Author Archives: Avril Coelho

Post shielding face masks for extremely disabled passengers

I have been shielding for months due to a medical condition listed as extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 but keeping in touch with work. Over the last few months, I’ve been updated with changing company policy and watching the Government updates closely.

Workplace pay was revised in line with the Government’s change of advice for those who no longer need to be shielded. If my condition had been less severe, I’d be back to work now instead of staying safe at home.

Around the same time, TfL emailed me to say that from the 15th June face masks will be mandatory on public transport. They ought to be already based on video and photos I’ve seen. Buses will not take the usual number of passengers to allow for social distancing aboard so spaces will be limited, and people might have to wait for the next bus. Not all bus stops have seats, many disabled people can’t remain standing for long, and drivers can’t recognise hidden disabilities. Many buses are still using middle or rear doors too for driver safety.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 2 Comments

“Please offer me a seat”

avril-coelho-conference

As a disabled commuter who is unable to drive for medical reasons, I rely as thousands of other people to on public transport to get to the shops, to  get to work and back and to get to medical appointments.

Whilst I have a disabled person’s freedom pass, drivers don’t always notice that I need a priority seat. Certainly as my disabilities are hidden, other passengers don’t see my epilepsy or the three worn vertebrae in my spine. I need to sit where it’s not too hard to get up again and where the driver can see if I do have a seizure. I know that should I have a seizure, bus drivers have a protocol to follow.

I have been on a busy Tube and not offered a seat despite talking about my need for one with another standing passenger who was two weeks away from giving birth. Her need was obvious to anyone with sight but nobody got up. We were stood next to many seated men with briefcases and mobile phones in their hands who might have all needed their seats but it’s unlikely. A seat came up and I offered the lady the seat as her and her unborn baby needed it. The heat became unbearable and triggered a seizure and without anyone giving up a seat within the ten seconds I had to sit down, I fell down on the Tube floor. Only then did the men seated get up. Not to offer me their seats though! They picked me and my bag up and carried me of the Gunnersbury platform bench and left me alone there! My bag could have been stolen before the seizure ended.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments
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