Our Letter to the Prime Minister
On behalf of Whizz Kidz, the UK’s leading charity for young wheelchair users, we congratulate you on your appointment as Prime Minister.
Dear Prime Minister
On behalf of Whizz-Kidz, the UK’s leading charity for young wheelchair users, we congratulate you on your appointment as Prime Minister.
There have been repeated requests by the disability sector and your party to outline your policy commitments to support disabled people across the UK. At Whizz-Kidz, we believe that you and your appointed representatives must provide more support to young wheelchair users. We are calling on you to do this through the following demands:
Ensure all children and young people can access the right mobility equipment at the right time through the NHS
Children aged three to five who need a wheelchair to be mobile struggle to access the right equipment from NHS wheelchair services because the eligibility and issuing criteria is very strict. Parents are often unfairly left with no choice but to purchase a commercial wheelchair or buggy that is inappropriate for their child’s needs. For a child who can access an NHS wheelchair, latest data indicates that at least 20% are waiting more than 18 weeks to receive their equipment. We are calling on your government to review NHS Wheelchair Service specifications as soon as possible so all children and young people that require a wheelchair can access one that is appropriate to their unique goals and needs at the right time.
Make wheelchair skills training mandatory
If a child or young person does not have the skills and confidence to use their wheelchair this can lead to injury, increased reliance on caregivers, social isolation, and equipment damage and costly repairs. Evidence-informed wheelchair skills training should be made mandatory across the sector to address these issues and improve wheelchair users’ independence, mobility and confidence.
Prioritise equitable access to employment opportunities for young wheelchair users
Inaccessible transport and workplace facilities, and poor disability awareness and inclusion by UK employers, are a few of the many barriers to quality employment for young wheelchair users. Your government must consider these barriers when implementing existing government employment policies and include this within a review of the National Disability Strategy.
Address the disparities in the cost of living crisis
The cost of living crisis is disproportionately impacting families with young wheelchair users. Some families are already choosing to forgo heating or charging of their electric-powered disability equipment to make ends meet. The livelihoods of disabled children who are already vulnerable will significantly deteriorate unless your government develops a long-term plan for protecting them from the impacts of this crisis.
At Whizz-Kidz, we are committed to supporting you and your Cabinet in developing solutions to tackle inequalities that disabled children and young people face, to ensure a more compassionate, inclusive, stronger and socially mobile nation.
Sarah Pugh - Chief Executive