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Family 'embarrassed' after Northern worker fails to help three year old in wheelchair

A family from Wigan said they were left 'humiliated' after a railway worker allegedly refused to provide a ramp to help their disabled daughter board a train.

Evana Parkinson, three, has a rare genetic condition and requires a wheelchair buggy when travelling as she suffers from pain in her legs.

Kayley, 25, dad Scott, 31 and big sister Erica, five, were travelling home following a weekend away when they boarded their final train at Manchester Piccadilly, but had to get off at Salford Crescent as the service would no longer be travelling all the way to Wigan.

Kayley spotted a Northern worker on the platform and asked if he could provide a ramp for when the next train arrived. But to her surprise she said the man replied no, adding Evana was in a pram and not a buggy so he could not help.

Kayley explained Evana was using a specialist buggy for disabled children, but the man continued to refuse to provide a ramp. She said the family were left feeling embarrassed when the worker allegedly started to ask other passengers if they thought it was a pram or a wheelchair.

Eventually the family were helped onto the train by another Northern staff member on the platform.

The Parkinson family Credit: MEN syndication

Kayley said: "I went to the Northern rail man on the platform to say could we use the ramp for the next train to Wigan.

"He said 'That is not a wheelchair'. I said it is a special needs buggy.

"She has the special needs buggy because she gets a lot of pain in her legs, it makes walking difficult for her.

"Being at the train station is a really dangerous place for her. She wouldn't be able to put her own weight on her legs.

"He said it is a pram, and I said it is a wheelchair. It even has a badge on the side that says 'Treat me like a wheelchair'.

"He kept saying it is a pram and started asking people on the platform if they thought it was a pram or a wheelchair.

"I do understand it was busy, but we went over really nicely and asked for a bit of help and he refused to give it to us. It was just really embarrassing.

"Evana didn't understand what was happening, but a lot of people were staring at us. It was a terrible experience for us. Her sister was wondering why everyone was staring at us.

"I want a bit of awareness. I don't want anyone else to face that embarrassment. In an ideal world nobody would have to.

"They need more training and to learn not every disability is visible. You shouldn't have to feel humiliated because because you have an invisible disability."

The Tomato specialist buggy is heavier than a standard pram and has special fittings to help Evana sit up and a large foot plate.

It was the first time the family have undertaken a long journey with Evana and said they were given help on seven out of the eight trains they travelled on across the weekend.

Evana's condition is so rare it does not have a name. She suffers from numerous issues related to the condition, such as hypermobility, pain in her legs and delayed development. Kayley said the family have since submitted a complaint to the rail operator.

We are sorry for the upset or distress our customer experienced following the incident at Salford Crescent.

“We are currently investigating what happened and will speak to the customer again as soon as possible as part of this process.

“Manual and powered wheelchairs can be taken on all of our trains, and station and train staff will be happy to help customers on and off our services.

– Northern Rail spokesperson