4th September 2018
A group of Paralympians, disabled activists and Inclusion London have launched the crowdfunded #TransportJustice legal fund to hold transport providers to account when they fail to provide equal treatment to disabled people.
The fund will take transport companies to court over issues of discrimination and breaches of equality legislation in a move which has never been seen before.
At the moment, it’s rare that a week goes by on social media without a disabled person tweeting about their difficult or impossible journey on public transport. Whether it’s a bus, a train or an aeroplane, it is clear that basic services which should contribute to disabled people leading independent lives are not up to scratch and are causing stress and anxiety for those using them.
This week, passenger Hollie Brooks tweeted her anger at the buffet bar being set up in the wheelchair space of the Greater Anglia train. Hollie was told by staff that because the usual buffet bar was out of order, the train’s second wheelchair space next to hers was being used to serve food and drink.
The BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner has also been vocal in the past about being left on an empty plane twice in six months. After his wheelchair ended up being locked in a lift with staff members and he had to wait for it to be dismantled, Gardner said his experience highlighted that big airports were not at the level they should be at to support their disabled customers.
Co-founder of the #TransportJustice campaign, Paralympian Anne Wafula-Strike, was left to wait for 45 minutes on a Ryanair flight back from the Para Athletics Championships in Berlin before airport staff helped her. Despite booking assistance months in advance of her flight, Wafula-Strike had to wait until all the other passengers had collected their bags and got off the plane.
Talking about her involvement with the campaign, the Paralympian said, ‘I am supporting this initiative because I want to help more disabled people with different impairments and experiences to stand up for what is right, because we all should be treated like human beings. I know from my own experience how difficult it can be to take a rail company to court. Some time ago I had a particularly humiliating incident and I decided to take legal action. I am now more determined to ensure other disabled people don’t suffer in silence. My case got a lot of publicity and was settled. I did not have to make difficult decisions about going to court and having to face financial risks, but I know most people will not be in my position. My legal case helped to get commitment from a rail company to train their staff and change their practice. My voice advocated for change.’
So, how can you support the campaign? Share what you see on social media using the hashtag #TransportJustice and donate to the appeal if you can.