Disabled parking bay

“Want my space? Take my disability!”

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.

Going shopping

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!

I hope you’ll join the group, sign the petition and follow us on Twitter. After all, the more people the louder the voice!

Photo by Elliot Brown.

24 thoughts on ““Want my space? Take my disability!””

  1. So happy and relieved to read this. At least I’m not alone any more. I’ve complained to traffic wardens and police at different times and got absolutely nowhere. Thank you so much for doing this, I’m so pleased to join in.

    1. there are a lot of fit oap’s out there who would love the job of monitoring the disabled parking spaces. why don’t the eg-supermarkets do this. I now get my shopping online because I was fed up of not being able to park. I spent 4 hours the final time watching for a car to move that didn’t have a badge. all to no avail – but maybe it could have been a worker in the supermarket !.

      1. Car parks in supermarkets do not normally belong to the supermarket so they are not interested who parks where.Read the notice board in the car parks telling you how long can park,that usually tells you who they belong to and inform them.

  2. We also get lookd at as our children’s conditions are not on outside there on inside not visable CYSTIC FIBROSIS how many times , some people are just so rude .

  3. here we go again abuse blue badge spaces will continue until this government and others do something about it they not policed and therefore will continue to be abused hopefully you can get the message acrossI doubt it

    1. Hi Ron,

      Have a read of the petition, our aims are very clear and we want the law changed. There are now almost 2,500 signatures, why not add yours? But don’t just add your signature, spread the word and tell people why IT IS so important that the law is changed and this essential facility is protected for all disabled drivers.

      Chris

  4. I’ve just recently received my blue badge since my mobility has decreased significantly (I have a genetic condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which affects connective tissue). I am dreading using it since unless I am using my crutches I look pretty normal. I have been out with a friend who also has a blue badge and experienced horrible comments from the general public about how we’re scroungers/faking it etc. Elderly people seem to be the worst – it’s as if they think you can’t be young and disabled!

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that currently the law doesn’t actually cover disabled spaces in private car parks/supermarkets etc. It SHOULD but it doesn’t. So I guess it’s up to the owner of the car park (ie the supermarket) to actually enforce the disabled spaces. The attitude and laziness of some people is just astonishing. Who cares if they’re just ‘nipping in’ to get some milk etc? They can still walk from a normal car park space. The extra minutes walk isn’t going to cause them to be in agony or exhausted! It’s nuts that they think they have a ‘right’ to use the space when others have a genuine need for it.

    1. I approached a manager at local Aldi store some time ago and his reply was “as long as they are spending money here I am not bothered who parks there” I did not shop there for a very long time and the Manager changed and I am a wheelchair user.

      1. What a terrible attitude John. I hope you contacted ASDA to let them know? I had a ‘discussion’ with a Tesco store manager today. I asked him why an able bodied person’s custom was more valued than mine and why he allowed constant abuse of spaces on his site.

        Please pop over to the petition and sign it and let people know why you also feel it is important. The more voices (signatures) the louder the cry for change.

        Chris

  5. Good cause but can’t sign due to the emergency vehicle bit. If there’s an emergency, emergency vehicles need to park as close as possible. The person they’re potentially rescuing needs that spot more than anyone.

    1. Very well said, Dan. Whilst I applaud Chris for his efforts and in setting up a Facebook group, I have just had to quit his Facebook group due to a whole load of attacks and abuse from the members against each other, all arguing over things like police cars parked in disabled bays, even a photo of a Mesarati parked in a disabled bay, despite there being a disabled Blue Badge in the windscreen. Arguements ranged from “They can’t possibly be disabled to own a Meserati!” to “No way can a disabled person afford one of them!” and “There’s no way a disabled person could get in and out of a Meserati!”. There’s a lot of jumping to conclusions and assumptions made, leading to members really attacking each other.

      It’s really a shame because it shows the disabled cannot be united for a cause. I’d recommend staying clear of the Facebook group unless you love a good arguement.

    2. Have a re-read Dan. The petition calls not only for the law to be enforced, but also for it to be improved. It also calls for changes to be made where appropriate to car parks to allow a specific area for emergency vehicles. If you find us on Twitter @Spaces4Disabled you’ll see an image we tweeted of a local car park which has done this with ease.

      Thanks for your interest!

  6. I to have a blue badge and like you use a wheelchair I wouldn’t get out at all if it wasn’t for my car and blue badge. I hate it when people park for ‘Just a minute’. As I am young people look at me when getting out of the car as they seem to think I am using someone else’s badge and a few have even asked to see it!!! to check the picture.
    It is about time people realised that they are there for a reason and not there for their convenience.

    1. Many of the group members are in the same position Michelle, Unfortunately people are so quick to decide you are ‘not disabled enough’ or ‘too young to be disabled’ and it is not right. Whilst we cannot change that perception on our own, many of the group members have found encouragement by talking to each other about this, making good friends too. Why not pop by?

  7. HI all just a question that came up when I was at a local supermarket & I would value your advice. Its more about the hidden disabilities that people may have , an example is that those that are deaf suffer may also from dizziness & can’t walk far but are particularly are at risk as they don’t hear cars or people for that matter coming up behind them. Most disabled parking spaces are next to walkways and help to keep you away from traffic. I am not sure if they would actually qualify for disabled parking but it would be very easy for people to assume they are not disabled and just using the space. Would they qualify for the blue badge ? The supermarket in question said they wanted to support everyone who was disabled so they would not question that person being able to park there.

  8. i have a lad with a tracheostomy at 17 ,, i cant get a badge as he can walk 200 metres!! so we carry 2 bags of equipment!!!! how do yiu get a blue badge seriously????

    1. Oh Janet that’s awful. There are many folks in the group in very similar situations to yours. The group isn’t perfect, but there are a lot of people determined to encourage and help others like you. Even if it is just a chat when you need it. Why not pop by and say Hello?

      facebook.com/groups/disabled.spaces4disabled

  9. A blue badge is issued if you receive the high rate of the mobility part of DLA/PiP or by applying to your local council/social services and it is down to how far you can walk and this is I believe 50 metres and being reduced to 20 metres.
    I also seem to get the most amount of abuse from OAP’s, whilst getting my wheelchair from the boot of my car, an old man approached and said “can’t you see the #*£&## sign”, its unreal how people can be like that.
    Chris is doing an amazing job and yes there has been photos of police cars in disabled bays, but no emergency.
    We need to pull together and be one voice, there are many issues that would be brought to light if the disabled community worked together!

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