I like to think that I'm a fairly empathetic person, but as someone who is free from disability, I find it hard to imagine all of the obstacles that those with some form of physical or mental impediment face.
I might moan and groan on a Monday morning when the weekend's activities catch up with me, but I'm still able to get out of bed with relative ease. I can dress and feed myself without waiting for someone else to come and help me, and when I need to travel I can just get in my car and drive, hop onto a bus, or catch a train without worrying about ramps or finding a place to sit. And if I'm honest, I take all of this for granted.
I also take for granted that it's not my responsibility to help anyone else do all of the above, or deal with the other myriad of problems which come from living with a disability. But millions of people across the UK face these issues every day, and they manage to do so with a grace I'm honestly not sure that I could muster.
Now, it's not my place to get political but with the move from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) programme seeing as many as 900 people with disabilities, or their carers, losing their subsidised vehicles a week, it's hard not to worry and wonder about how all these people's lives are being affected.
Some will be able to afford vehicles of their own, but it's really a very small number, so what will all of the others do? Public transport will sometimes be an option, but many will face a life of vastly reduced freedom. A thought which saddens me greatly, and why the work of MASIS is so important.
The Mobility Support and Information Service is probably one of the most important charities you've never heard of! Their aim is to help those with disabilities or long-term health conditions to enjoy life to the full, through enhancing mobility and removing the obstacles which may otherwise prevent them from leaving their homes. In joining forces with selected partners, this year MASIS have embarked on a programme to help those who have lost their subsidised vehicles hire brand new cars at preferential rates unavailable to the wider public.
19% of the UK's population is registered as having some form of disability. Thousands more care for someone who is disabled. I think there is enough to deal with without the added distress that being housebound could bring. Sometimes the psychological and practical aspects of a health problem can be almost as draining as the physical manifestations. Not being able to attend hospital appointments, not being able to see friends, or even to pop to the shops for a litre of milk when the fridge is unexpectedly empty must be very frustrating.
As I said earlier, I'm not here to get political; there's already more than enough of that flying around. But in my view, those of us who are able, should all do our bit to help those who are less well off. And that's why we support MASIS.