Almost half of the people with multiple sclerosis (MS) surveyed in the north of Ireland have been challenged by the general public for parking in a disabled bay – even though they’re eligible.
Locally, Cliona Evans, has had people stare and shout at her, even though she was diagnosed with MS nine years ago, aged 20.
She said, “People can be very quick to judge. It causes me stress and anxiety which in turn can bring on an array of MS symptoms. I’ve actually driven past disabled spots before as I felt there were too many people around judging me so I didn’t really didn’t have the confidence to park in one.
“Most of my symptoms could be described as ‘invisible’. Fatigue is my main symptom, with mental and physical exhaustion coming over me from nowhere. It really is relentless at times.
“Parking closer to places I need to go to really does make the world of difference to me as my legs get numb from walking and I tend to stumble quite a bit.”
A separate poll by the charity of more than 2,000 members of the public found that almost half (48%) of people in NI couldn’t identify one symptom of the neurological condition which affects 100,000 people in the UK and can include problems with mobility and balance, eyesight, bladder control and extreme fatigue.
Brenda Maguire, Policy and Campaigns Manager, at the MS Society said, “People with disabilities rely on protected parking to be able to live independently. While they might appear to be fine, people are often struggling with severe fatigue or problems with their balance and mobility.
“MS presents people with enough daily challenges to overcome; the last thing people need is society to place further barriers on them, making it even harder than it needs to be to live life to the full.”
For more information about the MS Society go to: www.mssociety.org.uk