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Study finds lockdown leaving disabled people financially worse off

Study finds lockdown leaving disabled people financially worse off
9th December 2020 Ian Streets

A nationwide survey has found that more than a third of people living with a disability have been unable to buy groceries at some stage during the pandemic – because they couldn’t get to the shop.

The Independent reported that a study of 1,000 adults with a physical disability or a mental health condition found 70 per cent have felt more anxious about trips to the supermarket and other shops than they did before the pandemic.

The report said almost half have found using public transport a more difficult and stressful experience, while 34 per cent have struggled to attend a non-Covid related medical appointment.

It added that 20 per cent missed out on assistance because their carer or someone else had been affected by the pandemic, while 25 per cent have found it hard to maintain relationships – be it friendship or romantic.

A knock-on effect is that 45 per cent have felt lonely, 50 per cent have felt depressed and 37 per cent have felt isolated.

The study, conducted by Smart Energy GB, examined how the day-to-day tasks that many take for granted caused issues for people with a disability, during the Covid crisis.

A quarter said they were financially worse off because of the pandemic, with 14 per cent unable to get to the shop to top up their prepay gas or electricity meter.

Three quarters said that they believe those living without a disability don’t understand the scale of the challenges facing disabled people during the pandemic and lockdown, and 67 said people with a disability had been forgotten about during the pandemic.

Paralympian, TV presenter and author Ade Adepitan MBE, who is working with Smart Energy GB to highlight the benefits of smart meters to disabled and vulnerable people, said: “There have always been issues with getting around when you have a disability and since the pandemic, these things have become tougher.

“I use my hands all the time, so if I am touching stuff, I am worried about the risk of inadvertently touching my mouth or touching my eyes. It makes things emotionally and physically very stressful.

“Living with a disability or a vulnerable circumstance means daily challenges that many people might not recognise – challenges which have become harder this year.”

Dan Brooke, chief executive of Smart Energy GB, said: “Life’s tough for everyone right now and disabled and people living in vulnerable circumstances are being hit especially hard by Covid and its hardships.

“It’s imperative we make help and support available to those who need it most.”

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