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Pandemic has taken away confidence from disabled people

Warren Newman holding a walking stick
Warren Newman holding a walking stick Image credit: bbc.co.uk

With lockdown restrictions set to ease on July 19 disabled people have raised concerns about leaving the house.

For many, shielding since March 2020 thousands of vulnerable people have said they have lost their confidence.

Warren Newman (pictured above) has hearing loss and a rare genetic disorder, wearing face masks for the past sixteen months restricted his means of communication.

The 31-year-old from Oldbury led an independent lifestyle before the pandemic when he was working at Touchbase Pears, a social enterprise run by Sense, in Birmingham.

"I can't go out at the moment in the pandemic, everyone has got to stay isolated and stay separate and they must wear their masks,” he told the BBC.

"It is really impossible to lip read and I use sign language, I am a deaf person so it makes it challenging for me if people are wearing masks.

"With my deafness and disability, I find it hard to access a community space because of communication difficulties," Newman added

"I would like to see that venues [and] activities can be adapted in order to meet disabled people's needs."

The government are being urged by Sense to ensure disabled people are not “left behind” when restrictions are eased.

Research by the charity revealed 56% of disabled people said they would not feel safe going out in public because they have concerns about their health, 39% admitted they would feel anxious because they are unable to wear a face mask or stick to social distancing measures.

Campaigns officer for Sense, Steven Morris said: "A really key thing our research found out is that we need the public to be understanding and patient with people for example who can't wear a face covering or might need that little bit more space outside if they are struggling to keep their distance."

Newman’s father, Ray, added: "Lockdown has just affected him that's all, he just couldn't go anywhere.

"He's started to pick a little bit of his confidence back up now because he knows he has had his two [Covid] injections."

A recent BBC study provided evidence disabled people are being left behind in the pandemic.