Session One: National Strategy for Disabled People, the current Covid pandemic and the post-covid recovery

Disabled people need advice on how to keep themselves safe as the country opens up again, the so-called ‘freedom day’. A lot of people have a real fear about the complete lack of clear advice.” 

“Local CCG is encouraging advocacy organisations to encourage people out again, the problem is we don’t feel safe doing it given the lack of clear advice and guidance.” 

“Disabled people I speak to have covid-19 as their main concern, especially those who were not classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, a lot decided to shield anyway. A lot of people who have started to step outside the house again are actually going to do the opposite of the so-called freedom day and shield again because so many people will not be wearing masks or any other steps to help stop the spread.” 

“Even if covid cases were not rising, the whole country has been in lockdown and at home for over 18 months now, it will take time for people to get back in the flow of it. As a disabled person, I will need support with physiotherapy but now I won’t be the only one, I’d imagine the backlog will be very long, how is the government going to tackle this.” 

“Even if disabled people and people who have been shielding are still allowed to work from home but what is not thought about is how much they will miss out on from not being in the office. Once again it will be disabled people at a disadvantage and potentially missing out, especially as people think about general progression within the workplace.” 

“Blind people and partially sighted people will be having a more challenging time over the coming weeks, especially with the easing of lockdown from next week. If for example, a disabled person wears their mask, if someone comes towards to them, they won’t know until they are close whether they are wearing theirs and if not, will have to step back.” 

“The advice from the government on how this is an air-based virus isn’t well communicated. If it was, people would wear their masks properly.” 

 “The impact of covid on the learning disability community is large, they have been made to feel like second class citizens, especially around the awful use of do not resuscitate orders. When push comes to shove, the idea that when ventilators or important resources are in short supply, they might not get one is incredibly worrying. The government need to think a lot about how they are going to rebuild the trust they have lost.” 

“I really don’t like the term clinically extremely vulnerable” (CEV) at all, they are not seeing us as people, more what our condition is.” 

“I think the CEV term made things a lot more difficult for those who are disabled but are not CEV, they had terrible times accessing food and services. Whole areas had been focusing on CEV disabled people, overlooking other disabled people.” 

“Take the blue badge schemes as an example, a lot of places were suspended so people could line up for supermarkets or for outdoor dining. When asked about the needs of disabled people, we got the response they are shielding, it is not ok because we are all being seen as vulnerable.” 

“In our networks, we don’t say CEV, we say extremely vulnerable to Covid.” 

“The language used has been worrying, the whole it’s people with underlying health conditions who have died. How is that ok. Every time the death figures are spoken about it’s always followed with but this many had underlining health conditions as if it is somehow ok.” 

“The strategy consultation/feeding in has been dreadful. If you were not able to email in your feedback, it was near enough impossible to engage. I helped one disabled person write a letter asking for help engaging in the process, she didn’t get a response at all.” 

“The questionnaire wasn’t great if you were visually impaired.” 

“The questionnaire was really long, would be interested to know how many people started the survey, compared to those who finished it.” 

“Some of the questions were absolutely terrible, one question asked really personal questions about relationships, it was ok.” 

“Just on the engagement of the questionnaire, it would have been better if it was a process of engagement with disabled people, including testing the questions with disabled people before it went public.” 

“The engagement has been with the big charities, I don’t feel represented by them, to be honest. I wish they properly engaged with disabled people organisations and user-led organisations.” 

Session Two: Long term commitment and ideas. 

“The top of my wish list has to be accessible housing, it is such a foundation to stable supported living. We need a lot more accessible affordable housing, both rental and those for sale.” 

“We really need proper investment in disabled people organisations, rebuild the capacity they once had. I think DPO’s are going to become more essential in ensuring disabled people are provided adequate amounts of support locally.” 

“Local and central government talk a lot about valuing the work of the DPO’s, if this is really the case, they need to properly fund the user-led organisations. Long term funding is essential to guarantee the future of local DPO’s.” 

“Trying to pull DPO’s together, like the ‘Our Voices group’ of Disability Rights UK is really needed. DPO’s in the region are fighting for our survival so supporting each other, could really help. If future roadshows would be really helpful in us building up networks. 

If these roadshows were done by themes on Zoom, it would be great. DPO’s could decide which one is useful for them, coming to all of them if so. If we were able to use breakout rooms to talk with the DPO’s in our region.” 

While Zoom has allowed us to connect with people from across the country, rather than the classic having to travel to London to be in the same room. The only thing I would say however is they need to be managed better, I have been to some meetings, including APPG’s which have had hundreds of people, it was simply unmanageable, maybe more planning needs to go into them.” 

“If policy change, thoughts are needed about the knock-on impact. Take the blue badge scheme, it has recently changed so the entitlement means more people are able to apply, which is great but the issue is the number of bays has gone down. While this is not an issue now, it will at some point.” 

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