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Hannah Cockroft says she is scared to be disabled and British

Hannah Cockroft

Paralympian Hannah Cockroft has said "Britain is a really scary place to be as a disabled person right now."

The seven-time gold medalist was responding to news that the role of minister of state for disabled people has been downgraded to a junior level by the UK government.

Cockroft told BBC Sport: "Paralympians are almost seen as different to the rest of the disability community. We are shown for what we can do, and everyone else with a disability is almost criminalised for what they can't do or struggle to do. I feel the statement puts us forward as one."

ParalympicsGB chief executive Dave Clarke expressed his views on the issue last week, saying downgrading the position shows disabled people  "do not have a voice at the top level of government".

Cockroft went on to praise sporting organisations for adding their voice behind the changes, which could affect thousands of disabled people.

"I still can't catch a train if there is no-one there with a ramp, I still can't catch a bus with my boyfriend, I still can't enter a shop if it has a step to it," she said. "Everything that affects disabled people in everyday life still affects me, no matter how quickly I push around a track.

"Dave Clark, it is fantastic he felt confident enough and knew that voice was needed to push this forward and put it in the forefront of the government's minds.

"We have no-one to fight our corner, and that's not a good place to be for six million people in the UK. We need someone to voice the things we need changing."

Mims Davies was appointed to the junior role in December, the lowest position in the governmental structure. 

The news was criticised by a number of leading sporting organisations, including UK Athletics, British Cycling and the British Olympic Association.

A government spokesperson told BBC Sport: "Minister Davies will build upon this government's track record of supporting disabled people, having delivered millions of cost of living payments and helping over one million more disabled people into work five years earlier than planned.

"The minister will help ensure there is always a strong safety net for the most vulnerable in our society, while tearing down barriers so that every disabled person can realise their potential and thrive.”

[ Tom Pursglove held the precious role of Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work. ]

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