An Open Letter to the Women without a Blue Badge

Hi,

You’ve probably noticed me before wheeling around the shop in my wheelchair, a lot of the staff have a good laugh – as they should given that my partner pushes me in my wheelchair and I push the trolly. It’s quite the sight. However, I am not here to talk about what I do to entertain myself during our weekly shops.

I’ve seen your car 3/4 times, always in a disabled bay but never with a blue badge. The 1st and 2nd time I questioned whether you had forgotten to display your blue badge, if like me you suffered from brain fog or short term memory problems. However, I then saw your car the 3rd and 4th time.

I began to wonder why you parked in a disabled bay if you weren’t disabled and the options were endless. You have a long term injury and struggled to get into the store, you genuinely have a disability and are awaiting your own blue badge but needed the help of the parking space sooner, you feel exempt to the rules because you think you are just that important or you are just selfish and inconsiderate. Although I guess it could be a combination of the last two.

I saw you a few weeks ago and it turns out you’re an employee. I thought long and hard about this, I was even tempted to say something. I thought nothing would make you reconsider your decision more than if I were to ask you straight to your face why? However, I didn’t and i’m not sure what stopped me. I do regret it now but I thought to myself I will not let your actions go unnoticed, which is when I decided I would write a letter to inform your manager. Now although I haven’t done this yet please don’t think for a second that these aren’t my intentions because they are. I just figured that first I would use you as an example to teach people why you shouldn’t park in a disabled bay if you are not disabled and a blue badge holder. I also thought a copy of this open letter and a link to my blog might help you and your manager to understand why this is not ok.

So, please whilst I assume you think you are better than to read this I ask that you do.

Why You Shouldn’t Park in a Disabled Space if you are not Disabled:

  1. Going out when Chronically Ill and/or Disabled can be extremely stressful. There’s a lot to think about. You have to ensure you remember everything you need supports, medication etc. You worry about what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, how to get there and back, where you’re going to park, is it going to be close enough to your destination? As well as a numerous other things. Having a blue badge and being able to park in a disabled bay can massively help reduce this stress. Stress that most people otherwise don’t have. Knowing in most places that there is usually enough parking for disabled people is of huge benefit. You know where you’re going to park and you can usually guess the distance you will have to walk or wheel which is a big comfort.
  2. Using a disabled space isn’t just about being close enough to the shop because you’re too lazy to walk or wheel the distance. It’s about making the journey easier, less, mentally tasking and a lot less painful. When I say a lot, I mean every little helps. Just because someone looks like they walk fine, uses a walking aid or a wheelchair does not mean that they’re not in excruciating pain. That walk that you think is oh so easy but still decide to minimise is only one part of the journey. You may think simply about things but that’s not how it works. It isn’t car to shop. shopping. check out. shop to car. All of those thing add up they become one. It’s all one long journey with excruciating pain and it’s essential that any amount of that pain is minimised where possible. That quick walk or wheel that you obviously don’t want to do can be like a marathon to someone with chronic pain.
  3. Those yellow hash lines that surround a disabled parking bay? They’re not just for decoration. They are so helpful for most people with a chronic illness/disability. If your a wheelchair user it means that you are always guaranteed to be able to fit your wheelchair between two cars. This means you don’t have to walk to wherever your wheelchair is and a lot of people in a wheelchair don’t have that ability. Some people need to be able to transfer straight from the car seat into their wheelchair. If you use walking aids the extra space is brilliant to be able to open the car door wide to get things in and out of particularly if you have poor balance. It can in fact be helpful to anyone with a chronic illness/disability who needs the space to get in and out of the car, open the door fully, access anything they need from the car.

Too many people seem to think that using a disabled bay when they don’t hold a blue badge is ok, it’s not. It doesn’t matter if you’ve used it before, used it all day, were just a few minutes, waiting for someone or whatever other rubbish excuse you’re going make. The answer is and will always be no, it is not ok to park in a disabled parking bay if you are not disabled. 

I feel there is a misconception that people who use disabled parking bays are privileged. We are not privileged and if you think for a second we are then please I invite you to walk a minute in my shoes, although I can guarantee you wouldn’t last that long.

Parking in a disabled bay when you are not disabled is not ok. It doesn’t matter what your excuse is, it will never be ok. I know you give little thought to it when you do which goes to show how naive you are when it comes to disability. I hope you take this letter seriously and a lesson can be learnt. It has given me this opportunity to raise awareness of this matter however, I shouldn’t have to.

Holly

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