'Rule needs changing across the UK' after woman claims she was refused entry to Knowsley Safari Park

Ellie Greenaway who was left 'in tears' after a visit to Knowsley Safari Park
Ellie Greenaway was 'in tears' after a visit to Knowsley Safari Park -Credit:Ellie Greenaway

People think a rule needs changing across the UK after a woman claimed she was refused entry to Knowsley Safari Park.

Ellie Greenaway, from St Helens, visited the park on Tuesday, April 3, and claims that she was refused entry as she did not have a Nimbus Card, despite showing a PIP letter and being in a wheelchair in an adapted vehicle.

Knowsley Safari Park said all carers attending the park are required to have a Nimbus Access Card, and this information is available on its website and during the ticket booking. A spokesperson for the park added it would be happy to look into the incident further with more information.

READ MORE: Cupholders in couple's van appeared perfectly normal until police looked more closely

READ MORE: Kids can't play outside because area smells 'eye wateringly bad'

Ellie said: “As we arrived there was a sign saying online tickets only so we booked our tickets just before entering. I was told by the lady on the desk that I needed a Nimbus card as proof of my disability to access the park. I told her I didn’t have that but I had my PIP disability letter and she just refused it.”

Ellie claimed a second staff member showed "absolutely no empathy or compassion" towards her even though she was "so upset and crying."

Ellie added: “The fact that I was strapped into my wheelchair in my accessible car wasn’t enough either! I feel so frustrated that I have been treated this way.”

A Nimbus Access Card, developed by Nimbus Disability, aims to offer a universal and consistent way for disabled people to evidence and communicate their access requirements both quickly and discreetly.

The card is widely recognised at many of the UK's leisure and tourism venues, with a large number of them allowing online integration and booking for disabled people. According to Knowsley Safari Park’s website, it partnered with Nimbus to develop a new essential companion ticket that would be free for carers of disability, effective from January 1 this year.

While some ECHO readers argued this policy has been stated on the safari park’s website for some time, others said they were not aware of a Nimbus card and discretion should have been used in this case.

Ellie claims she was left 'so upset and crying'
Ellie claims she was left 'so upset and crying' -Credit:Ellie Greenaway

Commenter Rlfan75 said: “A disabled badge for the car should be enough. I agree they need to know about disability for rescue purposes, but this sounds like Knowsley has screwed up big time.”

Another said: “I've registered disabled for more than 20 years and have never heard of or been asked about a Nimbus Card. The existence of this card needs to be much better publicised. I think staff in many businesses need to undertake appropriate disability training.

"I am disabled and my wife is disabled and I undertook the training through work. I learned an incredible amount about how many disabilities are not visible or obvious. .If any employer is reading this I would encourage you to provide training for your staff.”

Writing on the ECHO’s Facebook page, Anna Murray said: “We've been before. I've not heard of Nimbus. Surely they could use discretion.”

Alison L Doughty said: “We live down south and all you need to provide is a photo of your blue badge as of course blue badge in the car. This is ridiculous for this lady, surely they could see she was disabled and needed a carer.”

David Mills added: “The fact she had a PIP letter should of been proof enough.”

Ian Prescott said: “Looks like she's arrived in a wheelchair accessible vehicle and valid PIP paperwork, all that's needed is a bit of common sense from the safari park staff, and perhaps remind her she needs a Nimbus Card next time.”

Others were unhappy at the price of a Nimbus Access Card, which costs £15 for three years use. Commenter N7676b said: “I have got a Nimbus Card which costs £15 for 3 years and it has all your disability requirements on it (I.e. wheelchair user). But saying that, I always check the accessibility of places I want to visit and check what proof of disability they need. A PIP letter or blue badge is usually what they ask for. A lot of people don't know about this card and it isn't free either.”

Joanne Griffiths said: “Why should disabled people have to pay £15 for a card to prove their disability, instead of using an official DLA or PIP letter? It seems unfair that they have to bear this additional cost just to enjoy a day out. The official letter should be sufficient proof.”

Others argued this incident proves there needs to be one universal ID for disabled people. Gemma Molloy said: “The whole point of this story is that there should be ONE universal way of providing evidence of disability to access these things.

“It is so confusing as it’s not even made aware of what you need for where sometimes. There’s too many options and the nimbus process isn’t easy I’ve been told.”

Hannah Elizabeth added: “Actually the whole disabled and carers entry to things need to be looked at across the whole of the UK. Some people accept access cards, some only a blue badge, some only DLA PIP paperwork, some other cards you have to apply for weeks in advance. I don't see why there isn't just ONE ID for disabled/carer across the UK, it's mad! It does make booking days out anywhere a right faff!”

A spokesperson for the safari park commenting on Ellie's claims said: “We’re proud to offer free guest access for essential companions, which is facilitated through the Nimbus Disability Access Card Scheme. Essential companions are required to provide the Access Card at the entrance and details about this are available on our website and during the ticket booking process.

“We are sorry to hear that Ellie’s experience was not the one she hoped for and certainly not the experience that we strive to deliver. If Ellie or her essential companion would like to contact us and provide further information about what happened, this is something we’ll look straight into.”

Don't miss the biggest and breaking stories by signing up to the Echo Daily newsletter here