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'People are frightened and don't know how to handle it' - passers by urged not to leave unwell people struggling in the street

PUBLISHED: 07:04 23 October 2019

Gill Lewis cares for her daughter Hannah and works part time at the local vet surgery. She is keen for more awareness regarding disabled adults and what to do if something happens in public. Picture: DEBBIE BURROWS

Gill Lewis cares for her daughter Hannah and works part time at the local vet surgery. She is keen for more awareness regarding disabled adults and what to do if something happens in public. Picture: DEBBIE BURROWS

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Passers by have been urged to be "more open and offer more help" after a mother was left struggling to support her disabled daughter who was suffering a medical episode in the street.

Hannah Lewis is 33 years old and has Angelman's syndrome. She has severe developmental difficulties and has no speech, making it incredibly hard for her to communicate with anyone. Picture: GILL LEWISHannah Lewis is 33 years old and has Angelman's syndrome. She has severe developmental difficulties and has no speech, making it incredibly hard for her to communicate with anyone. Picture: GILL LEWIS

Gill Lewis, 56, had to physically restrain her daughter Hannah, 33, after the incident in Manningtree High Street on Thursday, October 17.

Hannah has Angelman's Syndrome, which can cause severe intellectual and developmental disability.

She has no speech and struggles to communicate, which makes a difficult moment much worse.

Gill said she was left was badly shaken after the strain of holding her down for 45 minutes after the pair had left the St Elizabeth Hospice charity shop.

Gill said: "She ran to go into the road so I had to grab her and physically restrain her against the wall.

"I couldn't move because I couldn't let her go into the traffic because I was scared that a car would hit her."

The pavement outside the shop is extremely narrow and Gill was terrified that Hannah was going to get hurt by the stream of oncoming traffic.

"When Hannah has a moment like this she gets very aggressive and then she goes to the floor, so it's basically a sensory overload and she gets really frightened.

"She was pinching and hitting me but I couldn't move because she might get hurt."

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Gill acknowledges that passers by may have been frightened by the behaviour but said that shouldn't stop them from offering help.

"What really got to me was that the cars didn't stop or even slow down," she said.

"One of them even mounted the kerb right next to me to get past a van and that was really horrible.

"People are frightened and don't know how to handle it but they need to just be more open and offer help."

She added that there needs to be more awareness about how scary episodes like this can be for disabled adults and their carers.

Eventually Gill was forced to call her son-in-law to ask to bring his van, whilst restraining Hannah who was on the floor but still pinching her.

"He had to bundle her into his van to get her off the street and no one stopped us or asked what we were doing," she said.

Rachel Martin, a spokeswoman for Angelman UK, said: "If I was in this situation personally, I would want members of the public to ask if I was okay and if I needed help.

"I would need to make sure that my son and I were safe e.g not immediately by a roadside, and that any shopping or baggage was taken somewhere for safekeeping i.e into a shop.

"I would also want any younger children looked after or distracted, with my permission.

"Many people in today's society are reluctant to get involved for fear of repercussions or reprisals. However they say it takes a village and sometimes some 'hands on help' is necessary."

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