Tradesman made to feel 'like a criminal' at Edinburgh's Fort Kinnaird shopping centre over blue disabled badge
A tradesman has said he was treated ‘like a criminal’ after a security guard ordered him out of a shop back to his van parked in a disabled bay to prove his blue badge belonged to him.
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Will Timms, from Edinburgh parked his transit-sized work van displaying a valid blue badge in a space at Fort Kinnaird yesterday afternoon while he was collecting a gift for his son.
The dad-of-three was shocked when a security guard approached him at the counter and ordered him to return to his van to verify that the badge was his.
Mr Timms, who lives with anxiety and depression, said he felt humiliated by the ordeal and has complained to the Fort about the way he was treated.
People with disabilities including dementia, autism and mental health conditions have been eligible to get a blue badge under the scheme since August 2019.
Since he got the badge two years ago Mr Timms said it has changed his life for the better, after he struggled getting out due to suffering periods of severe anxiety and depression all his life.
But the 47-year-old, who works as a maintenance man, says he feels he was discriminated against because he is a tradesman with an invisible, mental health condition.
Mr Timms said: “I felt I was treated like a criminal. It was so embarrassing. I go to Fort Kinnaird all the time and this has never happened before. The security guard cornered me and told me that they had a complaint about my van. He said I’d need to go back to the van with him to check my badge. The way that it was dealt with was shocking.
"There was no need to march me away like that in front of all those people. I have felt anxious since it happened. Because I'm disabled does that mean that I can not drive a work? I had to walk to my van and show him my picture on the back of my blue badge to prove it. This didn’t help my condition. It’s discrimination against people who have mental health conditions.”
"The badge has really helped me have a life since I got it. I suffer bad from blind panic in crowded places like shopping centres. If it’s too busy on the way in I freak out. Parking close to the place I feel safe. I can get out the house with my kids and not get overwhelmed. I also show the badge on my work vehicle as I need to go all over the city doing my job. During lockdown I had it bad with the depression but gradually I’ve been getting back to work and life. This was a setback for me.
"I felt so humiliated the way they questioned me. It’s as if they saw the tradesman’s van and they assumed I was faking it. It's as if people don’t recognise a disability as real if they can’t see something obvious and physical. I think no matter the condition we all deserve to be treated with respect and not be made to feel like a fraud.”
A spokesperson for Fort Kinnaird said: “We are committed to ensuring our visitors have a welcoming and enjoyable experience and take all customer feedback very seriously. We are very sorry for the experience this customer had on this occasion and we have asked for a phone call to discuss with him further. We are also investigating fully with our team, and will put the appropriate measures in place to avoid this happening again in the future.”
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