Coronavirus: information and updates

Only 2 per cent of disabled people feel safe about ‘Freedom Day’

  • New research by Scope uncovers wide range of feelings about restrictions lifting among disabled community
  • Disabled people (22 per cent) twice as likely as non-disabled people (10 per cent) to keep limiting contact with friends and family after Monday 19th July
  • 1 in 7 (12 per cent) disabled people plan to keep shielding, despite government support being cut off
  • Findings spark fears disabled people will be left ‘high and dry’ as support for shielders has already been ended

Disability equality charity Scope, today releases new findings ahead of restrictions easing on Monday that shows the level of worry and uncertainty amongst disabled people.

The YouGov survey of 565 disabled people asked how they felt about restrictions easing. It found (selected from a list of feelings):

  • Only 2 per cent of disabled people said they feel safe
  • 48 per cent said they feel actively unsafe
  • Just over half (55 per cent) feel anxious and 1 in 4 (26 per cent) feel scared
  • 8 per cent feel excited, and 11 per cent said they feel free

Furthermore:

• 54 per cent said they felt concerned about their risk of becoming seriously ill
• 67 per cent of disabled people said they did not think disabled people had been considered by the government in making this decision

Non-disabled people were asked the same questions. 53 per cent of non-disabled people also felt disabled people had not been considered in decisions to lift restrictions from Monday, showing the strength of feeling among the public.

Behaviour

Scope’s research found disabled people are twice as likely as non-disabled people to continue limiting contact with friends and family after Monday (22 per cent vs 10 per cent)

Disabled people are also more likely to:

• avoid public transport (53 per cent to 41 per cent)
• keep social distancing (54 per cent to 43 per cent),
• avoid going to public places such as restaurants (53 per cent to 36 per cent)

Risk

• Despite the vaccine rollout, 1 in 4 (24 per cent) still concerned they are at higher risk due to their condition
• 1 in 7 (13 per cent) said they’ve been told they’re still at high risk because of their condition by a medical or official source

James Taylor, executive director at disability equality charity Scope, said:

“The pandemic has been an incredibly tough time for many disabled people. Many have been cut off from friends, family and vital support services. We know there are some disabled people who are looking forward to things opening up and relieved to return to some sort of normality, but there are many who are feeling worried about what the future holds.
“These stark findings show that in the rush to unlock, a huge proportion of the disabled community are yet again being forgotten and left behind by Government.
“What’s being dubbed ‘Freedom Day’ by some will mean the exact opposite for many disabled people, who have legitimate fears about their risk from Covid-19 as infection rates surge. We’re in danger of creating a two-tier society.
“After 16 months of being cut off and isolated, many disabled people are still shielding. Government guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people has essentially advised people to continue to shield, but with any support stripped away. This lack of support will leave those most at-risk high and dry.
“We need to see much better guidance from Government, and communication with disabled people. The Government needs to ensure disabled people most at-risk can get financial support to stay safe. Employers need to be flexible so nobody is forced to choose between their job and their health.
“Disabled people’s lives matter just as much as anyone else, and yet many are being made to feel expendable.
“We’re not calling for lockdown to last forever, and there’s no easy answer. But the Government must provide clarity on how they will support disabled people through the coming months, and provide a plan for how they will involve disabled people in the nation’s recovery.
“We also urge the public to be kind and show consideration for disabled people who may be feeling unsafe.”

Support

Scope’s helpline, online community and services are here for the millions of disabled people and their families up and down the country who feel isolated or need someone to talk to. Call Scope's helpline on 0808 800 3333 or email helpline@scope.org.uk

For more information contact the Scope press office on 0207 619 7200 or out of hours 07843 467 948, or email pressoffice@scope.org.uk

References:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,132 adults, including 565 adults with a disability. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9th - 12th July 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About Scope

We’re Scope and we want equality for disabled people. We provide practical and emotional information and support when it’s needed most and we campaign relentlessly to create a fairer society. For more information visit our website.

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