I am delighted to have been given the opportunity by Able Magazine publisher, Steve Craven and his colleagues at Primas Media to write this editorial about the work of the Disabled Motorists Federation (DMF) and Mobility Support Information Service (MASIS) for inclusion in the first edition of the new publication ‘DriveAble’ and wish them every success in the future with the magazine.
By Peter Lyne
My colleague from the Disabled Motorists Federation, John Killick, has also contributed editorial. However, John is writing from a different perspective. Not only as a former carer for his late (and very sadly missed) wife, Roma, but also as someone who has a great deal more experience than I where addressing issues relating to the transportation of disabled people is concerned. He has also gained considerable first-hand knowledge whilst travelling overseas.
I am regarded as a disabled person, having been diagnosed with a mild neurological condition in 2007. Although being prevented from driving by the DVLA for almost three years following my diagnosis, I do not need to drive a highly adapted motor vehicle, which even those companies associated with the adapted vehicle industry agree is a very specialised and as such, limited market. Most people with physical disabilities can drive non-adapted vehicles, or where the need of the disabled passenger (being driven by a non-disabled driver) is concerned, a high percentage of such individuals do have the capabilities of accessing a standard specification vehicle or ‘transferring’ from a wheelchair or other mobility aid.
Over the last 11 years, since when I became associated with the Disabled Motorists Federation (DMF) (and continuing to serve as the charity’s National Vice-President since being appointed in 2005), I have established many friendly relationships with not only commercial companies associated with the mobility sector, but perhaps more importantly with the charity, Motability. I have ensured that Motability is featured on the websites of both the Disabled Motorists Federation (www.dmfed.org.uk) as well as that of the other charity I founded: Mobility and Support Information Service (www.masis.org.uk). It was in January 2006 that I considered it a privilege to be invited by two of Motability’s senior directors to attend the charity’s first annual awards dinner at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London. Further discussions have raised issues relating to finding ways to create more accessible means of motoring for disabled people.
As someone who has served on many central government advisory panels since 2006 onwards which have addressed a diverse range of subjects, including accessible rail travel, healthcare matters and more recently in 2013 serving as member of an ‘expert’ panel addressing matters relating to the introduction of Personal Independence Payments (PIP), I am certain that readers of DriveAble will appreciate from a charity as well as a personal perspective, I have to remain totally non-political where opportunities to ‘air’ my views are concerned. However, I do realise that the personal motoring requirements of disabled people are being subjected to severe restrictions as to who receives the relevant and most appropriate assistance required. Many readers of this magazine will doubtless be aware of the 50 metre to 20 metre assessment as far as walking capabilities are concerned. (I do not think I have to elaborate any further on this very emotive subject!)
My definition of mobility is that of being able to move within communities and societies. I believe it is essential that disabled people, irrespective of the severity or nature of their disability (and many thousands of individuals have more than one disability to contend with) be given equal opportunities to be included in society as non-disabled people.
Social inclusion, equality and diversity are among the most common words I use when participating in forums. More recently, I am now being invited to present on such topics to university students undertaking degree studies in nursing, medicine, occupational health and physiotherapy etc. Correct and appropriate transport solutions (whether they are privately owned or public transport services) also indirectly lead to creating safer societies. As an active and long-serving ‘lay’ advisor to the Merseyside and Cheshire Regional Office of the Crown Prosecution Service I have read through many case notes relating to incidents where hate crimes have been committed against disabled and vulnerable people when they have attempted to gain access to social and community life.
Many consultant physicians and surgeons I have entered into discussions with over the last 10 years are keen to emphasise that it is not just the medical or surgical intervention which the patient receives that improves their quality of life but finding ways to increase and improve the self-esteem and wellbeing of the lifestyles of disabled people and individuals with long-term health conditions. Consequently, if, as in the case of the needs of non-disabled people are addressed enabling them to gain access to education, employment, healthcare, sport and recreation and any other requirements that they need within their daily lives, then why should the needs of disabled people be any different?
The simple answer is that they should not be.
During the last eight or nine years I have met with and attempted to encourage the development of commercial relationships with vehicle manufacturers as well as used car dealerships in an attempt to develop more favourable personal transport solutions to cater for the needs of disabled people. With deep regret and much frustration, my requests have been continuously ignored. (Prior to redundancy in 2006, I was employed within the insurance sector of the motor trade for over 25 years). It is important to realise that fewer than 5% of the UK’s disabled population have access to the services of Motability, which although still unique to the UK, has a declining number of members as Personal independence Payment (PIP) assessments are undertaken.
Nothing would please me more than to receive contact from motor trade representatives (including vehicle manufacturers) and to have the opportunity to help towards improving the lifestyles of disabled people (their carers and families). Both the Disabled Motorists Federation and Mobility and Support Information Service also welcome commercial opportunities and networking with service providers and representatives from the charity and ‘not for profit’ sectors.
I look forward to receiving responses.
The Disabled Motorists Federation (DMFed) is a national registered charity established over 40 years ago. They formed as an advisory for disabled drivers on specific motoring issues and are part of an extensive network of associations with other charities, NGO’s and commercial organisations.
Benefits of membership can be found at: www.disabledmotoristsfederation.org.uk