A couple of months ago, Kieran Parkinson raised an issue in an Everybody Counts Group meeting that was close to his heart. Kieran is a person we support based in Worcester, and he talked about how difficult it is for him and other wheelchair users to access the buses in the city.
A couple of weeks ago, Kieran’s concern, along with the help of his support workers, lead to a meeting with his local MP for Worcester, Robin Walker, where the issue was discussed in detail.
Many of the buses are not suitable and accessible, and wheelchairs vary in size and weight. In the past, wheelchair users have found that spaces on buses are too small to allow the wheelchair to turn, which results in drivers having to physically lift the chair to change direction (which doesn’t comply with our manual handling guidelines).
Also, when the buses are full, the wheelchairs are difficult to move off the vehicle, often leading to conflicts with other passengers. And some of the people we support, who travel by bus, have said they feel vulnerable and uncomfortable with the way wheelchair seating is set up, as they face other passengers on their journeys.
Kieran and two staff members went to the local bus station, where the supervisor there showed them around some of the buses, and here was where some of the concerns and problems were demonstrated.
Kieran and his support workers then worked on a letter, sent to the bus company saying thank you and how helpful the supervisor had been, but again raising the points about accessibility.
Then, during a recent locality managers’ meeting, Kieran’s good work was raised and Martin Boniface, an Associate Family Consultant at the meeting, suggested that Kieran should write to his local MP. Kieran and his support workers talked it over and agreed they wanted to tell the MP their concerns about the bus accessibility issue.
A meeting was set up with the MP, and it was discussed that Kieran would be interested in helping with areas surrounding accessibility; the MP even said he was going to take their concerns back and see what he could do in future. He even agreed to attend the next Everybody Counts Group meeting!
Victoria Richardson, Operations Director (Worcestershire & Shropshire Borders), said: “We couldn’t be more proud of the tireless campaigning Kieran is doing for wheelchair users in Worcester. His support workers are especially proud and say they are very lucky to be around such an inspiring person!”
Julie Hodgetts, Locality Managers, added: “After the meeting with the MP, Kieran turned round to me and a colleague and said, ‘Thank you for helping me…’