Jersey teenager calls on government to help get more disabled people driving

  • Report by Jessica Tidswell

A Jersey teenager is calling on the government to do more get people with disabilities driving. While one in five people in the Channel Islands have a disability, some say not enough is being done to help them get driving.

Adam Dalton needs a car with several adaptations, but currently there is no government support to help with the cost.

The government says it will, in certain circumstances, remove GST from specially adapted cars being brought to Jersey from the UK.

But for Adam, that is no help towards the £60,000 he needs to buy, adapt, maintain and insure a car that meets his needs.

Instead islanders have stepped in, and set up a fundraising page in an attempt to raise the money themselves.

Credit: ITV Channel TV

Adam's mum Juliette says they would not be in the position if they lived in the UK.

"It's very difficult in Jersey when you're a driver with disabilities because there's no government scheme like there is in the UK, there's Motability, but there's just not that support, it's all down to the person, or family and friends around them to try and raise the funds. In Adam's case we couldn't just take any car, it has to be a specific type of car which is not cheap."

With the help of local charities, DriveAbility and Enable Jersey, Adam has found a car on-island with the technology that will allow him to get behind the wheel.

Credit: ITV Channel TV

Adam says these adaptations will give him the independence others his age have.

"I can actually speak to it and I can ask it to do anything like turn the temperature down on the air conditioning. There's another one where the boot is automatic, I can swipe my foot under the boot and it'll open for me so I don't have to lift it up or do anything like that. It would just change my life.

"It would make a massive difference, the adaptations that can be done to it and the technology that it has in it already - it helps me with so many different things, little things, but for me they're massive."

Credit: ITV Channel TV

But adjustments, like swapping the foot pedals around, the insurance and upkeep of the vehicle has left the family having to raise thousands.

Sean Pontin, from the disability charity Enable Jersey said: "For every single person with a disability it's an individual battle, not just to pass their test, but to find the vehicle and to find the funding to do it, and if we had that joined-up thinking between charities, families and the government in terms of how we can develop a scheme similar to the UK one it would make it so much easier."

Credit: ITV Channel TV

The situation Adam and his family find themselves in is far from uncommon. John Grady from DriveAbility says it nearly always comes down to the individual or their parents to champion their needs.

"Unfortunately it's the parents who are a driving force, the number of times I've heard the phrase 'I've had to battle for everything'. Adam wants to see the back of his carers, he wants to be on his own, he wants to do things by himself and that determination is really admirable." The next challenge for Adam is the mammoth task of raising the money needed to give him the same opportunities many other 17-year-olds have.