The Simon Heng Column

Last week, the Department for Work and Pensions took over a section of The Guardian’s Society pages to ask of disability rights: “Is there anything left to fight for?” Given the enhancement of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the publication of Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People and the establishment of the Office for Disability Issues, do disabled people have all they need to be equal, active members of society?

Soon after I had seen this, I went shopping. As usual, the blue badge parking bays were scarce. As my personal assistant was putting bags into my car, I noticed that the luxury saloon in the next space wasn’t displaying a blue badge.

If I meet them, I always ask the perpetrators why they aren’t showing a blue badge. Confronted by a wheelchair user, they usually have the decency to feel embarrassed and mumble some excuse about having a sore foot, or shopping for their invalid granny, or the best of all, “well, nobody was using the space, so I thought I’d just nip in quickly…” (well, no disabled person can use the space while you’re parked there!).

This time, the response was “I’ve got a blue badge, but you don’t need to display it at weekends”. The response from his partner was even more interesting. “Mind your own business! It’s people like you who…” The rest of her sentence was inaudible as she was bundled into the car in readiness for a speedy departure.

I wanted to know what she thought about people like me. I suppose that she thinks we don’t deserve special treatment. She might believe that we shouldn’t be allowed to mix with “normal” people. She might think that we are a burden on society and should be put down, like unwanted pets. Who knows? This woman clearly believes that we shouldn’t try to defend allowances that are made for us, like the blue badge scheme, particularly if it means she has to walk 20 yards further.

When anyone starts a sentence with the words “It’s people like you…”, you know that prejudice still exists.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.