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Disabled student launches campaign to make blue badges more inclusive

Sam Vestey is campaigning for hidden disabilities to be more recognised by the blue badge scheme (National Star/PA)
Sam Vestey is campaigning for hidden disabilities to be more recognised by the blue badge scheme (National Star/PA)

A student has launched a campaign to get the blue disabled badge changed to make it more inclusive.

Sam Vestey, 20, who has a chromosomal condition that often leaves him fatigued and in pain, said he is often challenged by people over how disabled he really is.

“There are many people like me with disabilities that affect our mobility over time which means we need wheelchairs for when we are tired,” said Mr Vestey.

“However, because we can walk a lot or a little of the time, we get many people questioning our need for a disabled badge asking if we are disabled or not, especially if we don’t look disabled on the outside.”

Mr Vestey, from Bishop’s Cleeve, near Cheltenham, is due to start his second year at the National Star College next month.

He has a chromosomal condition called DiGeorge Syndrome and survived a pineoblastoma brain tumour as a child.

“DiGeorge Syndrome gives me a cleft pallet which affects my speech and scoliosis which affects my back. I have no learning disabilities and have normal intelligence,” he said.

“Just because people can’t see my disability, they don’t understand how much pain I am in and how fatigued I get. That’s why I have a disabled badge.”

He is calling for the disabled badge to be more inclusive and to include a standing figure to represent unseen disabilities, and is lobbying local MPs.

“I’m not blaming anyone as even I do this, but over time I have learnt that we need to think outside the box as only people that know you very well know how your disability affects you on a daily basis,” he said.

“If we had a stick figure standing up as well as one in a wheelchair, people would understand that there are people with hidden disabilities who get worse over time or hidden disabilities in general.

“I would also like more information talking about this on the sign as well.”

National Star, a Gloucestershire-based charity which supports young people with complex disabilities and learning difficulties, is backing Mr Vestey and his campaign.

“National Star is passionate about helping young people with disabilities become equal and active citizens in control of their own lives,” said chief executive David Ellis.

“That is exactly what Sam is doing with his campaign and we applaud his determination.”