A disabled man who wanted to go clubbing for the first time to mark his 30th birthday was left devastated when he was turned away by bouncers.
Jamie Lee Jones had spent the evening celebrating at a family party and decided he wanted to join his step-dad Peter Robinson, 42, inside Vibe in Peterlee.
But Jamie, who was in the company of his mum Tracey, was denied access, first because he was wearing short and then again because the trousers he returned in did not have a zip.
Club bosses have expressed their “considerable sadness” at what happened and say they plan to speak to door staff about how to behave in such situations.
Jamie is deaf and has cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, which causes a build up of fluid on the brain, along with epilepsy and asthma, and was using a form of sign language to communicate with his 54-year-old mum when they arrived at the door of the Bede Way venue on Saturday, March 2.
She said it would have been obvious that Jamie has learning difficulties and was making noises because of his hearing issues.
They need to have some understanding of people with disabilities.Tracey Robinson
Tracey, who is also mum to Roxzanne Jones, 30, and Georgina Robinson, 19, said: “Jamie, in the way he dresses, it’s very much in his own style and he always has shorts on.
“He’s a big lad, about 23 or 24 stone.
“They said he couldn’t go in ‘dressed like that’ so we got him changed and took him back and they went straight away, he couldn’t get in because his trousers didn’t have a zip.
“He can’t have trousers with zips, it’s so he can go to the toilet himself.
“But he knew my husband was already in there and he signalled to me in sign language he wanted to go in, he didn’t understand what was going on.
“He went to walk in and the bouncer put his hand out to stop him.
“My husband said there were others already in there wearing shorts and joggers.
“Jamie was upset because he didn’t know why he couldn’t go in.
“It put a sour note on the night.
“He lives as normal a life as he can.
“He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t take drugs, he was with his mam, what was he going to do?
“I was fuming, he just wanted to go in and he’s never been in somewhere like that in his life.
“They need to have some understanding of people with disabilities.”
Tracey added she wanted to praise the “wonderful” taxi driver for their help in travelling back and forth during the evening and for the care and sympathy he had offered.
A spokesman for the Ladhar Group, which owns Vibe and also runs nursing homes, said: “We want to express our considerable sadness that the young man had his birthday spoilt by the rejection at the doorway.
“While we operate venues such as this, the other half of our operation provides care, special care across a multitude of health requirements, so we are understanding and empathetic to the family.
“We have not been able to identify which member of door staff was involved, but we are going to have a conversation with them and have decided to have a refresher for staff about situations like this and how they can handle them and the potential for challenging situations.
“Should the family still feel aggrieved and upset, we would meet with them have a further conversation.”