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Nicki Myers Writes About Receiving A Free Wheelchair Accessible Car

July 31, 2018

Same Difference thanks reader Nicki Myers for writing this wonderful guest article about how she answered our recent advert. 

When I read on Same Difference about someone wanting to give away a wheelchair accessible car, I have to admit, my heart started to beat a bit faster than usual. I toyed with the idea of replying because I was sure someone would have snapped it up already but I was so desperate for a vehicle, I decided to send the owner, Rahila, an email.

I’ve had Motability cars for 25 years. The scheme worked really well for me and I was able to keep driving as my impairment became worse. My last car was a heavily converted Chrysler Grand Voyager which was adapted so I could drive from my powerchair with a joystick control. I received a huge grant from Motability for this conversion in March 2008. Although it was a bit unreliable, the car suited my needs, so after 5 years I kept extending the contract. A few years ago I learned that the Motability grants team had changed the rules for vehicles like mine. To qualify, you now need to be working or volunteering for 16 hours or more a week. Although I would love to do this, I am just not well enough. I spend 2-3 months a year in hospital and have spent time in intensive care every year since 2014. I have pulmonary fibrosis and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and haven’t been able to work for 14 years. There is no way I can qualify for a further Motability grant under their current rules and when my vehicle was 10 years old, it had to be handed back.
I’d pretty much resigned myself to relying on public transport (or taxis in emergencies) but there are some places I can’t get to via public transport; not all buses in Cambridge are accessible. You only have to look at the media to know about the difficulties faced by wheelchair users wanting to travel by train at the moment. I’ve been stranded on a train when the assistance didn’t turn up so I’m too scared to travel by train alone these days. When Rahila replied to my email to say the car was available, I couldn’t quite believe it. I called everyone who could possibly accompany me to London to look at it. Almost everyone was on holiday, given the time of year, but at the last minute, a good friend agreed to come and his son gave us a lift.
Rahila’s car has an important history. It had been bought for her son, Nihal, who had cerebral palsy and, very sadly, passed away. You can read about Nihal’s life in this book written by his mother.
It’s in my Kindle, waiting to be read. The family has a strong emotional attachment to the car and I understand this more than most. My youngest son was 12 when he died 6 years ago and I still have most of his possessions – his bike is still in my back garden. You have to be ready to pass on items like this and Rahila and her family had decided that the time was right for them.
It was great to meet Rahila and her lovely family. The car was perfect for my needs as a passenger. We went for a test drive around the block and I felt safe and comfortable. I’d had to take my manual chair to get to London and I was a bit concerned that my larger powerchair may not fit but it does, perfectly.
Having a vehicle means that I can now get to those places that were out of reach. I can visit my son’s grave in the woodland cemetery, have days out with my baby granddaughter, get to Papworth  hospital without needing to rely on ambulance transport. I will be able to travel more easily for political activism (disability rights and anti-austerity). It means the world to me and I will always be so grateful to Rahila and her family for this generous gift. I have donated to the charity set up in Nihal’s name which provides equipment for children who have cerebral palsy. There are many things which enable these children to thrive but that are not provided by the local authority. You can find out more about the charity or make a donation here
I’d also like to thank Sarah Ismail from Same Difference for sharing the information. Sarah is a Trustee of the board for Nihal’s charity.

Rahila and family say goodbye…

As new owner Nicki heads home to Cambridge with all her wheels in one place!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 31, 2018 12:34 am

    What a wonderful piece, I’m so glad you’ve found such a wonderful gift after such hardship for both yours and Rahila’s family. Thanks Rahila!

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