A local woman who has Relasping MS has spoken of her experience of being challenged by the general public for parking in a disabled bay – even though she’s eligible.
This follows new research by the MS Society which shows that many people with MS in Northern Ireland are being judged by complete strangers.
Judith Preston, 45, from Stoneyford, was diagnosed with Relapsing MS in 2002. She said: “I’ve been experiencing the painful and draining symptoms of MS for more than 14 years now.
“I get numbness all over my body, my limbs go weak and I find it difficult to walk.
“I’ve only recently starting using a Blue Badge because my symptoms seem to be getting worse.
“A few weeks ago I parked in a disabled bay at Tesco and was challenged by a complete stranger who shouted “Do you know that’s a disabled space?” even though I had my Blue Badge on display.
“She was an elderly lady and I feel this is a classic example of ageism in reverse. She looked at me and saw a young woman.
“She couldn’t see the numbness and pain as I struggled to get out of the car.”
“People can be so quick to judge and it makes me so angry. I’d ask people to not judge people who park in a disabled spot.
Brenda Maguire, Policy and Campaigns Manager at the MS Society said: “MS is most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s and is a really unpredictable condition.
“However, because it’s often poorly understood, living with the condition can turn a simple shopping trip into an ordeal where hurtful remarks can be part of daily life.
“People with disabilities rely on protected parking to be able to live independently.
“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.”