• Natashya Becks

Disability in Lockdown: News

While the prospect of mass vaccination promises strong hope for the future, the Covid pandemic and a failed government response has exposed and exacerbated inequalities faced by the people living with disabilities. On that note, here is a round up of all the activism, news and goings on in the disability community:


News, Highlights and Activism:

  • Two thirds of disabled people are being pushed into deprivation due to 'legacy benefits,' according to the Disability Benefits Consortium. This is amidst the government continuing to ignore a 120,000 strong petition 'Don't Leave Disabled People Behind' calling on them to increase benefits for 2 million disabled people, such as ESA, PIP and Carers Allowance, in line with the 20 pounds per week rise in Universal Credit.


  • The deaf community are suing the government over the right to accessible Covid information, such as the government's failure to provide BSL interpreters at every press briefing in breach of the Equality Act. The court battle, headed by specialist equality lawyer Chris Fry and pioneered by activists such as Kate Rowley, led to the PM being 'grilled' by the Liaison Committee over the 'shameful' lack of BSL accessible Covid information and guidance which puts 80,000 people who use BSL as their primary language at risk.


  • Ms Nokes MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities and Select Committee, recently headed a report on the 'unequal impact' of Covid on disabled people, finding that government communications and accessibility have been 'poor from the outset,' putting the vulnerable at risk.


  • A survey of 1,000 disabled people commissioned by the BBC found 7 out of 10 felt they had been 'overlooked' since the pandemic began.


  • Scope, the UK's leading disability Charity, continues to work tirelessly for the government to implement an emergency support package for disabled people in its campaign 'we won't be forgotten.' The charity has already written to 570MPs calling for action, as well as writing an open letter to the PM. Their campaign has highlighted the disproportionate impact of Covid of disabled people, with 35% of disabled people having reported worsening finances due to the pandemic. This has been exacerbated by thousands of hospital and physiotherapy appointment being cancelled, lack of access to PPE and social care support in what Philip Anderson, head of the MS Society, has called a 'growing chasm' of inequality.


  • Disability organizations have been left 'furious' after the government's shambolic attempt to deliver on the needs of the disabled community via Tory Disabled Minister, Justin Tomlinson's, National Disability Strategy, running until April 23rd 2021. The policy, which has been 'languishing for months' has been called a 'cynical PR stunt' with the fact it has hardly been publicized, it only allows a month for input in policy, and it ignores the charities who for the past year have been trying to get the government to act on the very issues the Strategy seeks to highlight, have left it being called 'disjointed and somewhat chaotic.'


How to get involved?

Your voice matters! If you would like to get involved and help the amplify current disability action, you can sign the petition 'Don't leave Disabled People Behind' here:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-leaving-disabled-people-behind.


To get involved in Scope's campaign, you can visit:

https://www.scope.org.uk/campaigns/disabled-people-and-coronavirus/


These are just some illustrations of the disabled communities and charities utter absence from government consideration, engagement and Covid inclusive recovery plans, with activists like Baroness Campbell and leading disability charities calls for action ignored. Thankfully, a ream of charities have and are stepping in to bridge the gap and continuing their incredible work.


Look out for the local support on offer in Central Bedfordshire...

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