Years And Years actor Ruth Madeley just recalled the moment when a taxi driver took her wheelchair and what happened when she reported the incident to the police.
Earlier this month, Ruth Madeley spoke to Stylist about her role in the BBC’s upcoming production Independence Day? How Disabled Rights Were Won.
Talking about the new factual drama, which centres on a group of activists who changed the rights of disabled people in the UK forever, Madeley – who has spina bifida – said: “With disability, and we feel it now, everything is a fight.”
The actor, best known for Years and Years and Don’t Take My Baby, has just shared a powerful and infuriating post which illustrates exactly what this fight really means.
Madeley said that a few weeks ago, on the same day her new show was announced, she had to report her first disability hate incident.
She explained what happened when a taxi driver refused to drop her off at Euston Station’s accessible entrance because the traffic was heavy: “He instead insisted that I get out and use the inaccessible entrance, as he had seen me stand and so ‘knew I could walk’.”
Madeley continued: “When I told him that I can’t manage stairs, he proceeded to tell me that it was MY problem not his. As if this wasn’t traumatic enough, he demanded his fare even though the journey had been prepaid. When I tried explaining this on the street, he became very agitated and, in sheer frustration, HE TOOK MY WHEELCHAIR from behind me without warning and carried it away to put in the boot of his taxi, leaving me on the side of the road.
“When I asked for it back, he refused. Thankfully, I wasn’t travelling alone and my mum was able to grab my chair from the driver, although he tried his best to stop her. As a disabled women, I never thought I’d have to deal with a situation like this in 2021.
“For me, taking somebody’s wheelchair without consent and effectively holding it to ransom, is criminal behaviour.”
Madeley recalled what happened when she called the police: “The lady I dealt with was just awful. After telling me that the ordeal was not a hate crime and that no criminal act had taken place, I’ve since learned that she didn’t log the incident properly and, as such, my case was dismissed without me knowing. I was shut down and made to feel as though I was making a fuss over nothing.
“Ultimately, after more fighting and asking for support, the police told me that nothing can be done. No warning to the taxi driver or the firm, no accountability, no consequences.”
She added: “This kind of shit is happening to disabled people EVERY SINGLE DAY and it is clear proof that the fight for disability rights is far from over.”
As reported by the Guardian, Transport for London has described the incident as “utterly appalling” and said it would investigate. Graham Robinson, TfL’s general manager for taxi and private hire, said in a statement: “This sounds like an utterly appalling incident. We have contacted Ruth for more details so we can carry out a full and urgent investigation.”
Richard Kramer, chief executive at the disability charity, Sense, has shared comment with Stylist, saying: “What has happened to Ruth is shocking and should be investigated. Sadly, we hear far too often from disabled people that have experienced discrimination.
“We must commit as a society to tackling inequality and create a more inclusive society, removing the barriers that disabled people face.”
If someone has been violent or hostile towards you because you live with a disability, please visit the Citizen’s Advice website for information and advice.