Wednesday, 5 November 2008


I was sent this letter which Carol Stevens and Rebecca sent to the Yorkshire Evening Post after yesterday's headline and article...

"I am extremely disappointed with your front page reporting, as you do not mention that this "Taxi" bill actually applies to young people with learning difficulties until page 2. When you read the rest of the article it does explain that these young people are incapable of independent travel, therefore I am absolutely disgusted with Councillor Keith Wakefield’s comment that "This money currently being wasted should be spent on children’s education and the needs of people in our city".

My daughter is one of those taxi occupants – is she not entitled to a decent education? She is also a resident since birth of Leeds and are her needs need not to be met too? Rebecca went to mainstream Catholic schools and was well supported and managed to gain a GCSE in Science despite her Down’s Syndrome. She got the yellow MYBUS dedicated school bus to school with her siblings and managed reasonably well but that is a safe service directly into her school and would not work with college students dotted all over the city. Her sister did try to help her to use normal buses, but she got upset when people laughed at her as she lost her balance.

However, now she is attending Thomas Danby College and doing a course including life skills. Students would normally be expected to make their own way there, but as Rebecca struggles with money, time and cannot use a mobile phone, at this point in her life independent travel is not safe or possible for her. As it is Education Leeds do try to save money on taxis - it means that special needs students may have up to a two hour wait for their taxi home because they have to wait for other students going the same way as they are.

We hope Rebecca will be independent at some point in the future and indeed college are working on her "Life Skills", but her school and college education are preparing her to hopefully get a job and be a tax paying member of our city. So, Councillor Wakefield that money IS being spent on children’s education and the needs of people in our city – but as they are disabled does that mean they don’t count?

Carol Stevens & Rebecca"

I hope the Evening Post team are listening to Carol and Rebecca and that they receive many more letters from parents and carers and young people. This money recognises that everyone of our children and young people matter and have talent, abilities and so much to offer given the opportunities. Our job is to help them to live happy, full and successful lives by removing the barriers to learning and opening up opportunities, wherever we can, to release the magic in each and every one of them.

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