12 04 2008

Life as a disabled person

By Ben Russell

Redditch Advertiser, U. K.

11 April 2008

http://www.redditchadvertiser.co.uk/mostpopular.var.2191276.mostviewed.life_as_a_disabled_person.php

“People don’t understand the things we have to go through in order to be ordinary,” said Angela Drane, speaking about life as a disabled person in Redditch.

“Society doesn’t value disabled people but we bring diversity and commitment to life and show how varied it can be. People look at me and think “poor love”, but I’m alright, I have a roof over my head.”

Angela, 52, a disability consultant who has worked for the Labour Party and Bournemouth and Lancashire Police, has cerebral palsy and has been a wheelchair user for about 20 years.

Having lived in Morecambe, Lancashire, Liverpool, London and Gloucester, she now lives in Winyates.

She said: “My life is spent battling for things when it shouldn’t have to be.

“Up until recently I could lift my wheelchair which enabled me to be more independent but now I have to rely on people – it’s not ideal but I have to and the frustrating thing is, there are solutions out there.

“However, I’m confounded by a lack of facilities that make the simplest of things impossible. You need to triple the time it takes to do things, even simple things like getting up and going shopping.”

For the last year Angela has used a power chair, but still faces difficulties getting out and about.

Recently she was left stranded in the town centre for more than two-and-a-half-hours after a wheelchair accessible bus failed to turn up.

She tried to get a taxi but even though the majority of taxi companies offer wheelchair accessible vehicles they do not work after 5pm unless you book 24 hours in advance.

Angela, whose only family is a sister in Lancashire, said: “If I decide to go out I have to plan my journey and if I want to go out after 6pm I can’t, not on my own.

“Going to local shops can be difficult and that’s not even mentioning the fact that the majority of them are not wheelchair accessible. I don’t even think about going on holiday – who would I go with, would it be accessible?”

She added: “This is what a lot of people don’t realise, I have to be thinking all the time about where I’m going, what time I’ll be back, if I’m actually able to get there, has my chair got enough power to get there, and if I’ll be able to get back.”

But now hope is on the horizon for Angela as she should be getting a mobility car which will allow her to remain in her wheelchair while driving.

“It’s a great shame other facilities and shops don’t follow the example of the Shopmobility scheme in Redditch. It’s the second biggest in the country and just look at the income it brings into town,” she said.

“As soon as I get my car it will give me the ability to go where I want, when I want, and my first plan is to go to Scotland to visit friends. It will bring me not only a life but a social life, something I don’t currently have.

“At the moment I’m so busy fighting to live my life that I have no time to enjoy my life.”

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