Back in October 2016, whilst 7 months pregnant with my third child, I was horrified to exit my local Tesco supermarket, return to my car and find that I couldn’t even open the doors.
It was just before 5pm, on a Tuesday evening.
I had done as I always do, and when arriving at Tesco, drove to the parent and child spaces, only to find that they were all occupied.
So, I drove around the car park and found a normal space, and parked up.
I had purposely chosen a spot which had vacancies either side, to lessen the struggle with an ever growing baby bump, a 16 month old child and a 5 year old to get out of the car.
I went inside the shop, got my shopping and exited the store.
Approaching my car, I realised a white van had parked next to me, and it seemed at a very unusual angle.
Once I actually reached my car, I could see that there was no possible way that I was going to be able to open either of the doors on my drivers side, which is where my son’s car seat was fitted.
The van had parked on an angle with its rear end inches from my door.
I was furious. This person had parked a marked works vehicle in such a manner that there was no way anybody could’ve gotten into my car via the drivers side, let alone me being the size I was at the time.
So I decided to take some photographs and capture the company name and registration number.
I became stressed, as obviously, 5pm on a school night, the children were reaching ‘witching hour’ and I was keen to get home.
The only option I had, was to open my passenger side rear door, and ask my 5 year old daughter to climb over her car seat and sit her little brother in to his and attempt the complicated safety harness.
Luckily, Lilly was capable of doing this, although she became worried that she might not have fastened the seat belt correctly.
I then fastened Lilly into her seat. Phew, all in! …except me! The heavily pregnant woman with a big baby bump.
I had to climb over the passenger side seat, over the handbrake and gear stick, and finally into my seat, after putting unnecessary strain onto my bump.
I was so upset.
I sat for a moment to catch my breath and calm myself down before setting off for home.
Whilst stationary, I saw a workman returning to the van. I wasn’t going to just let him get away with what he had put me and my family through!
So I wound down my window and shouted ‘You haven’t parked very considerately have you?’
His reply ‘So?!’…. and he went to walk away.
I shouted again, ‘I have just had to struggle to get my children into the car whilst 7 months pregnant you idiot!’
He then spouted a load of obscenities, of which I won’t lower myself to repeat, and he attempted to maneuver his badly parked vehicle and reverse out of the spot, and sped away.
I was then able to get out of my drivers door, ensure Ellis was correctly fastened in to his car seat, and head for home, after what had been the most stressful shopping trip of my life!
This is unfortunately a very common problem which families and pregnant women encounter on a regular basis.
A parent-led campaign has been setup by business owner and mother of two, Lisa Roberts.
The campaign titled ‘Give Me Space’, was created after Lisa suffered a similar experience to myself, and she thought ‘enough is enough!’
Lisa said: “When heavily pregnant I returned to my car to find that the cars either side of me had parked so close there was no way I could squeeze my bump through either gap. I was faced with trying to enter the car through the boot (impossible) or phoning my partner to come and rescue me. Not a great start to the day.”
After carrying out extensive research by conducting a study of 2,000 parent’s and caregivers, it revealed that 4 in 5 share her frustration and 83% would like the government to introduce change.
Lisa found that 90% of parents more often than not cannot find a free parent and child space.
Of those who can’t, 93 per cent then struggle to get their children out of the car safely, due to lack of space to remove car seats and pushchairs.
The figures are astounding!
What’s more, 52% of pregnant women who answered the survey said they have been forced to apply excessive pressure on their unborn children, by squeezing through tight gaps or climbing through their own cars.
The campaign is designed to bring together the views of affected families, which will be presented to government and urge them to introduce official recommendations regarding parent and child spaces in public car parks – similar to guidelines already in place for disabled drivers.
Currently, there are no recommended guidelines as to how many parent-child spaces public car parks should have.
Whilst trawling social media sites, I found that not everybody agrees, and some even think there are ‘too many parent-child and disabled spaces’, and this is coming from ‘a serving U.K police officer’.
Also, people joking about how precious us parents get upon finding people parking in these spaces using excuses such as ‘not my fault I can’t park’.
‘Give Me Space’ simply ask for families to follow these three simple steps;
- First of all, visit their website http://www.givemespace.net and request a free car sticker, to display in your vehicle, which politely shows members of the public that you require extra space to get yourself and your family in and out of your car.
- Secondly, head over to www.change.org and sign their petition.
- Last but no means least, have a look at their Facebook page and share your experiences.
Surprisingly, it isn’t just supermarkets that have this issue.
I found that visiting Wythenshawe Hospital for my antenatal checks during pregnancy, that the spaces they offer are ridiculously narrow.
This is a very busy car park at the best of times, but even so, the small spaces make it very difficult for heavily pregnant mothers, of which they obviously see many of on a daily basis.
Something needs to be done, and ‘Give Me Space’ is working towards making this change happen with your support.
The spaces don’t even need to be close to the entrance, I would happily walk from the other end of the car park if it meant having more space for my children.
Have a read all about the campaign at http://www.givemespace.net and sign the petition to stop this on-going issue.