Mum says five-year-old was refused toilet at Tesco Express despite crying in pain

A mum has hit out at Tesco after her daughter was refused access to the toilet despite crying in pain.

Sarah Brooks had stopped off at the Tesco Esso Express in Hazel Grove, Stockport, as five-year-old Mia was desperate for a wee and they wanted to pick up her favourite drink for their planned Sunday afternoon trip to feed the ducks.

But the mum-of-one said a staff member stocking the shelves ‘bluntly’ refused her request, despite her explaining that the youngster is being investigated for autism and was getting more distressed at trying to hold it in.

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“Mia was in hysterics and crying and saying ‘I really need the toilet mummy’ and the woman working there could clearly see how distressed and upset she was getting, even my daughter looked at her and said ‘please’,” said Sarah, who lives in Offerton.

“Her response was very blunt and she just said ‘no, it’s staff only’. She told us there was a pub across the road, or if we couldn’t use that, then there was a McDonald’s down the road.”

Sarah Brooks said she was 'disgusted' by the rude response
Sarah Brooks said she was ‘disgusted’ by the rude response
(Image: Google Maps)

Sarah, 35, said she was ‘disgusted’ with the ‘rude’ response and has complained to Tesco.

Hearing that they’d been refused the toilet, husband Simon, put down the drinks they had planned to buy and they quickly began to head home.

“We just got back in the car and thought it would be quicker to try to get home by this point,” said Sarah.

“But thankfully we came across a Sainsbury’s with a petrol station and they said ‘there’s a customer toilet right there’. We explained what had happened and they said that even if theirs had been a staff toilet and not a customer toilet they would still have let her use it.

“No child should be left in such discomfort. In fact no human being should be left like that if they are desperate. She did end up having an accident and it really upset her.

“We were supposed to be going to Redesmere Lake to see the ducks on Sunday afternoon but we just went home instead as she didn’t want to go anymore.”

Mum Sarah with her daughter Mia
Mum Sarah with her daughter Mia
(Image: Sarah Brooks / MEN)

NHS worker Sarah complained about the issue on Tesco’s Facebook page, but says there was little sympathy shown by customers and she ended up deleting her post because of the negativity.

“The response from the public was disgusting,” she said. “One person said I should have just pulled my daughter’s pants down and let her pee on the grass. I’m sorry but she’s not an animal, they might have done that back in the day, but it’s humiliating and embarrassing, she’s five years old and she understands these things.”

Sarah said she’s had jobs herself where they have made exceptions for people struggling to get to the loo and feels it’s wrong to deny someone such a basic human right.

“I’m an NHS worker working on the wards and we have patient toilets and staff toilets,” she said. “If a relative comes to visit they’d have to use the main toilets in the hospital, but if someone was really struggling – say a child or an elderly person with mobility issues – we would let them use the staff toilets and then ask domestics to clean them or do it ourselves.

“If we can do that on an NHS ward with strict rules on infections then I’m sure other places can make allowances.”

A Tesco spokesperson said: “We’re really very sorry this happened and the team have been reminded that access to our toilets are given to anyone who needs to use them including children, pregnant and disabled customers.”

Have you had a similar issue? Do you think businesses should let customers use the staff toilets if it’s an emergency? Let us know your views in the comments here.

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MEN – Stockport