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Visually impaired woman shoved onto Highbury and Islington station escalator

Commuter with guide dog who suffered cuts and bruises in fall, describes her ‘daily battle’ on public transport

27 July, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Deborah Persaud with guide dog Lewis at Highbury and Islington station

A VISUALLY impaired woman who was injured after being pushed onto the escalator at Highbury and Islington station says using public transport has become a “daily battle”.

Deborah Persaud and her guide dog Lewis were standing across both sides of the upward escalator from the Underground before she fell.

She hit her face on a step, cut her arm and suffered several bruises including around her eye. Eight-year-old Lewis was left “shaken” but he remained professional, she added.

Ms Persaud, who suffers from macular degeneration, said: “[The person responsible] did stop and, along with a number of other people, I was helped up and somebody said to me, ‘what happened?’ I said I had been pushed and this woman said, ‘no, I did not, I was helping you’.

“A man behind me said, ‘no, she did push you’. Then she disappeared off into the crowd.

“Thankfully, I was not going down – it could have been much more serious.”

Ms Persaud said this was not the first time she had been involved in such a situation on public transport.

She said: “It’s a daily battle. It’s like a contact sport as people get physical with me. It’s not a unique situation, it’s happened many times unfortunately.

“There have been times when I have changed my route or when I had a particular incident on the bus, I won’t take the bus for a few days.”

Ms Persaud, a civil servant who lives in Newington Green, said she feels there is “no point” in reporting the incidents as police need proof and said Transport for London (TfL) have not previously intervened to help find the person involved. She believes such incidents may break TfL’s conditions of carriage.

“Staff were more interested in getting the escalator started again,” she said about the incident which happened on July 11, the night of the England v Croatia football World Cup match.

Ms Persaud was left so frustrated by what happened, she took to Twitter to report the incident. TfL responded by saying they had to rely on people being “courteous and considerate” on the transport network.

However, they signed off with: “I hope you haven’t suffered any lasting injury and Lewis is OK too. I know it’s only a game but I really do hope #ItsComingHome!”

Ms Persaud told the Tribune: “I did not care less about the football!”

She has pleaded with users of the network to take more care when using public transport, such as when they are distracted by looking at their mobile phones.

“Please do ask us if we do need help,” she said.

A TfL spokeswoman said: “It’s important that customers wait behind anyone travelling with a guide dog on the escalator and not push past, so that customers with guide dogs can travel safely.

“The safety of our customers and staff is our top priority and station staff are available to help where needed.

“We’re committed to providing a transport network that is accessible for all and ask everyone to consider the needs of their fellow passengers.”

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