Disabled mum wet herself in River Island when she wasn’t allowed to use toilet

Estimated read time 4 min read


Bianca Artwell, 30, has the debilitating neurological condition Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), which affects the nervous system and how the brain and body send and receive signals. It can lead to incontinence and, when Bianca needed to use the toilet during a shopping trip last month, she says she was told it was against company policy and to use a nearby café instead.

But the mum of two couldn’t hold on and wet herself in the busy shop – and claims staff placed a “Wet Floor” sign next to her.

Speaking today, Bianca said: “Stood in a pool of my own urine I turned to the three staff members on the till and explained I was really sorry but I had had an accident.

“They just stared at me and the manager who was getting ready to leave instructed them to put a wet floor sign down.

“I stood there frozen in complete horror.

“A staff member came up to me but instead of offering to help she just dropped the wet floor sign next to me and walked away.

“Stood in shock, I assumed she must be coming back but instead she and her colleagues carried on their conversation.

“The manager even walked past me and shouted ‘bye’ to her colleagues and just looked at me in my mess and left the premises.

“As other customers arrived, walking past me and my wet floor sign, it finally occurred that this was my problem and the staff weren’t going to help me in any way.

“No offer of going to a changing room, no offer of tissues, no offer of other clothing or even a ‘are you okay?’.”

The mother was left humiliated in the shop in Rugby, Warwickshire, and has since complained to the company.

FND can also cause weakness or paralysis, tremors or tics, difficulty walking, and loss of balance. 

Bianca, who was using a crutch at the time, explained her condition to staff members at the outlet but they refused her entry to the toilet.

“As I approached the till I knew instantly that my bladder retention was about to reverse and I needed to go urgently. I asked the ladies at the till if I could please discreetly use their toilet and explained I wouldn’t make it if I didn’t go immediately,” Bianca, from Rugby, continued.

“They said no and said I needed to go to a coffee shop across the road. I pleaded again explaining I definitely wouldn’t make it there but they refused. I tried to at least make it outside but only got maybe a metre and a half away from the tills before my worst fears happened. My bladder let go.

“Frustration did take over – I couldn’t believe what had happened.

“I’ve never in my life been treated in such a cold manner.”

Bianca had to call her two friends, who were in a nearby shop, to come to her aid.

The shopper, who works as a beauty therapist, added: “I’ve previously worked in retail for years and there are characteristics that are exempt from this such as, elderly, pregnant women, children and those with disabilities.

“Is it policy to further fail a customer after an accident like this by offering no compassion, no dignity or treating them like a human being?

“Left in the doorway of a shop with a sign directing people to look at the freak show, with no covering or support.”

Bianca says she was offered a new outfit from the shop which she refused to accept.

River Island, which has around 300 stores in the UK, have apologised to Bianca.

A spokesman said: “Every one of our customers matters to us and we were sorry to hear of this customer’s experience in one of our stores.

“Our Head of Customer Care is already in direct communication with this customer and we are reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure that everyone feels welcome and cared for whenever they visit our stores.”


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