Travel & away from home
Stuff to consider or that might be useful when away from home, on holday or just at the shops.
Access Card - Sometimes referred to as the CredAbility Card or a Nimbus Card, the Access Card translates your disability or impairment into symbols that highlight the barriers you face, and the reasonable adjustments you might need. This then informs providers quickly and discreetly about the support you need and may gain you access to things like concessionary ticket prices and reasonable adjustments without having to go into a lot of personal detail. Examples might include information about a visual impairment, difficulty queuing or needing urgent access to a toilet. The card is credit card sized so easy to carry in your purse and wallet so you can use it when out and about in shops, businesses and on transport etc. The card costs £15 for three years.
Accessible beaches - find out where you can get sand in your toes by visiting Disabed Horizons.
Blue badge parking badge - Get some of the best parking spots, often for free! You can even park on double yellow lines with a blue badge in some places - check before you do! Getting a blue badge, even just to use on your worse days, is simply a way to manage your condition.
Bus pass - check with your council regarding consessionary bus passes for disabled travellers.
Driving and MS - Multiple sclerosis is a notifiable condition so legally you must tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that you have been diagnosed. They will ask you to fill in a form, send them your licence and, usually, they will provide you with a three-year licence (and will prompt you to renew it in due course). Your insurance may be invalidated if you fail to notify them.
- Event Mobility attend some of the major events in the UK and hire out manual wheelchairs and electric scooters
- the Red Cross offer short-term hire of equipment you may need when away from home, like wheelchairs, comodes etc.
- Some National Trust venues offer wheelchair hire - check and book with the venue
- Trampers are 'off road' mobility scooters and are available to hire at some venues. I used one at Trebah Gardens in Cornwall this year where there are some gradients to contend with which i wasn't sure my usual scooter would be happy climbing. You need to book in advance.
Scooters are available for hire at Shop Mobility venues, I booked one at the Swindon Outlet Centre.
Holidays – there are several sites that offer help in UK and overseas travel including:
- Accessible Britain has one main aim: To provide a forum for disabled people to share positive experiences of all accessible places throughout the UK.’ You can add your reviews to help others find out if an event or venue might suit them.
- Limitless Travel aim to help you escape to somewhere beautiful with a specialist - UK & European holidays.
- Motability share ideas on how to make an overseas vacation as streamline and hassle-free as possible. If a staycation is more your thing, they have also given some ideas of accessible trips out and about. Or see the full Rough Guide to Accessible Britain.
'I have MS' card - Living with MS can mean we may need help from strangers and/or folk who don't understand how MS can affect a person. The MS Society offer a free card explaining you have MS and may need different types of help, including access to a toilet. Contact them to request a 'I have MS' card. Also available at the BMSTC.
London Congestion Charge - If you hold a valid Blue Badge you are eligible to register for a 100 per cent discount, even if you don’t own a vehicle or drive. Visit the Transport for London site.
M6 toll Mobility Excemption Pass (MEP) - If you are disabled you may be entitled to a toll exemption for your vehicle when using the M6 toll. The MEP allows free passage of the *nominated vehicle on the M6 toll only. If you think you may be eligible for an MEP, you must apply to Midland Expressway Limited before you travel *the nominated vehicle is the one exempt from Road Tax).
Motability scheme - If you receive the higher level of DLA/PIP mobility allowance then you could get a vehicle through the Motability scheme. This could be a car for you – or someone who cares for you – to drive, or a motorised wheelchair/scooter. The Forum of Mobility centres http://www.mobility-centres.org.uk/ is also a good resource; I visited one in Oxford; they do home visits, however they do charge for this. Their contact number is 0845 3371540. Ricability (http://www.ricability.org.uk/) is also a good resource. Visit the Motability Scheme website.
When considering vehicles, I restricted the options to those:
- with a relatively shallow lip on the door – they vary a lot and I know on ‘bad days’ I simply would not get my leg to lift over the lip.
- where the boot was the right size to load my scooter in using a mechanical hoist - this shrunk the options down!
- offering a higher seat position - SUV/MPV
- available as an automatic
As at Nov 2021 I am driving a Nissan XTrail with an over-ring for acceleration and a hand operated foot brake. Other adaptations are available, see Motability site for details. Remember, the car lease is for three years so make sure the vehicle and adaptations are right for your needs.
Passenger assist at travel hubs
- There is a National Rail central number to call if you require assistance to use the railway - 0800 022 3720. In theory it can be used at short notice but it is recommended to call at least 24 hours before your journey. Their website explains how it works. The site also links to pages covering the Disabled Persons Railcard and accessible stations.
- If you’re a passenger with a disability or reduced mobility you are legally entitled to support, commonly known as ‘Special Assistance’, when travelling by air - spe cial assistance at airports
RADAR keys aka National Key Scheme - This is a special key that gives the holder access to a toilet which is not otherwise open to the public. You can buy them online from places like Amazon. Also for sale in the BMSTC shop.
Transport - Council & community offerings
- Ace Wheelchair Travel provide disabled accessible transport
- Age UK site helps connect you with local transport options
- Bracknell Forest Council transport options
- Caversham Good Neighbours offer lifts to appointments https://www.cavershamgoodneighbours.org.uk/users.php
- Community Minibus and Community Car Schemes - West Berkshire Council
- Carebus covers the eastern parishes of West Berks
- Keep Mobile is aimed at Wokingham and Bracknell Forest residents needing transport
- Pangbourne & Districts Voluteer Centre helps people in our area who have problems with getting to medical appointments. In addition we take elderly people to clubs and many other activities but we are unable to take people shopping. We operate within the parishes of Ashampstead, Basildon (Upper and Lower), Pangbourne, Purley, Sulham, Tidmarsh, the Postal zone RG31 6** of Tilehurst , Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill
- People to Places - accessible transport options in & around the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead
- ReadiBus, the dial-a-ride bus service for people with restricted mobility in and around Reading, UK
- Reading community transport options listed on the Reading Voluntary Action site
- Thatcham & District Community Transport Service
- Volunteer Centre West Berks - look under Our Services for transport options
- West Berkshire community transport
- Wokingham Volunteer Centre transport options
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