Charities urge government to consider disabled people in any future lockdown

Beth Dawes, who is visually impaired, says perspex screens in stores can present a problem for people who are blind or visually impaired. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Campaigners in the North East are calling on the government to consider the lives of disabled people when planning any further coronavirus restrictions.

The 'Manifesto for a Better Normal', issued by a group of charities, looks at how people living with disabilities in the region have been affected by the pandemic.

Richard Boggie, speaking for the disability rights charity Difference North East, says: "One in four people living in the North East has a disability.... But too often they've been let down and have suffered terribly as a consequence."

The charities say some disabled people who have medical needs but are not classed as "clinically vulnerable" have struggled to access basic support, such as priority shopping slots.

The report also identifies changes in the benefit system, including the five wait week for the first Universal Credit payments, as having "pushed more disabled people into financial hardship and debt."

Beth Dawes, Lucy Reynolds and Stewart Chappell told reporter Amy LeaI about their experiences during the pandemic:

Analysis by reporter Amy Lea

What struck me about talking to Beth, Lucy and Stewart was how small changes - things that so many people would never have thought of - could make a big difference to the lives of those living with a disability.

From perspex screens, one way systems and social distancing 'stickers' that we are so used to seeing now in shops - they can all make life very difficult for those using a wheelchair or who are visually impaired.

This report contains lots of things Government and local authorities are being asked to addres and consider for if there is a second lockdown, but from talking to people with disabilities, it's clear that patience and understanding from everyone would make this difficult time just that little bit easier.

A government spokesperson said: "We understand this has been a particularly challenging time for disabled people and we remain committed to supporting them, their families and their carers."

Across government, we are working to support and protect disabled people, including by publishing advice and guidance, making £3.7 billion available to local authorities to help address pressures on local services including adult social care, and pledging £750 million to ensure charities can continue their vital work during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Government spokesperson