Wheelchair-bound Barkingside woman forced to slide down steps at Ilford station

A disabled woman was forced to slide down steps on her bottom while her 62-year-old mother struggled with her heavy wheelchair at Ilford station.

The pair relied on the kindness of strangers, saying station staff offered little help in assisting Melissa Melman, 28, of Tomswood Road, Barkingside, on to the platform after she discovered the wheelchair lift was not working on Thursday.

Mum Sharon, who lives with Melissa, had to carry the wheelchair down unaided.

Sharon said: “We travelled from Ilford station because it has always been disabled-friendly. When we arrived and saw that the lift had broken down, we had no choice but to get down the stairs however we could.

“Staff at the station did not offer to help us and one told us that they did not expect the lift to be fixed any time soon.”

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Melissa, who lost the ability to walk as a result of pneumonia in 2007, says she often falls when forced to leave her chair and had taken a tumble earlier that day.

She said: “I call it the day from hell now as so much went wrong. My wheelchair is not exactly small and my mum has had bone taken out of her hips and also has a slipped disc in her back.”

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Ilford station is just one of a handful on the entire Shenfield to Liverpool Street line that claims to have step-free access for disabled passengers.

The lift has been out of action since before Christmas and Greater Anglia says it is “working to resolve this problem as quickly as possible”.

Disabled rights campaigner Sulaiman Khan, 26, of Woodford Green says the treatment of Melissa was “disgusting”.

He said: “It’s embarrassing that in 2012 this is allowed to happen. Situations like these can be hugely embarrassing for a person and you can feel like it’s your fault.

“Staff could have helped carry the chair or simply called her a taxi.”

A Greater Anglia spokesman added: “Any passengers who require assistance to use the stairs to or from platforms two and three are advised to contact our customer assistance helpline or seek advice from station staff.”

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