A 32-YEAR-OLD woman living with multiple sclerosis (MS) has spoken of being challenged by complete strangers – for using disabled parking spaces in Burton.
Sophie Lewis, formerly of Branston, was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2011.
Despite often appearing fine, people with MS can suffer with mobility and balance problems and extreme fatigue among other symptoms.
Miss Lewis said she was often challenged by members of the public when parking in disabled spots because she didn't appear obviously disabled.
She said: "I do look quite healthy. I don't look like I've got anything wrong with me – MS is a hidden illness.
"I've been approached by a lady in Sainsbury's car park in Burton who saw me walk from the shop back to my car and didn't even look at my blue badge. I've also had someone ask my friend what was wrong with me.
"Sometimes I don't park in disabled spots if there are a lot of people at the entrance because I don't want to be challenged for parking there.
"I'm not embarrassed by my illness, but it's frustrating and I shouldn't have to justify it to people."
Unfortunately, Miss Lewis' problem is not uncommon.
Research by the MS Society suggests that more than one in three people with MS in the East Midlands have been challenged by members of the public over parking in disabled bays.
A separate poll by the charity showed more than half of people in the region could not name one symptom of the condition that affects more than 1,370 people in Derbyshire.