One of my abiding childhood memories was being given my first wheelchair. Until I was six, I had to resort to a large buggy, a mass of translucent plastic frames and ugly grey wheels. It was through the charity Whizz-Kidz that I finally got my first wheelchair, a streamlined seat in midnight purple. I remember taking my newfound freedom to my local Morrisons, home of the shiniest floor in town. I had gone from being trapped in plastic to sitting in a rocket ship, throwing myself down the crisps and snacks aisle.
A decade later, I had outgrown the chair and my family were back to working out how we would pay for a new one – this time a pricier, electric wheelchair that cost at least £5,000. My mum wrote to the board of local charities, we saved what we could, and Whizz-Kidz again filled in the rest.
As an adult, two things have stayed with me: gratitude to the organisation that gave me my independence, and a niggling question. Why in modern Britain do families of disabled children have to turn to charity for help?
From our series of Questions In The Guardian We Can Answer.
The basic problem is that a bureaucracy set up to—–well, that’s it really, a bureaucracy isn’t interested in what it does, only that it exists and remains as a bureaucracy. C. Northcote Parkinson and all that……