A disabled woman who suffers with limited mobility and urinary incontinence wet herself last week after she was refused toilet entry at a Costa Coffee shop in Erith.

On Tuesday, March 5, 46-year old Lisa asked a staff member at Costa Coffee, located at Riverside Shopping Centre, if she could use the toilets in the Costa store.

She was refused access, and subsequently had an accident because she had no other option.

She told the News Shopper: “I have fibromyalgia which affects my mobility, I've been diagnosed with COPD, and I have problems with an overactive bladder.

“I have issues going on and I frequently need access to a toilet, or I have accidents.

"I'm not particularly an ‘old person’".

Lisa says she was on her way to the food store Iceland when she needed to use a restroom close by.

As she’s previously been into this particular Costa store with the same concerns, she thought it “wouldn’t be an issue”, but to her dismay, it was.

She explained: “There isn't actually any facilities in that Riverside section that I can use.

“So I went into Costa, and I asked if I could have access to the toilet because they have a key code.

“The staff member told me they don’t have a disabled toilet and told me I needed a receipt.

“I said, ‘well, I'm disabled, can I please just use the toilet? I have medical condition’.

“And he said, ‘you need a receipt’."

After explaining that she had a blue badge on her car, Lisa showed the Costa employee her bladder and bowel community pass on her phone, which should be recognised by retailers, pubs, and other hospitality places.

“He wouldn’t even look at it” Lisa added.

"He just said ‘no’.

“He held his name badge out and told me to take his name."

A spokesperson for Costa Coffee says it believes in creating “warm and welcoming environments” in the stores, including “offering customers access to toilets”.

The spokesperson added: “Our toilets, including those with locks on the door, are primarily for our paying customers, however, we do appreciate that there are times and situations whereby team members should use their discretion and make an exception for non-paying customers.

“We’re very sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

Lisa had no other choice but to leave the Costa Coffee store and head to her car, as she says she knew she wouldn’t be able to go shopping without getting to a toilet.

Lisa added: “I left really embarrassed, and I didn't make it to the car.

“I had an accident, so I had to come home and clean myself up.

“It was just really demoralising, and he seemed to take great satisfaction in exerting whatever power he thinks he has in that situation.

“It just was really inhumane.”

Fibromyalgia affects one in 20 people, and there are often many symptoms with the syndrome, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome and an overactive bladder, which ultimately leads to toilet emergencies.

Des Quinn has dedicated nearly two decades to working with the charity Fibromyalgia Action UK, where he currently serves as Chairman.

In his role, he oversees daily operations and spearheads efforts to raise awareness for the charity's mission.

Des told the News Shopper that it’s a “fairy regular occurrence” for people with fibromyalgia to face challenges when asking to use restrooms in public places.

He explains: “People ask questions like ‘why are you using the disabled toilet, you look fine’.

“Sometimes, people can't get access to a toilet when they really need it, and at that point in time, you don’t have the option or time to explain how difficult fibromyalgia is.

“These accidents that are easily preventable, but they do happen."

Des emphasized that raising awareness is at the "core" of everything Fibromyalgia Action UK does, which involves sharing information through leaflets, booklets, and helplines. 

Des added: "At the moment with the current conversations that are going on with government, benefits are getting harder and harder to a obtain as somebody with a condition.

“Invisible conditions suffer under the same banner as mental health.

“So our benefits helpline is already dealing with a lot of people and I suspect it's going to be dealing with more as time goes on.

“We're also interacting with health professionals attending conferences, and doing anything that really does either improve awareness or improve the quality of information or treatments that are available for fibromyalgia.”