DEBBIE Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, is backing calls for the blue badge parking scheme to cover people with non-physical conditions, like dementia and autism.
She is speaking out over the issue about being approached by constituent Barrie Wild from Dobcross, who has dementia and struggled with the scheme’s assessment process.
Mrs Abrahams, who is also Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, explained: “I’m backing the idea that people with non-physical conditions, such as dementia and autism, should be eligible for a blue badge to help them with parking.
“As it stands the process for getting a blue badge can vary across the country as the national criteria is not clear on physical and non-physical conditions.
“Barrie went through the assessment process recently but was left drained and upset by the series of tests used by the current system.
“Creating a blue badge system that is the same across the country should make the assessments easier for people with these non-physical conditions, and for councils too, if they operate under one clearly defined process.”
Age UK helped Barrie fill out an application form and he went for an assessment at the Link Centre in Oldham with his wife and carer Val.
She said: “Barrie was asked to do a walking test and informed that his walking was satisfactory, which we presume meant he was fit enough not to be eligible!
“One thing I’m really concerned about is that the carer is not allowed to have any input during the interview which shows no regard for the person being assessed and no understanding of the condition they have.
“By the time we got home Barrie was exhausted and upset. As Barrie’s carer I should be able to help him deal with the assessment process and help the assessor understand what Barrie’s needs are.”
Barrie, who has poor balance and falls over sometimes, is keen to spread the word about the consultation and encourage people to take part.
He said: “I didn’t qualify for a blue badge at my assessment but if new legislation is passed then maybe I would.
“I don’t think people understand how difficult it is doing everyday tasks such as shopping or going to visit friends which can often lead to headaches and disorientation.
“Having a blue badge would make life so much easier for me and for Val who cares for me.”
The government is holding a consultation on the blue badge scheme until 18 March 2018 and Mrs Abrahams, who has made creating a dementia-friendly Oldham one of her top ten priorities, is keen that as many people as possible take part.
uu To take part, go online: