A mum is furious after her six-year-old was prevented from getting to school on time after being kicked off the bus because of his disabled travel card.
Amanda Lewis, 43, was left devastated after learning her son’s bus pass prohibits him from using public transport before 9am. This is despite needing to be at Bishop Road Primary School at 8.40am everyday.
She said: “My children and I were kicked off the bus because my son’s pass does not allow him access to the services until nine o’clock.
(Image: Amanda Lewis)
“After being so excited, my son had to watch his mother struggling down the street with his wheelchair and his younger sibling – just so he can access mainstream education.”
Mrs Lewis says she immediately informed Bristol City Council but was told they were unable to make any changes to the bus scheme as it falls under the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) – a standardised scheme across the sub region.
She said: “What is the point of issuing a child with a bus pass if they can’t access education?
“There was no way I would have made it to school on time with a wheelchair and a pushchair – for a disabled child it’s absolutely useless.”
A spokesperson from Bristol City Council said: “WECA would be responsible for decisions relating to when a travel card can be used.”
Bristol Live reached out to the West of England Combined Authority and a spokesperson said: “There is a national scheme which sets out the requirements for each local authority to provide free bus travel for age-qualifying and disabled people between 9.30am and 11pm.
“In our region we are already doing more than is required, because the West of England councils pay for the scope of the scheme to be extended to increase the hours of free travel to start at 9am and continue through to 4am.
“They have also provided funding for companion passes, discounted travel on community transport and for persons registered blind to travel free at any time.
“These additional elements could only be amended with the agreement of all WECA’s constituent councils (including Bristol City Council), as they would be required to meet any additional funding requirements.”
Mrs Lewis says she has battled for years to gain aid and assistance since the discovery of her six-year-old son’s rare disability – Fibular Hemimelia.
She says his birth defect was missed four times during her pregnancy and when he was two, he had part of his leg amputated to allow some functionality.
She said: “You’d think that disabilities would bring with it some understanding from the public but it actually does not,” she added
The mother of two says the council fails to demonstrate enough consideration for disabled people in the community and she fears for her son’s well-being.
She said: “Apart from his disability, the thing that’s been the hardest to deal with is my fight to get anything in place to support him.
(Image: Amanda Lewis)
Mrs Lewis says the main reason she applied for her son’s pass was to help fight against daily discrimination and abuse.
She said: “I was recently verbally abused outside my son’s school because I used his disable badge to park during pickup.”
“My son has one leg and I am desperately trying to avoid overuse so that he’s not up through the night in pain and unable to walk on it the next day.”
The former teacher recalls being denied Educational Health and Care Plan (ECHP) which is supposed to take into account cognition, learning sensory needs and by law, an entitlement for an assessment.
She said: ” After putting in an appeal my case was dismissed because Bristol City Council believe my son’s physical impairment does not impact on learning itself.
“I don’t want my son to know that because of his disability his mum is going through all of this to try and protect him.”
Mrs Lewis is keen to raise awareness for students who are dealing with physical disabilities in education.
She believes the system is flawed and more community support is needed.
She said: “I have noticed that there is more awareness for autism but there is next to nothing for physical disabilities.”
“The local authority’s view on disability is not inclusive.”
Mrs Lewis says she struggles with anxiety every day because of how she and her son is treated.
She said: “Every-time you fight for something, it gets so complicated that you’re under so much pressure you have to let it go for the happiness of your family.
“I think the council needs to know that a bus pass could be the thing for inclusion and they need to listen to the needs of people with a disability.”
Bristol Live have asked WECA why children in full time education cannot have their travel time removed to enable them to get to school on time and if they were willing to consider making changes, but the organisation has not responded.
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