Guest post from Chris Welch who is campaigning for the law to be enforced to stop people using disabled parking spaces when they shouldn’t.
I am registered disabled and I use crutches or my wheelchair to get around. I am married and have five children aged 3 to 10 years. If it wasn’t for my car, I’d never get out anywhere, especially when winter comes. But let’s backtrack a bit.
Have you heard of the spoon theory? It rings true with a lot of disabled people, including myself. The idea is that you’ve 12 spoons per day and each spoon represents part of your energy allowance for the day. A lot of people with disabilities have a very limited amount of energy, so everyday activities are a huge challenge.
My nearest superstore is a mere five minute drive away. I get up and get dressed and take my medications and my wife kindly fixes me some breakfast; out of the 12 spoons I had at the start of the day I have used at least three already.
I drive over to the supermarket from my house. I arrive to find that not one of the disabled drivers parking spaces is free. I search for a space near enough and without any other vehicles near it so that I can park my car and get my wheelchair out with the help of my wife. The whole car park is on a slight incline, not enough to notice in a car, but you notice it when you’re pushing a full trolley and even more so when you are attempting to get to the shop in a self-propelled wheelchair.
On my way to the shop I notice many of the cars parked in disabled spaces do not have the necessary blue badge displayed. I am already exhausted from the short trip across the car park when the driver bounds back to his car. “Excuse me, do you realise that this space is reserved for the disabled?” I ask. “Yeah but I was only a few minutes getting some cash out mate” responds the offender and he gets in his car and drives off. His ‘few minutes’ just happened to coincide with my attempt to find somewhere to park.
I had to do something about it
The extra exertion to get from my car to the shop means I cannot immediately join my wife shopping, so she has to leave me in the coffee shop. Whilst I am sat there I feel the waves of fatigue pressuring me to sleep. I sip my coffee and then I begin to feel something else. Anger.
I was sick of hearing “I’ll only be five minutes”, “I’m just getting some cash out” or the one that really annoys me “I’m waiting for someone” – as if that makes any difference! Why is it that people feel it is okay to park in our spaces?
After speaking to other disabled drivers, locally and online, I realised I was not alone. Disabled parking is so often abused it has become the norm for those with disabilities to put up with.
So I created a Facebook group called “Want My Space? Take My Disability!” for the disabled drivers fed up with the situation, their partners and carers, from all over the UK. The group has become a place for sharing experiences, ideas and friendly conversation.
Petitioning the Government
As the numbers in the group grew I began to realise just taking pictures of offending cars and posting them to the group to embarrass the offenders was not enough. We started a petition with the aim of getting the law changed, to protect those who view these spaces not as a perk but as utterly essential.
There are a few aspects to the petition, but basically it calls for the UK Government to enforce the law and stop disabled parking space abuse. The petition also calls for changes to be made to ensure the facilities provided meet a minimum standard.
This is a national problem and the Government needs to realise there are a lot of disgruntled disabled drivers who’ve had enough of the selfishness. At the time of writing the petition stands at over 1100 signatures and the group has over 500 members.
We are even on Twitter @Spaces4Disabled! It is of course early days yet, but I am confident as more hear about it, the group and the signatures will grow.
Then we can tackle something else!