…and a great parking place

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There are a lot of assumptions made about disability by able bodied people. A common one is how great it would be to have a free parking space near the shops. Let me debunk that one first. Most councils now charge for blue badge spaces in car parks and they are not always nearer to the shops. Yes, it’s true, if you can find space on a yellow line you can park for a limited time. But that’s a big if and you still can’t block roads or cause problems. Probably the biggest advantage should be blue badge spaces in supermarkets, but often they are full or being used by non badge holders. They don’t tend to be policed well. So you don’t really get a great parking space.

Another assumption is that you get lots of Government cash, benefits, grants etc. But what that ignores is the cost of everything with a disability tag. Put the word disabled in front of it and any product is loaded in price. Holidays, when possible at all are complex and often expensive. If, like me you need hoists and wet rooms, the property availability is short and price loaded. Travel should be the same price as for able bodied, but sometimes it’s only possible by taxi. When I was able to walk I used to walk for miles, often choosing to park a long way from town centres. If you can drive then often cars need adaptation. Yes there is Motability which can provide a car, but many people don’t realise that is paid for from your disability benefits, it’s not a free car. So yes there is extra government money for disability, but it doesn’t cover all that you need for such a limited life. You might argue that other countries have even less. If that is your way of looking at life, then so be it. I would rather aim higher.

Then there is the assumption that being in a wheelchair or a bed must be a restful option. The number of times people have looked longingly at me when I have wheeled and they have walked along and they say things like: ‘oh you’re so lucky, I wish I could ride along.’ Or  ‘can I have a lift?’ Disability is a complete package, pain, inconvenience, limitations, frustrations, and everything that entails. You don’t get to just choose the riding along in a wheelchair bit. Or lying in bed bit. In fact before I was ill I never managed to stay in bed very long, except to sleep. I never lay in, so being in bed all the time is a trial for me not a luxury.

So if you are thinking disability sounds desirable or a bit of a doss; think again. No one in their right mind would chose a long term illness or disability. People might pretend to be ill to get benefits. But such cases are very rare. Much rarer than they appear from the frequency of reporting. It is much more common for people and companies to cheat on their taxes and defraud the government in other ways. No we are not to be envied, but I am not asking for pity either. What’s needed is respect and understanding. No one can fully understand another without living their life; that cuts both ways I know. I respect and understand the hard work of those who are able to work. Respect is a two way thing.

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