One of our members, Sheila, shared her upsetting experience with our group members today, and we wanted to share it with you too. It highlights the plight faced by many disabled drivers and passengers, not only here in the UK, but the world over. A selfish, me first, screw you attitude that many people cultivate when behind the wheel of their chosen automobile. This is why we not only need disabled parking bays protected, we also need car parks to be more thoughtfully designed.
I was feeling exhausted, in a huge amount of pain and emotionally distraught, as I had massive flare-up of osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. I had to struggle to get some shopping in as my carer’s chemotherapy session had turned into a nightmare few weeks of double pneumonia, heart failure, sepsis and his being critically ill in a coma in ITU and he was then sent home with no support in place for him or for me, to a building site. He could not be left for long, as he was still very unwell. I also had to care for someone on the autistic spectrum who was going through something of a critical time too. I had chosen to go to LIDL as the store is easy to negotiate on my scooter and the staff know me and help me to pack or carry shopping to my car.
Unfortunately, all of the disabled spaces in the car park were full and there was no sign of anyone being likely to vacate one soon, so I checked the other spaces. All but a couple were unsuitable, as I have to be able to open my car door fully to be able to get in or out. There were two spaces at the end of a row with nothing at the side, so I waited for one of these, indicating that I was waiting . As someone pulled out of one, I moved forward slightly and lined my car up to be able to drive in forwards, so that I could get my scooter out at the rear.
As I swung round, a woman drove her huge SUV across the space and started to straighten up. I waved and said that I had been waiting for this particular space for a while and that I needed it because I am severely disabled and could not use most of the spaces., was in a hurry and most decent people would have apologised for their mistake and would have parked elsewhere. Not her. She insisted that I had to park in a disabled space! First I have heard that we are not allowed to mix with non-disabled people.
She refused to move even when asked politely.
There were still no other suitable spaces for me to use, so I stayed put, leaving her to struggle to shunt backwards and forwards many, many times, trying to get her monstrous vehicle into the space. I did observe that she might find it better to drive something less pretentious and more manoeuvrable and was pleased to inform her that she had still not managed to park properly within the space and that she had better try again, as the warden was approaching. We had gathered a crowd and I pointed out the difficulties experienced by disabled drivers and that I could not just go and park in any other available space and that her discourtesy had meant that I had had to wait for twenty minutes, when I needed to be able to get home urgently.
The culprit abandoned her car and shot into the store, looking very embarrassed, but she did not stay long as other shoppers told her off. I hope that she will be more considerate in future and that the bystanders also will be more aware of the impact that disability and the barriers presented by selfish behaviour can cause.
PLEASE if you are yet to sign AND share our petition, please do so. Disabled drivers need your support.