Alex Barker

Alex Barker

In July 2015 Facial Palsy UK volunteer Alex Barker was enjoying a summer break in Falmouth, Cornwall. This is a place very close to his heart because he graduated there in 1998. He decided to visit a local pub for a quiet pint of Cornish beer but was immediately asked to leave because staff thought he was “under the influence”.

Alex has a condition called Moebius syndrome and what he describes as a “blank expression” on his face and a slightly unusual walk. Now in his 40’s, this is the first time Alex has been refused a drink in a pub. However, this is not the first time Facial Palsy UK has heard of this happening and hence the reason we launched Claire’s card in March 2015.

The card was requested by a young woman (Claire) who was thrown out of a nightclub because security staff had not seen facial palsy before, they thought she was drunk. It’s credit card size with information about facial palsy and the different ways it can affect a person.

How does Alex want to make a difference?

Alex wants to raise awareness about his experience in Falmouth which left him feeling very upset. Alex is a very confident and independent person, but he said this could easily put someone off going out again. In July 2015 he travelled with Changing Faces from his home town of Coventry back to Falmouth. Changing Faces is a charity for people and families who are living with conditions, marks or scars that affect the appearance of their face or body. En route Alex visited different pubs who were happy to #ServeAlex in Worcester, Bristol, Taunton, Exeter, Bodmin and Truro, with the purpose of raising awareness. On Sunday 26 July he returned to Falmouth and there was a photo call outside a different public house – ‘The Seven Stars Pub’ – where staff are committed to raising awareness. Alex was interviewed by various television and radio stations. Facial Palsy UK and Changing Faces also gave television and radio interviews about this campaign.

With input from Facial Palsy UK, Changing Faces have published Guidelines for Licensees to help publicans and door staff understand their legal responsibilities as well as ensuring that all customers are made to feel welcome. Download here.

Last reviewed: 17-11-2019    ||    Next review due: 17-11-2022