Norwich man to talk to MPs about equality

Norwich man to talk to MPs about equality
Jessica Baldwin
 Wednesday, February 16, 2011
8:24 AM

Having lived with a rare, degenerative form of muscular dystrophy for most of his life, wheelchair bound Ben Parkin is well aware of the problems that face young disabled people.

“Things have got a lot better in the city over the last few years but there is still a way to go.”

Ben Parkin

Today the 22-year-old was travelling to Westminster to address MPs on this very issue.

Every day young people across Britain are facing an uphill struggle to achieve goals many of us take for granted. Mr Parkin and the rest of his team of Muscular Dystrophy Campaign Trailblazers are conducting an investigation in to the issues affecting disabled youths.

They will be working with MPs to try and bring about positive and much needed changes across the country.

The Trailblazers are a group of 300 young people suffering from the muscle wasting disease. Together they are fighting against the social injustices they experience.

Mr Parkin, who lives near Grapes Hill in Norwich, suffers from duchenne muscular dystrophy, one of the more serious strains of the illness. Every year 100 young boys are diagnosed with the degenerative disease, and although there have been medical advances to make the disease more manageable to live with there is currently no known cure.

Mr Parkin said he was looking forward to going to Westminster and meeting his local MP Simon Wright to discuss issues that are affecting him in Norwich.

He said: “Things have got a lot better in the city over the last few years but there is still a way to go. Sometimes I cannot get on the buses. If I am on my own the drivers are often unwilling to help me with my chair, and if there are pushchairs on the bus I can’t get on at all.”

This inequality is mirrored in national statistics that show 50pc of trains lack basic disabled facilities and wheelchair users are often charged more to use the services.

Canaries fan Mr Parkin added: “Some places in the city are really good though. I play wheelchair football at UEA and the access at Norwich City Football Club is good so I can go and watch the matches. I can also go bowling and to the cinema quite easily. Things are getting better but a lot of places need to improve.”

The MPs taking part in the All Party Parliamentary Group for Young Disabled People will be lead by one of the UK’s first disabled MPs, Paul Maynard.

Mr Maynard thinks this meeting will be a significant step forward in improving parliaments understanding of the inequalities that young disabled people face daily.

The Trailblazers will continue to investigate and will present their report to Westminster in autumn.

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