Helping people with disability

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As chairman of The British Polio Fellowship, representing 120,000 people with living with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) in Britain, I read with interest moves afoot at Co-Op stores in the Channel Islands to offer people with hidden disabilities more support while they shop.

A lanyard or flower badge indicating people need support is a step in the right direction.

We can be embarrassed asking for help and moves to recognise this and offer practical help before we begin shopping makes a lot of sense.

PPS is a debilitating neurological condition, often with no visible sign and while some use wheelchairs, those with no visible aids have to ‘prove’ our disability.

Many of our members have indicated dismay at the way at they are catered for in every walk of life, from shops and attractions, to airports, so it is nice to see this scheme being extended to Gurnsey airport.

I hope such schemes give other retailers food for thought when helping people with disabilities. Support on the high street would incline us to spend money there - at a time when they could do with our help.

Invisible disability makes it hard for people to accept there is a problem and schemes like this are possible solutions that deserve wider consideration.

Anyone who needs our help can visit www.britishpolio.org.uk or call 0800 043 1935.

The British Polio Fellowship is a charity dedicated to helping, supporting and empowering those in the UK living with the late effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome.

It provides information, advocacy, welfare and support to enable its members to live full independent and integrated lives and works to develop worldwide alliances with other Polio and Post Polio groups for the mutual benefit of its members.

Further information about the British Polio Fellowship and details on how to make a donation can be found at www.britishpolio.org.uk or by calling 0800 043 1935.

Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) is a neurological condition which can occur in up to 80 per cent of those who have had Polio.

It is estimated that around 120,000 people in the UK are living with PPS today. After an interval of several years of stability, individuals can develop increasing weakness, fatigue and pain in previously affected or unaffected muscles, a general reduction in stamina, breathing, sleeping and/or swallowing problems and cold intolerance.

PPS usually begins very slowly, although it can appear suddenly and often following triggers such as falls, surgery or immobility.

There is no specific cure for PPS, but properly managed it may stabilise or only progress slowly and lessen the cost on the NHS whilst increasing the quality of life of those affected.

Much can be done to retain independence, including self-management strategies such as pacing and energy management, appropriate use of adaptive equipment, looking after your general health, and social and emotional support.

David Mitchell

National Chairman, The British Polio Fellowship, The Xchange, Wilmington Close, Watford WD18 0FQ