Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan has welcomed important and far reaching changes to the Blue Badge scheme which will see those living with mental health conditions eligible for disabled parking badges for the first time.
The Department for Transport has announced that from 30 August 2019 eligibility criteria for the scheme will be extended to cover non-visible disabilities where mobility is affected, including some types of autism and dementia, which have previously been ineligible for the often life-changing badges.
Nicky said “It is vitally important that there is parity in our society between physical and mental health.
“Mental health challenges can be equally as debilitating as any physical condition and we must ensure that the disabled parking badge scheme recognises this important fact.”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said “As a society we don’t do enough for people with hidden disabilities.
“I hope this change to Blue Badge guidance will make a real difference to people’s lives.”
For drivers or passengers with dementia, anxiety disorders or reduced mobility, anticipating difficulty travelling, such as trouble finding a parking space, can result in a build-up of stress on top of the stress of the journey itself.
The new guidance, which represents the biggest change to the scheme since the 1970s, will offer a lifeline to people who often find road travel difficult by providing better access to work and other amenities, while also helping combat loneliness by helping them stay connected to family and friends.
Helen Carter, Chief Operating Officer at Loughborough Wellbeing Centre, said “Enduring mental health challenges can be absolutely crippling to those who experience them every day of their lives.
“The prospect of walking a short distance from car to destination may sound inconsequential to most of us but can easily be debilitating to those living with lifelong conditions.
“The Government’s changes to the blue badge scheme really are good news. They will have a material effect in reducing isolation and supporting those living with mental health challenges at times of peak anxiety.”