For the tenth anniversary of International Wheelchair Day on Thursday 1 March, national charity The British Polio Fellowship is marking the positive impact the wheelchair has had on the lives of members, but also repeating its call for greater accessibility. With it comes a lightweight foldable power wheelchair ideal for those who have had Polio and now have Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), as well as other neurological conditions and accessibility issues. Since 2008 International Wheelchair Day has been marked from Africa to Australia, from the UK to the USA. Thousands of the charity’s members paralysed by Polio have relied on wheelchairs for independence and increasingly more need a wheelchair thanks to the onset of PPS, which affects 120,000 UK Polio survivors. While some people with PPS can walk, the debilitating nature of the condition means many could benefit from a wheelchair, but may not be eligible for a NHS chair or be able to afford the one that’s right for them.

“The wheelchair has been transforming the lives of members for 80 years but there are people with specific needs, with limited mobility, who for various reasons, may not be entitled to an NHS wheelchair,” said Head of Support Services at The British Polio Fellowship, Ahmad Butt. “BPF Trading was launched to address this problem and for this year’s International Wheelchair Day, A lightweight folding wheelchair, SQPC07A (the hedgehog) is now available for our members, and also others with similar neurological conditions who could benefit.” The charity continues to campaign on accessibility rights after a spate of accessibility issues for members in 2017. A flexible wheelchair is part of a twin approach of pressing for changes in attitudes, while developing in tandem the next generation of assistive technologies. “This wheelchair is not intended to compete with or replace NHS solutions,” added Ahmad.

“But rather to deliver a mobility boost to a sadly neglected group with in an appropriate, lightweight and affordable package. On 1 March, we are remembering the millions who could benefit from a wheelchair and why it matters. Limited mobility is a big factor in the loneliness crisis we face and a lightweight motorised wheelchair can transform lives,” concluded Ahmad.

The Aims of International Wheelchair Day

  • To enable wheelchair users to celebrate the positive impact a wheelchair has in their lives.
  • To celebrate the great work of the many millions of people who provide wheelchairs, who provide support and care for wheelchair users and who make the World a better and more accessible place for people with mobility issues.
  • To acknowledge and react constructively to the fact there are many tens of millions of people in the World who need a wheelchair, but are unable to acquire one.