Today, Friday, 3rd December, is ‘International Day of People with Disabilities’.
The theme this year for this annual celebration of people with disabilities, is ‘fighting for rights in the post-COVID era’.
Today we are celebrating disabled people and the opportunities we aim to create as a Trust, but also recognising the challenges, barriers for people who live with disabilities, in the context of a global pandemic.
We spoke to some of the members of our pilot membership scheme about the issues that their experience of being disabled during a pandemic had raised.
Deborah talked to us about her experience of isolation during lockdowns.
“During the first lockdown I did not leave the house for 4 months, due to the fact that no one was allowed to take me places, so although I was not classed as vulnerable and did not have to shield, I could not physically go anywhere. Groceries, as for a lot of people, became an issue getting a home delivery slot. “
“ So, where I can see the isolation made issues more difficult for some disabled people, I found it made quite a few non-disabled people realise what it can be like for us and a lot more people came together to offer help and were more compassionate about the situation. There are always going to be inconsiderate people who only think of themselves, clearing shelves, not wearing masks, etc but I feel that more people came together to help and look out for each other. “
Deborah went on to talk about what she thinks these issues being highlighted might mean for the future and how although new opportunities may have been opened up to those living with disabilities or disabling barriers, there are still huge inequalities.
“I also found that when people realised this wasn't all going to be over with quickly, they started coming up with solutions to some issues thinking outside the box. More became available with online classes, items being sold and delivered, which for me was a bonus being able to have things delivered that I would not normally be able to access. Also, businesses have realised that some jobs can be done mostly from home now with technology being what it is, which has hopefully opened up jobs for disabled people who would rather work from home“
“I found that social care and benefits made it very difficult for us as so much was being paid out in benefits etc, they seem to hit on those already scraping by on disability benefits to try and claw back money, making life very difficult, making you fight for everything and feel like you were not entitled or deserving of it. Making you feel more vulnerable“
This really does speak to the importance of the theme of this year’s International Day of People with Disabilities being ‘fighting for rights in a post-covid era’.