AN ACTRESS with dwarfism who could not reach the chip and pin machines at post office counters has had her discrimination case settled by the company.
Post Office branches are being made more accessible to disabled people after Kiruna Stamell, who has appeared in EastEnders and Moulin Rouge, sued them, claiming disability discrimination.
The Post Office thanked Stamell for bringing the issue to its attention, and has put flexible leads on the machines so their reach can now be extended. Stamell, who is a little more than a metre tall, is a screen and stage actress who has also appeared in Life’s Too Short. The actress’s solicitor said her case was of “significant wider importance”.
The performer, 33, had difficulty reaching the devices at post offices because they were fixed to the counter top. Many retailers have devices that can be detached from a holster and handed to a customer.
Stamell said: “Unfortunately, I had several negative experiences at post office counters and for many years I have had difficulty paying for their goods and services. After a couple of really upsetting experiences at various branches, I realised, something needed to change.”
She said she found one instance in a post office branch “very embarrassing”.
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She added: “There was a very large queue of people behind me. I just wanted to be able to put my pin in like everybody else and post a letter, and to withdraw cash. And so staff were improvising random steps out of cardboard boxes and it was really quite humiliating.”
She used firm Unity Law to bring a case against the Post Office under the Equalities Act 2010. “We were able to get everyone to the table and bring the needs of disabled people to the attention of the Post Office,” Stamell explained.
Her solicitor Chris Fry said: “Kiruna raised an issue of significant wider importance at a time when the minister of state for disabled people has been urging service providers to improve their accessibility, and as evidence has emerged from DisabledGo that thousands of public places have barriers in place that make it difficult for disabled people to lead ordinary lives.
“These changes brought by Kiruna’s case mean that the Post Office is now much more accessible as Britain’s 12 million disabled people are sending and receiving presents this Christmas.”
DisabledGo provides access details for UK disabled people.
The Post Office’s communications and corporate affairs director, Mark Davies, said he wanted customers who were unhappy to discuss their grievances with the company.
“We’re improving the way we listen to our customers all the time,” he said. “We are absolutely going to listen to them and I think, as in the case with Kiruna, we’ve listened to the points that she’s raised with us, we’ve taken action.”
Australian-born Stamell began her career as a dancer, winning the South Pacific Silver Star Tap Dancing Championships in 1994 and performed at the opening of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney with dance troupe Tap Dogs.
She went on to become East-Ender’s first actress with dwarfism, playing Sandra Fielding, an employee at Walford Primary School.
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