Blind woman ordered to leave Romford store after being told her guide dog wasn't allowed inside
PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 May 2016 | UPDATED: 13:17 19 May 2016
A blind woman said she felt "angry, upset and embarrassed" after being told to leave a store because of her guide dog.
Angela Armin, of Harold Hill, was shopping with her four-year-old labradoodle guide dog Unis when a manager of the Foot Locker store in Liberty Shopping Centre, Romford, told her to “get out”.
She arrived at the store on April 29 with her husband, children and some of their friends ready to spend £200 on new shoes.
Mrs Armin said she left the store “shaking” after being told to leave.
Despite having all the correct documentation and telling staff it was the law to let Unis in, the manager did not want to listen and was told “there was nothing she could do”.
Mrs Armin said: “When things like this happen, it’s a step backwards and it really knocks my confidence.
“It feels like someone has just punched you in the stomach, I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me.
“You end up just wanting to go home as you do not know whether the next shop will do the same.”
Mrs Armin was diagnosed with the eye condition uveitis 10 years ago - a condition where there is an inflammation of the uvea.
The 45-year-old said she could not go out on her own when she was first diagnosed but Unis gave her a “new lease of life”.
The mum-of-three now wants to raise awareness about the issue as it is not the first time it has happened.
Her friend Kirsten Witchalls took it upon herself to contact Foot Locker after the incident.
She said: “I was so incensed by her experience that I offered to pursue the issue and raise awareness.
“This isn’t the first time it has happened and I feel it is just not acceptable to treat people with such obvious disregard.”
Foot Locker has now apologised to Angela and donated £1,000 to the local guide dog charity.
A spokeswoman for Foot Locker said: “Foot Locker regrets Mrs Armin’s experience in our Romford store.
“Not welcoming her and her guide dog was contrary to our policy and we have taken prompt steps to re-educate our staff across the country.
“On top of that, we have apologised to her and her friend Mrs Witchalls, and made a meaningful contribution to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.”
Despite being grateful for Foot Locker’s response, Mrs Armin wants more to be done moving forward.
She said: “Educating staff is far more important than any nice gifts given to me.
“Life goes on and I just think about all the other guide dog users around the country who it could be happening to.”