My name is Courtney. I am 23 years old, and I am a disability campaigner. I was involved in the 2019 Scope for Change programme that supports young disabled people to run campaigns on issues that matter to them.
I have cerebral palsy and learning difficulties.
It wasn’t made clear whether I needed to shield
During lockdown, one of the issues I faced due to my cerebral palsy is the Government’s unclear information about whether or not I was high-risk.
Cerebral palsy was stated as a high-risk factor, but they didn’t clarify if that meant that all people with cerebral palsy had to shield, or just those with breathing or swallowing difficulties.
This was made even more difficult because my mum is a key worker and she wasn’t allowed time off.
I never got a letter, so I never shielded, but I’m careful when I go out. I don’t leave the house without a mask and hand soap.
Disabled people are being forgotten now lockdown has ended
As life gets back to normal, I don’t want me and my disabled friends to feel like we’re invisible and not part of society.
The lack of clear and precise information from the Government causes me uncertainty and anxiety.
It feels like the Government forgets about the diversity within the disability community, even within people with the same diagnoses. For example, my experiences of having cerebral palsy would be different to someone else’s.
This can cause me anxiety and confusion when it comes to ever-changing rules and regulations being put forward by the Government.
Government information needs to be clearer
The need for clearer information is more important than ever now that we are coming out of lockdown.
Everything is affected by COVID, it’s so constant and every day is different.
I need to have a minor operation, and I’m very worried about going in for it because of the possibility of getting COVID.
We know disabled people are disproportionately dying of coronavirus and facing a lot of ableism because of it. There seems to be a question around whether or not their lives are worth saving. This scares me.
I don’t know what to say to make people listen. It feels like disabled people are not even in the conversation.
When it comes to the next generation of disabled people, how can we expect the world to be easier when we’re not actively having conversations when they are needed the most?
We need the Government to be listening
There are so many areas where disabled people are being forgotten as we come out of lockdown.
I have a fear that people won’t want to include me in things because they see me as high risk or vulnerable. But meet ups and community are so important for my mental health and wellbeing.
I want disabled people to feel heard, and people who aren’t disabled to show compassion, not just during the pandemic, but continuing the conversation as we come out of this.
I hope people reading understand the frustration many disabled people and their families are facing during this hard time.
If you or your loved ones understand these feelings, please know you are not alone and there are people fighting daily for you to be heard.
Coronavirus has been a disaster for disability equality. Support disabled people like Courtney.
Read more about our campaign to ensure disabled people are included in government plans for recovery and take action.
Together we won’t be forgotten. #WontBeForgotten