I’ve been in this role for three years and really enjoy the fact that I help towards making someone’s life a little bit more manageable.
Gaining skills along the years
I’ve worked in a few roles in the past, all quite different from each other: a Ward Clerk at Bronglais Hospital when I first left school, at an optician, and later on I was a CCTV operator for 13 years, situated in the Aberystwyth Police station. As a CCTV operator, it was vital to keep meticulous records and pay close attention to every detail. All of these previous roles definitely helped me to develop useful skills for my current role.
Processing Blue Badge applications
When people apply for their Blue Badge, their applications land on my desk. I then check all their details and assess whether they’re eligible for the scheme or not.
The Blue Badge Scheme is a parking concession for people who are disabled, have severe walking difficulties or severe cognitive impairment.
It’s available to both drivers and passengers and intended to the person to whom the badge was issued to park closer to their destination. Did you know that you can also apply for a badge if you care for a child with a health condition that affects their mobility?
Disabilities come in many different forms
You can be sure that if someone has a Blue Badge in Ceredigion, we will have looked at all the supporting proof of eligibility beforehand! It’s sad to hear stories of Blue Badge holders being challenged or questioned on their entitlement. Everyone with one has a valid reason. Please be mindful that not all disabilities are visible.
How the scheme works
In Wales, we don’t charge for blue badges; the National Assembly fund these.
Within Ceredigion, as with the whole of the UK, eligibility criteria are divided into the following two groups:
1. People who are automatically entitled to a badge without any further assessment - usually because they are already receiving certain state benefits, or are registered as blind.
2. People who are entitled to a badge after a further assessment - usually people in this group are not receiving any of the state benefits. This discretionary group is where you can tell us why you can’t walk, what your current medical condition is, anything that affects your ability to be mobile. It doesn’t have to be necessary a mechanical condition, it could be a heart-related condition. It can also be a cognitive issue. However, with any case which falls into this group, an individual will need to provide us with evidence of their condition and how it affects their mobility.
If you think you may be entitled to a Blue Badge, we will assess you, even if you’ve previously been refused in the past - we look at each individual case with great detail.
Unfortunately, we do from time to time, receive applications where people may have falsified their reasons for eligibility, but we will always discover the truth when assessing the supporting evidence!
Temporary Blue Badges
Every three years a Blue Badge will get renewed unless you’re on a temporary one.
If you’re due to have or have had an operation recently, or you’re expected to take a while to recover from a short-term illness, you may be eligible for a short-term Blue Badge. A consultant would need to write to confirm that you’re on a waiting list and it’s going to take time to recover or proof that you’ve had an operation.
A helping hand
Support is available for people to fill in the application forms. The council’s Porth y Gymuned is a fantastic group, consisting of four Community Connectors who support individuals and their families to access advice and assistance. They can come out to your home to help with the forms. Both Age Cymru, Wales and West Housing are organisations that you can go to for help too with filling in the forms.
You can avoid spending money on postage - applicants can visit Council Offices to have their documents photocopied or to return completed forms. These can then be sent directly to me to deal with.
You can even avoid the cost and hassle of having to sort a passport photo out for your Blue Badge, as you can arrange a visit to Canolfan Rheidol, where I can take your photo. Your photo can now be taken too at the Council Offices at Aberaeron, Cardigan and Lampeter. Alternatively, you can send your photo in via email, we prefer to have a plain background for the photos please, but don’t worry about the size of the photo as we can adjust the size.
There’s a good community feel with the staff here at Canolfan Rheidol, all my colleagues are great people; when the workload piles up we all help each other out. My managers are great too; I always know that I can go them for good advice and use them as a soundboard for any ideas I may have.
You can apply for a Blue Badge online via the council’s website. The online system, which will direct you to a GOV.UK page has been in place for a few years. However, the form has recently changed, making it more straightforward and easy to use.
Alternatively, you can always telephone our Customer Services Contact Centre on 01545 570 881.
Reminders are no longer sent out to advise Blue Badge holders that their badge is expiring so, always check the expiry date and allow adequate time to renew yours by completing a new application form.