, he was told he could not go in because the lift was out of order again. He says, “this is an issue about equality,” because those who are elderly, disabled, or have mobility issues are not being given the same opportunities as able-bodied players.

When asked for their side of the story, a spokesperson for Mecca Bingo said that they were investigating a long-term solution, which they hope will be implemented early in the New Year. She went on to apologise to any customers who have ”had to miss out on their favourite pastime, or for any inconvenience.”

Have any of our disabled readers had issues with access to their local bingo clubs? Maybe there’s a ramp installed by the main doors, but other inner doors open the wrong way? What facilities does your local hall provide that help you continue to enjoy being a member and play all your favourite games, and if there was one thing they could do to make your life easier, what would it be?