Disabled people in Scotland victims of Covid-19

bottom half of a person in a wheelchair
bottom half of a person in a wheelchair Image credit:

A number of charities in Scotland have been hit by the pandemic, the Sunday Mail has heard how organisations supporting people with disabilities are struggling.

Salena Begley, of Family Fund, said: “Parents and carers have said there has been a sense of them being forgotten.

“Families have said the additional planning that was required to support disabled children in the face of the ­pandemic simply did not ­happen. One family told us very early on that ‘we are alone’.

“It’s been extremely challenging year for families with disabled children. And it is clear it is going to take a lot of time to recover.

“Today, some families across Scotland will be thinking of booking a holiday or going to the pub as restrictions ease.

“But families with disabled children are worrying if they can afford to keep a roof over their heads.”

A report found two out of three families with disabled children have had their household and personal debt increased over the past twelve months.

One in five families said they were being forced to work less hours so they can spend more time looking after their disabled children, 20 per cent have had to quit their jobs all together and become full-time carers.

Nine out of 10 families revealed they could not afford their debts, 70 per cent have been forced to turn to personal loans to cover the cost.

Half of the families admitted they have outstanding council tax bills to pay.

The report said: “The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the support families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people receive has been substantial.

“In some cases it has exacerbated an already difficult situation that families were facing before the start of the pandemic.”

A report conducted by Inclusion Scotland said: “Some disabled people’s lives changed dramatically and almost instantaneously when the country went into lockdown.

“People who have spent years organising and managing their own care and support (and often fighting for access to it) lost it overnight as authorities had little or no backup plans in place.

“This has had a considerable emotional impact on people who felt abandoned by services at a time when they were most needed.”

Kenneth Fleming from the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities (SCLD) told the Daily Record: “Children with additional support needs have been more impacted than other children.

“Support by councils has been suspended. Not just schools but things like respite care too. Even with lockdown measures lifting, the services have either been brought back at a reduced capacity or not at all.

“There are real fears that the support packages might never recover.

“There could be an ­argument put forward that since families coped during the ­pandemic they can continue to cope without the services. That is a really big worry.

“For us, these sort of support packages are a human rights issue and as a country we need to find the money.”

Gina Wilson, head of strategy for the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been a human rights crisis affecting all ­children, but disabled children have been disproportionately affected by the public health restrictions.

“As we move out of the pandemic the human rights of disabled children must be a key part of the recovery with services and care resumed as quickly as possible.”

The report found the situation was compounded by rising household bills such as food and energy costs.