Butlins say bye-de-bye as group turned away after 30 years

Christina Staniland with her son Gary
Christina Staniland with her son Gary
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A GROUP of Sheffield people with learning disabilities has been turned away from their annual September holiday at Butlins in Skegness - because their presence is ‘intimidating’ to families with young children.

A party from a weekly club which meets at Firth Park’s Milan Centre every Friday night has enjoyed an annual week on the Lincolnshire coast for the last 19 years - but this year’s trip has been cancelled by camp managers.

Butlins says the group of 26 people looked after by 10 carers has simply grown too large - and they would still be happy to take them in two batches.

But the mum of one of the club members says the issue has never been raised before and that for many of them it is their only chance of a holiday.

Christina Staniland, aged 86, said her 59-year-old son Gary, who has Down’s Syndrome, has been on the trip for the last five years.

“It is the highlight of his year. They all have a lovely time and he can’t wait to go. He wishes he could go every week,” she said at the family home in Raisen Hall Road, Longley.

“This year everyone has paid their money and booked the coaches. When the club members were told they couldn’t go this year they became very upset and some were crying.

“Some of them never go on any other holiday and all they talk about from one week to the next is Butlins.

“The managers told us they hadn’t got enough staff and that people find the group intimidating, but I think it is a case of discrimination.”

Mrs Staniland said the claim was that children were intimidated, but in September when the group, organised by Sheffield Futures, went there were very few families with children on holiday.

“The holiday is also important for the club members’ families - as a carer the week gives me a welcome break too,” she added.

A spokeswoman for Butlins said the Skegness resort had welcomed groups of adults from the Milan Centre for many years.

“The group size has been growing in recent years and has hit 36 this year. Our resorts are very family-focused and our terms and conditions specify that large adult-only groups are accepted at the resort director’s discretion.

“During term time we have large numbers of tots and toddlers on our family breaks and feedback from our guests shows that the children on these breaks often find large all-adult groups very intimidating.

“This information combined with a growing group size from the Milan Centre means that we are unable to accept this group unless they come in two smaller groups on different breaks,” she added.