'It's been torture' - Wheelchair-bound stroke survivor slams lack of disabled access in Edinburgh

Three weeks after completing the London marathon, Shirley Todd suffered a stroke on the operating table while having a brain tumour removed and was left partially paralysed.

By Shona Elliott
Thursday, 10th October 2019, 7:00 am
Shirley Todd suffered a stroke on the operating table while having a brain tumour removed and was left partially paralysed.
Shirley Todd suffered a stroke on the operating table while having a brain tumour removed and was left partially paralysed.

For the last nine years the 50-year-old, from Clermiston, has attempted to navigate Edinburgh as a wheelchair user but says she has been left in “complete social isolation”.

She said: “I feel like society has turned its back on me because I am in a wheelchair, I can’t go anywhere in the city.”

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She said: “In May 2010 I had a benign brain tumour in my skull removed.

“The tumour removal was successful but I had a stroke on the operating table which left me paralysed down the left side of my body and I was plunged into a world that I didn’t even know existed.

“I found that I couldn’t go here, couldn’t go there, couldn’t do this, couldn’t do that. It’s been torture.”

Mrs Todd said that before becoming disabled she had “blinkers on” and never thought about the accessibility of the city.

She said: “My family’s lives were completely overturned, we just wanted to go to a restaurant or into a shop but it’s often impossible to get in when I arrive and I just have to go home or try somewhere else, it’s been really frustrating.

“It’s become so difficult that I just don’t go out, it’s caused a lot of social isolation, I don’t feel welcome anywhere.”

Mrs Todd highlighted fully-able store customers who use a lift intended for the disabled as a particular problem.

The retired office administrator says she has raised her concerns many times with the authorities but still feels unsupported and has now taken matters into her own hands, carrying out her own survey of Edinburgh’s accessible venues.

“I surveyed 130 places on Lothian Road, Bread Street and Grassmarket and a massive 95 (73 per cent) are not wheelchair accessible.

“Wheelchair access needs to be a prerequisite of planning permission for old and new buildings. Often when inaccessible premises change ownership, undergo extensive refurbishment and re-open as new businesses they are still inaccessible. I don’t understand how this is being allowed to happen.”