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Charity highlights disabled people “forgotten in pandemic”

Charity highlights disabled people “forgotten in pandemic”
28th September 2020 Ian Streets

A leading charity has warned that disabled people are being “pushed out” of a post-lockdown world, with many anxious to leave the house.
Highlighting the situation facing Melanie Duddridge, of Cardiff, Scope said disabled people had been “routinely forgotten” in the pandemic.
Mrs Duddridge, who has fibromyalgia and Crohn’s disease, said long queues and a lack of toilets made it difficult for her to go out.
She has been isolating with her husband and daughter since 7 March and said she did not receive a shielding letter from the government until 7 June.
She told the BBC: “It was difficult getting the letter so late in the game.
“I felt like the definitions that were given didn’t include every type of situation people would be in, and although I am extremely vulnerable, my scenario wasn’t in the definitions for people who should shield.”
When shielding was paused, Mrs Duddridge said she thought a lot of people felt that “this is the big day”, but she didn’t feel that way.
She said: “I’m definitely not ready, I’m still not ready. For me to go out means I’m relying on everyone else to abide by social distancing and that makes me very anxious.”
Mrs Duddridge said has only been outside once, for an eye appointment, and the “nerve-wracking experience” raised her anxiety levels.
She said: “Toilets have closed or been relocated, and because I need immediate access, I will have to get in touch with each place I want to go to make sure.
“At times, I am unable to stand for long and I’ve heard there are queues everywhere. I’m thinking about having my husband go to some of the places I need to go. I feel like that might be a good way for me to understand whether it will be safe,”
Scope said they have been inundated with calls from “concerned and confused” disabled people and their families about what they should do and what rules apply to them specifically.
Chief executive Mark Hodgkinson said: “Disabled people have been routinely forgotten throughout this crisis, and that needs to stop now.
“Redesigning our communities with stringent safety measures to help make them more Covid-safe is welcome, but it should not be at the expense of the rights and independence of disabled people.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The Welsh Government is committed to keeping all Welsh citizens informed and aware of rules and safety measures.
“We have ensured that a BSL interpreter has been present at Covid-19 press conferences, and set up an Accessible Communication Group to discuss and overcome barriers to accessing information through Covid and beyond.
“The chief medical officer for Wales provided information on available support services throughout shielding, and this information and support remains available now shielding has been paused.”


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