Corrie shows how pandemic affects disabled workers

Izzy and Fergus in Coronation Street
Izzy and Fergus in Coronation Street Image credit:

Coronation Street will show the difficulties disabled people faced throughout the pandemic and the stress they were under working from home whilst having to shield.


Regulars viewers of the ITV soap have already seen Underworld managers Carla Connor and Sarah Barlow trying to support Izzy (Cherylee Houston) as she works remotely but next week Corrie reveals the she is struggling keeping up with her workload.

Izzy, who has Ehlers Danlos syndrome, is filmed at home by Houston and her partner Toby Hadoke, who has recently joined the cast playing her neighbour Fergus.

Unhappy with her employers work Carla threatens to sack Izzy if she does not return to the office.

The news is broken to Izzy via Sarah through a video link, but Fergus steps in telling Barlow his girlfriend’s health must come first.

Izzy’s situation reflects thousands of disabled workers who have been discriminated by their companies through the pandemic.

A YouGov survey on behalf of the TUC reveals 8 per cent of disabled people have been bullied and/or harassed by their business with 12 per cent concerned they may not be eligible for promotion in the future.

Cherylee herself has been shielding since last March, she was thrilled when her script allowed her to shoot scenes from her Manchester home.

“I have been unbelievably fortunate that my employers enabled me to continue shielding after the official shielding guidance ended in March. I’ve been so supported by ITV, but I’m aware that many of my disabled peers who were previously shielding haven’t had that safety and have been forced to make the decision to earn money to survive whilst facing the real fear of death or serious illness through Covid,” Cherylee told Mirror Online.

“There’s 14.1 million people in the UK, that’s 1 in 5 of us. We are employees, carers, front line workers, volunteers and a key part of every community. The pandemic has had an incredible impact on many disabled people due to social isolation, certain services being unavailable and a lack of understanding.”

The writers and producers have been working with Cherylee throughout the pandemic on the storyline.

Coronation Street Producer Iain MacLeod said: “We had to think outside the box in order to tell this story, devising new protocols and ways of scripting scenes that would allow Cherylee to film the scenes herself in her home.

It certainly helped that her partner Toby is a fabulous actor! Despite all the technical challenges we had to overcome, this was a story that needed telling and I hope it will resonate with millions of people who have found themselves in a similar position to Izzy - and perhaps open the eyes of millions of others who had little awareness of the issues facing disabled people during COVID.”

Coronation Street is on ITV – Times and Days vary throughout the Euro 2021 tournament.