Hasland mum’s outrage as son’s food allergy not handled properly

Eight-year-old Alexander Hawkins, left, has a peanut allergy and staff at Staveley Healthy Living Centre could not cater for his dietry requirements. Pictured with younger brother Arthur and mum Michelle.
Eight-year-old Alexander Hawkins, left, has a peanut allergy and staff at Staveley Healthy Living Centre could not cater for his dietry requirements. Pictured with younger brother Arthur and mum Michelle.
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“If he had a physical disability I think they would have done all the can to accommodate him but because it was food related I feel like they didn’t care.”

Michelle Hawkins, 39, is disappointed with how her son’s peanut allergy was dealt with at a birthday party.

Her son, Alexander, eight, is allergic to the most dangerous proteins found in peanuts and when he attended his cousin’s birthday party at the weekend, staff at Staveley Healthy Living Centre, on Barlow Road would not cater for him.

She said: “Their method of risk approach was a flat out refusal to feed my son.

“I could understand if there was hot food and people couldn’t be sure of what was in the dishes but it was a kids buffet of sandwiches and crisps, it made him feel very singled out when he had to take his own packed lunch.”

The allergy has affected Xander since he was a baby and the reaction to eating peanuts is so severe that he has to carry an epi-pen with him at all times.

Michelle said: “He has to wear an armband at school so people know he has a severe allergy and he rarely gets invited round to other people’s houses as parents are scared what might happen so he misses out on a lot.

“I rang the centre before the party and told them about his allergy and they just said they didn’t cater for any child with food allergies which is very sad as this can be dealt with if people are educated properly about the risks - but they just didn’t want to know.”

The family now have no peanuts in the house and are careful with what other nut products they eat.

The mum-of-two said: “If he had a physical disability I think they would have done all the can to accommodate him but because it was food related I feel like they didn’t care.

“I know there is a worry from there point of view in case something does happen to Xander but I even offered to pay so he could have a special lunch brought out with the other children so he didn’t feel excluded but they said no to that.”

Staveley Healthy Living Centre is run by Chesterfield Borough Council and Councillor Chris Ludlow, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing said: “We have a policy at our sports centres where we will cater for allergies as far as possible.

“However, in cases such as this where a child has a severe peanut allergy, we cannot guarantee that food served will be completely free of nuts so to avoid a possible severe allergic reaction, we ask parents to provide a packed lunch for their children.

“Most parents are happy with this arrangement and we are sorry if we have caused any offence.”