Devon Community Foundation which awards financial support on behalf of its Fund holders and donors to enable local people to achieve inspiring change in their communitie, released their latest fortnighly news update this week with a focus on physical disability. Their report shared a statement from The Disabled Charities Consortium, which is a partnership between 10 of the UK’s leading disabled charities, that states the government has “forgotten” disabled people in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. It claims that many disabled people have been failed by the social care system: a shortage of guidance, PPE and effective testing have meant that many had to choose between putting their lives at risk and receiving essential care.
This overlooking is perhaps unsurprising in an environment where MPs are now required again to vote in person in the Houses of Parliament, without apparent consideration for those MPs and family members are vulnerable and shielding.
To add to the list, guidance for exceptions to face mask rules on public transport was only released the day before this was to be enforced. There were reports of disabled people who were unable to use face masks being denied entry onto public transport by the British Transport Police. Benefit sanctions, a system which has discriminated against disabled people for a decade, were reintroduced last week, while the Public and Commercial Services Union has warned that reopening job centres could create a “perfect storm” putting people at risk. And Inclusion London has produced a report shedding light on some alarming practices relating to Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) notices and disabled people, with one person saying,
“I can't access the government scheme for support because apparently I'm not disabled enough, However I'm disabled enough to get suggested to sign DNR.”
The Devon Community Foundation also shared findings from the Living Options Devon survey we ran in May, where 31% of respondents said that services they normally rely on are not running during coronavirus. Here at Living Options Devon we are worried about people not being able to access all our services: Our Time to Talk team provides a free, confidential listening service over the phone, facetime or text. Although the team are still at the end of the telephone and offer online support, we are aware that a large proportion of disabled people don’t have the internet access, technology, or expertise to join in at present.
We appreciate that people are struggling with feelings of isolation, difficulty in getting essential food and anxiety about the virus itself. As lockdown measures continue to ease, there is more confusion around what people are and aren’t allowed to do (which is not helped by the lack of information available in accessible formats), and increasing reports of hate towards disabled people who are seen to be “rule breaking” when out in public, due to inability to wear a facemask, or difficulty in judging distancing. Access to toilet facilities is also a worry, as many places have opted to only open an accessible toilet – posing a higher risk of infection, and difficulty in accessing a toilet due to long queues, especially for those whose disability may be less visible.
“Isolation is very difficult and if you are someone with a long-term health condition or a physical disability, (which means you can’t get out much) when you’re stuck indoors and not seeing the people and your usual network of people and going places, the condition tends to take over and you end up focusing more on your condition rather than your life.” (Helen - Disability Champion at Living Options Devon).
Living Options Devon is a well respected user-led organisation which works to ensure that people with disabilities and Deaf people can live the life they choose. Set up in 1990 LOD is a registered charity (Charity N0. 1102489) and a company limited by guarantee (No. 4925281). Based in Exeter and Barnstaple, our charitable aims mean we we can offer services across the South West and share good practice throughout the UK. Being led and run by people with disabilities and Deaf people ensures LOD has first hand knowledge and understanding of the issues facing service users and so is very well placed to increase the influence and voice of Deaf and disabled people. We do this by providing education, training and services which enable people to live the lives they choose.
We are happy to provide all information about Living Options Devon and its projects in alternative formats by request. Please contact us using the details above.
There are a number of ways you can contact us:
By telephone: 01392 459222
By email: email@example.com
By SMS: 07856 426940
By post: Living Options Devon, Ground Floor Units 3-4, Cranmere Court, Lustleigh Close, Matford Business Park, Exeter EX2 8PW