I recently was approved for a Blue Badge for disabled parking and I thought I'd write a little post about what the assessment was like. In the UK you may be able to get a Blue Badge for parking if you have mobility issues to park close to your destination, and depending on the place this may give you free parking too. This can be given to the disabled person for them to use for parking or someone else who is driving them, and in my case, it's for me to use when someone else takes me places as I cannot drive due to medical conditions.

In January 2022 I finally applied for a Blue Badge and paid the £10 fee. There have been delays with the entire process but the website said 4-6 weeks before I'd be told what was happening next. After 12 weeks I was told on the phone that one month earlier it was written on my file that I needed an assessment and that they would chase it up so a letter would come out. I didn't get a letter until June, for a July assessment. So it took 6 months in the end. I am not eligible for automatic approval of a Blue Badge as I have invisible illnesses that can vary person-to-person, day-to-day. If you do get Personal Independence Payments for mobility you should be approved for a Blue Badge.

I was assessed by a Physiotherapist under Liverpool City Council and I felt at ease as soon as I got there. We parked in the allocated parking area for Blue Badge assessments and I used my wheelchair to get into the temporary building they have attached. We had a quick chat as he already knew what Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome and Fibromyalgia were and how they varied. I had already seen online what was useful to bring ahead so the Physio took the plastic wallet that I had brought. This contained an up-to-date prescription, my letter for the assessment and a letter from my GP. My GP had already written a letter that I submitted along with my application but after a later telephone appointment she felt like it would be beneficial to have a more recent one, outlining my different mobility needs and that I am completely dependent on others to get out and about. I don't think I have been out on my own since 2015 for reference.

The Physio told me that we would do a quick walking assessment out in the car park and I was to walk from one side of the small car park to the other and he would walk with me and chat. He asked my partner to walk behind us while pushing the wheelchair in case I needed to stop or rest. He had a stopwatch open on his phone and I slowly got up and used my walking stick to balance myself. I went down the ramp slowly, and he advised me to use the railing and my stick so I had the most balance. He asked me questions (nicely) as I was going down the short ramp very slowly. Once I had reached the bottom I swapped my walking stick into my other hand and immediately lost balance, and my right hand now free began to shake, like a tremor movement. I was more unstable walking and didn't really get that far before he stopped the clock and said I could get back into my wheelchair and we would go back into the room to chat.

Given that I didn't make it to the first wall I am assuming he stopped due to taking a long time and my walking being unstable. At the start, he said that there was a second stage and that we would do it after the walking assessment but he didn't mention it once we got back into the room. He had already scanned in my GP letter and I was advised that I look into various avenues to help me walk a bit better. He didn't undermine me once or imply that I could be fixed. He recommended private Physiotherapy or Hydrotherapy but this isn't an option for me, unfortunately. He said a rollator may be a good option to build me up to walking a bit more where I can take a break and I agreed. Overall he was lovely and said that he would write up his side of things and that it could be a week or two until I heard back.

We went back to the car and I was feeling positive but sometimes you have appointments where you have a good feeling afterwards but then you get a letter that ends up feeling completely negative. Anyway, before we even returned home which is about 15-20 minutes away, I had an email. It was from Blue Badge Digital Service with the title "Blue Badge Ordered". I was stunned. 10 minutes after we left I had been approved already? After speaking with some of my partner's close family we came to the consensus that the Physio said 1-2 weeks as that's what he says to everyone and had to fill in his side before I would definitely get approved. I clicked on the email and it said that the Blue Badge was ordered that day and it would take up to 10 working days for it to be delivered. I am writing this 5 working days out from the email so it could be next week before I receive it, but that is okay. The badge will expire in 2025, and I am so happy. I'm sure it was only 2019 before people with hidden disabilities could actually apply for a Blue Badge and with the pandemic, there have been a lot of delays. 

The main thing I will end up using the Blue Badge for is hospital appointments, to be honest, and it will help a lot with being able to find a quick space that's close to the entrances. It was always about the closer parking rather than the potential for free parking for me as when I am able to walk a bit, it will help me stay up for longer. It will help when travelling to meet up with my partner's family too when we meet up halfway. I'm just really thankful right now. Thankful to the lovely Physio who I think I struck gold with. Thankful that hidden disabilities are just beginning to get recognition from those in power. Thankful that my life will now be easier, as will my partner's as he has to assemble my chair every time I leave the car. I hope this helps anyone who has an assessment coming up.