More than three quarters of disabled people want the Inquiry into the UK’s handling of Covid to investigate their experience, and fear if it doesn’t, the same mistakes will happen again.
That’s according to new research by the national disability charity, Sense, who have launched a new petition calling on the Government to put disabled people at the heart of next year’s Inquiry.
Disabled people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Six out of every 10 people who died from Covid in 2020 were disabled, while making up 22 per cent of the population. The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and created new ones. From difficulties accessing groceries and medical essentials, to a reduction in vital care support. Isolation and loneliness levels have spiralled.
The findings of a survey of over two thousand disabled people and family carers, reveals that nearly three quarters of disabled people believe their needs have been ignored, and have not received enough support during the crisis.
The impact of this is laid bare, with nearly two thirds of disabled people reporting that their mental health has got worse, and over half citing a deterioration in their physical health.
Personal relationships and personal finance have also been negatively impacted by more than a third of disabled people.
The experience of the pandemic has meant that nearly two thirds (61 per cent) of disabled people feel less optimistic about their future.
More than three quarters of disabled people now want the Public Inquiry to investigate what has happened, and nearly half want it to happen within the next 6 months, amidst rumours it will be pushed beyond the promised date of spring 2022.
Sense has now launched a petition calling on disabled people to be put at the heart of the inquiry.
The charity wants to see a key section of the inquiry investigating the impact of Covid-19 on disabled people and their families, with them being invited to contribute evidence,a panel leading the inquiry that is representative of disabled people and that the inquiry to be run in an accessible way so that disabled people can participate and engage with it.
Richard Kramer, Sense Chief Executive, said:
“The experience of disabled people must be at the heart of this inquiry.
“We have to investigate the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on disabled people and the decisions and policies that have led to this outcome.
“Never again should disabled people have to experience the lack of information, support and consideration that they have during this crisis.
“We must learn from the mistakes that have been made and ensure disabled people are no longer and will never again be treated like second class citizens.”
Emma Stokes aged 40 lives in Manchester, with her two daughter Megan.11 and Ellie 17, and her partner Richard 41.
Megan was born with a rare chromosome disorder which means she is deafblind and has complex health conditions. Megan and her family were required to shield during the pandemic.
“The main thing for us at the beginning was not knowing how we were going to source our weekly food shop. Everywhere online had sold out of what we needed. We couldn’t get a food delivery and my main concern was Megan as she eats purée gluten free meals and will only drink milkshakes.
“Megan was getting really upset, crying and scratching us. I found that really difficult as I couldn’t really explain to her what was going on.
“During lockdown we were being sent lesson plans from Megan’s school with no resources to support her complex needs. I was having to come up with ways to support Megan during the day. We relied on Sense’s online sessions to keep Megan learning and entertained.
“After spending so much time at home, the local authority then tried to remove Megan’s access to one-to-one support at school.
“We are supporting Sense’s Covid inquiry campaign because we feel like we have been forgotten about. Very few people checked up on us and we didn’t get the support we needed to keep Megan progressing.”