A disabled PhD student was left in tears after finding a note on her car calling her 'fat and ugly'.
Sarah Metcalfe, 35, suffers from fibromyalgia, a long-term illness that causes severe muscle pain all over the body. The condition developed after a head injury five years ago, and causes her tingling and stiffness as well as the pain.
When shopping in Tesco recently with her 13-year-old son Jack, Ms Metcalfe parked in a disabled bay. Although she hasn't yet had her application for a Blue Badge approved, it's not required by Tesco.
"The pain was so bad on this occasion that I was forced to used a disabled bay to limit the walk. There were around 40 disabled parking bays and most were free," she tells the Mirror.
"I wouldn't have been able to go in if I hadn't used it - my ankles had become so weak that I was worried I'd go over on them. But I was enjoying a day out with my son so was determined to make it in."
But when she returned she found a note on her windscreen. "Being fat and ugly doesn't count as disabled - park elsewhere," it read.
Ms Metcalfe has posted the note on Facebook, and is calling for the person who wrote it to meet her face to face.
"I would just like to say to you if you're reading this now that it's better to be kind than hateful - quite frankly you never know what kind of day a person is having and what the consequences of your actions will be."
Charities have claimed that, perhaps because of repeated government messages about benefit fraud, abuse of disabled people is on the rise. Research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that disabled people in Britain are four times as likely to be victims of crime as non-disabled people.
Verbal abuse is rife, and many disabled people feel the need to restructure their lives in order to avoid harassment.
"Disabled people should have the same right as everyone else to walk down the street without being intimidated or assaulted, to attend school without being bullied, to get on a bus or live in their house without fear," says Kate Bennett, the Commission's national director for Wales.
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