Nottinghamshire County Council is the first authority in the country to provide disabled people, specifically those who have non-obvious disabilities, with photo ID cards that can be used, if required, to prove their entitlement to disabled facilities and services.
This pioneering scheme was launched last summer and has so far provided 1,200 people with the cards. The success of the scheme is evident in the fact that the council have recently employed another member of staff to help deal with the demand for the cards. The scheme has now also received national recognition.
The idea for this scheme came from Terry Gallagher, a resident of Arnold, Nottinghamshire, who has had his bladder and large intestine removed but does not require a wheelchair or walking aid. He said of the scheme “The council deserves a tremendous amount of credit for doing this. I know a lady who suffers very badly from asthma who found a disabled seat on the bus and started using her inhaler. A group of young mums started calling her names for using the seat, but the poor woman was fighting to breathe and was so frightened she wouldn’t go out. But she now has a disability card and is able to go out because she has the confidence. It is a wonderful scheme.”
As I am a wheelchair user I have no reason to explain my disability, it’s quite obvious that I require certain facilities – the disabled space on a bus for example. However I can understand that for many others, things are aren’t so straightforward, as explained in the example given by Mr Gallagher of the lady being bullied on the bus.
I remember reading a blog on here by a fellow Trailblazer a while ago on the same subject, mentioning they felt hesitant to ask for a seat, as standing during longer journeys on the Tube was tiring. This was because of the worry of being questioned or not believed at all! Maybe this scheme will help remove that apprehension and worry, as it will straightaway clear any doubts other people may have. Though of course it is very sad that society has become so cynical and distrusting. It should really be common sense that someone would only ask for a seat because they need it.
Nevertheless, carrying one these cards would of course go some way to eliminate any worry disabled people may have, and of course prevent any abuse from the public when someone who has a ‘hidden’ disability requests a seat on the bus/train, a key for the disabled toilets, or any service they are entitled to.
The success of this scheme over the past year In Nottinghamshire may convince other county councils in the UK to offer the same.
Find out more about the scheme.
By Jagdeep Kaur Sehmbi