CEREBRAL palsy sufferer Charlie Sheldon has always wanted to be a minibus driver.
But despite the 23-year-old’s best efforts to work, he says he is being forced to turn down job offers as simply nowhere can offer him an automatic vehicle to let him take his test.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said mum Julie, from Shirley, a secretary at an aerospace company.
“He wants to work, he doesn’t just want to sit at home on benefits doing nothing.
“It’s not Charlie’s fault. People don’t realise the obstacles you have to overcome as a disabled person.”
DSA rules state that anyone driving a minibus for profit must complete their D2 driving test in a vehicle at least five metres long and four tonnes in weight with between nine and 16 passenger seats.
But Charlie’s disability means he must drive an automatic vehicle and the family say that they have scoured test centres and van rentals across the country to no avail.
“We have tried our best,” added Julie, aged 52. “I’m pulling my hair out.
“All the training centres have manual- that really is discriminating against a disabled person.”
“All I want to do is work,” said Charlie, who now lives nearby in Wythall. “I always wanted a career in driving, I enjoy it. That’s why we went for my minibus licence. If I had a choice, I would rather drive a manual car but I don’t have that choice.
“I know of one source of income already. A taxi firm in Redditch, the owner said to me if you get your licence the job is practically yours.
“There’s also a special school in Bromsgrove which could employ me through the council.
“As soon as I get my licence, the doors just open up.”
A DSA spokesperson said that they were unable to bend the rules.
“We try wherever possible to make reasonable adjustments to assist those with a disability, such as allowing extra time to give the examiner time to talk through a disability and any adaptations fitted to the vehicle.
“The rules for vehicles used on test are set out in European law and we are unable to make any exceptions.”
Now the family are appealing to anyone with an automatic minibus, meeting the test requirements, to lend their vehicle so Charlie is able to take his test.
“If I can borrow a van, I’d be working by Christmas,” he added.
If you can help, call 0121 234 5661.