Revitalise praises Eastenders for tackling disability issue

revitalise-logoCharity’s recent study shows that – just like Kim – non-disabled people are using disabled facilities and showing no signs of stopping

National disabled people’s charity Revitalise has praised Eastenders for tackling the issue of non-disabled people using disabled toilets and parking spaces with little regard for the needs of disabled people. The charity is citing its own study which backs up the issues raised.

In an echo of what Revitalise’s study found, the Eastenders characters Donna Yates, who is a wheelchair user, and Kim Fox were seen arguing over the ethics of non-disabled people using facilities set aside for the convenience of disabled people – and the resultant inconvenience and frustration this causes.

On Monday 26 September – just one day before the Eastenders episode was aired – Revitalise released the findings of ‘Saint or Sinner’, a light-hearted study of non-disabled people’s attitudes to accessibility, which found that 6 out of 10 (57%) non-disabled people use disabled toilets and are showing no signs of stopping, with 1 in 5 (17%) saying they had “done it loads of times and really don’t see any harm in it”. The study also found that more than 1 in 10 (12%) non-disabled people use disabled parking spaces either sometimes or habitually.

In the light of its own research, Revitalise is urging non-disabled people to take on board the philosophy of Team GB in the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games, whose success is based on many small improvements adding up to one seismic change. If non-disabled individuals can simply make one or more small adjustmentsto their own attitudes and habits, Revitalise believes, they will be helping to create a more inclusive and equitable society for disabled people.

Revitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds commented:

“We have nothing but praise for Eastenders for bringing up this issue, which is a huge source of inconvenience and frustration for disabled people. It’s quite eerie that a fictional exchange on a popular soap is backed up so closely by our own research.

“We’ve just witnessed the Paralympic Games and the words “Yes I can” are still echoing in our minds. Butwhen it comes to making society more open and accessible for disabled people, it seems the attitude of some non-disabled people is pretty much summed up by Kim Fox – and we think Donna was quite right to confront her over it!

“So we’re calling for a seismic shift in the way we treat disabled people in the UK. If non-disabled people can just make a small adjustment to their attitude towards disability, then we will be going a long way towards creating a better, more respectful world for disabled people and truly keeping the Paralympic legacy alive!”

Revitalise (www.revitalise.org.uk) is a national charity providing respite holidays for disabled people and carers. Revitalise provides short breaks, with 24-hour nurse-led care on-call and personal support, at three accessible centres in Chigwell in Essex, Southampton and Southport. Each centre offers a wide range of accessible activities and excursions in a holiday environment.

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