An Oxford student with a disability was left feeling ‘shaken and excluded’ after they were refused entry with their guide dog to a popular restaurant.
Kelsey Trevett, 20, who is blind and has been an experienced guide dog owner since 2017, was refused entry to Ramen Kulture on St Giles’ Street, a popular independent restaurant.
Under the 2010 equality act, it is illegal for any service provider to deny entry to someone with a disability because of any equipment they may need as a result of this disability.
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In a Twitter thread, the Trinity College Politics, Philosophy, and Economics student said: “Today my guide dog and I were refused entry to Ramen Kulture in Oxford. After I clarified that guide dog refusals are illegal, the manager said, “I know , aim…”.
“He was happy for us to sit outside (but outside only); I wasn’t comfortable staying to eat there so we went elsewhere.
“I’m a confident and experienced guide dog owner — Lacey and I qualified in September 2017 —, and this time, I was with a friend. But nevertheless, situations like this are, as well as frustrating, incredibly distressing in the moment, and make me feel shaken and excluded.
“To be unaware of the law is one thing: whilst awareness should be better, progress takes time. But to have the manager acknowledge the law, and still argue that he wasn’t prepared to follow it, just added an extra layer to this discriminatory behaviour.”
Today my guide dog and I were refused entry to Ramen Kulture in Oxford. After I clarified that guide dog refusals are illegal, the manager said, “I know, but…”.
He was happy for us to sit outside (but outside only); I wasn’t comfortable staying to eat there so we went elsewhere.
— Kelsey Trevett (@CouldBeKel) May 25, 2022
Over 200 people liked their tweet thread, with messages of solidarity flooding.
Mr Trevett told this paper: “I’m quite a confident guide dog owner, I have been qualified with Lacey for five years, but if that is how I was left feeling imagine if someone who has recently become blind was faced with the same situation .”
Labor Oxfordshire County Council’s Damian Haywood also messaged Kelsey, sharing he’d take up the issue with the relevant authorities.
A spokesperson from Ramen Kulture said: “What had happened was one of our managers, noticed that a customer had walked in with a dog and politely told the customers that no pets were allowed on the premises.
“Truthfully he was not aware of the laws that exist on the use of guide dogs for disabled individuals. Therefore this was a fault of our own, and we will actively work to train our staff so they are fully educated on the laws that exist within the UK.
“Our staff did not outrightly refuse entry to this customer, due to the limited spacing in our restaurant, the customer was asked to wait or sit outside before the table can be ready and we do believe this was a miscommunication as English is also not his first language.
“Please note that this manager recently relocated to the UK less than a year ago from Hong Kong and was unaware of the laws the centered around the use of guide dogs we hope that they can forgive his mistake, on behalf of us owners of the business we sincerely apologise that we offended this customer in any form and will work hard to ensure this never happens again learning from this experience we will take this to action actively and immediately.
“Therefore In line with 2010 Equality Act- we recognized that all disabled individuals/ guide dog owners have the same rights as everyone to use our services. After getting this feedback we have had an urgent meeting with all current staff to review the rules and guidelines information of access to food premises with guide dogs owners and we have established the information provided from the publication .
“We have also printed copies to put in the staff training file and in the manager office in case any of the staff is unsure.
“We will also in future work to ensure the layout of our restaurant is adjusted so guide dogs have room to sit and move around the premises.
“Please note that we do not discriminate against anyone, everyone is welcome to dine at our restaurant
“Our sincere apologies to the customer and this is a first time experience for us and we do hope they accept our sincere apologies and inconvenience caused if they would like to contact us further please email or call.”
This story was written by Shosha Adie.
She joined the team in 2022 as a digital reporter.
To get in touch with her email: Shosha.Adie@newsquest.co.uk
Follow her on Twitter: @ShoshaAdie
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