A Hertfordshire disability charity is sure the only way to drive is in Essex after opening a new satellite centre in Harlow.
HAD (Hertfordshire Action on Disability) assess would-be drivers who are keen to get back on the road after illness or a medical condition, in a fleet of specially adapted vehicles.
Already well-established in their Welwyn Garden City HQ, they have expanded the service recently, adding centres in Dunstable, South Oxhey and now Harlow, with the opening of the Road Safety Centre In Edinburgh Way in September.
The bespoke centre includes an off-road track the size of a football pitch, complete with road markings, junctions, traffic lights, a zebra crossing and roundabout.
Local lady Jane Hardy was in pole-position when she became the first customer after being successfully assessed by Driving Assessor Mark Thackeray and Occupational Therapist Sarah Wright.
Jane, 51, who has arthritis, type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, was referred to HAD through the Motability scheme. “My mobility is limited and I cannot travel too far, so being able to have an assessment just down the road was really convenient,” she explained.
Jane originally passed her test when she was 17 but stopped driving after her diagnosis and some bad experiences knocked her confidence.
“I must admit I was initially anxious but both Mark and Sarah were very understanding, supportive and patient. As a result it wasn’t as scary as I anticipated, although I didn’t enjoy the pre-driving cognitive test much.”
Jane needn’t have worried, as she passed the assessment and is in the process of applying to the DVLA for her provisional licence. She will be aided by a full written report from HAD. “Once I get my licence I will have six hours of lessons provided by Motability,” she said.
HAD’s Chief Operating Officer Sean Lawrence is fully behind Jane: “We are always looking to help disabled people maintain their independence. Being able to drive is vital to this process. We are looking forward to working in Harlow and helping local people get back behind the wheel as quickly and safely as possible.”
HAD will be at Harlow every Thursday offering two assessments a day. For more information and to book an appointment call 01707 324251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
HAD provide a number of services for older and disabled people including:An equipment centre with a huge array of mobility products;
A driving centre providing lessons and assessments and
Information and advice.
For more details call 01707 324581 or visit www.hadnet.org.uk