Help us call for disabled people to be heard in the Covid-19 Inquiry

You can act now to support our campaign for the Government to include disabled people in the Covid-19 Inquiry. Our Campaigns Manager Lizzie explains how.

A boy and a woman look at the National Covid Memorial Wall.

Last week marked two years since the first Covid-19 lockdown in the UK. As Campaigns Manager at Sense, I’ve seen how, for many disabled people, this also marks a full two years of having needs and support deprioritised.

The Government has now announced the next steps on the public inquiry and published the draft Terms of Reference. The terms are essentially an outline of the areas the inquiry will investigate and how it will be investigated.

You can help improve the inquiry and make sure it learns from the experiences of disabled people. This consultation is open until 7 April.

What you can do to make sure disabled people are heard

While this part of the inquiry isn’t about gathering evidence and personal experience of the pandemic (that bit comes next year), it’s a really important first step. It could also impact the way the inquiry is run and how accessible this is.

Fill in the online consultation survey and give your views on the Draft Terms of Reference. I’ve outlined the main points to add on key pages – but please use your own words.

If you need an accessible version of the survey, you can request this by emailing [email protected]

What to say in the survey

Page 1: Do the inquiry’s draft Terms of Reference cover all the areas you think it should?

The Terms should include three key things:

1. Specific reference to disabled people

The Terms of Reference mentions people with ‘protected characteristics’ but we’re concerned that without specific reference to disabled people, their experiences won’t be heard.

2. Impact on mental health and wellbeing

We must investigate the impact the pandemic has had on disabled people’s wellbeing, to make sure the right support is in place in future.

3. The impact on disabled people’s human rights

Disabled people have a right to personal care, to eat, drink, communicate, move, take medication, access therapeutic support, to grow and be free from pain. Throughout Covid-19, often these rights were seen as an “add on” and deprioritised in favour of decisions that favoured the general population.

Page 3: Which issues do you think the Inquiry should look at first?

We think that the inquiry should focus on investigating the impact on those who’ve been disproportionately affected by Covid-19.

At the end of 2020, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that of the Covid-19 deaths that happened between January to November, six in 10 were of disabled people.

Page 5: How should the Inquiry be designed and run to ensure that bereaved people or those who have suffered serious harm have their voices heard?

At Sense, we’ve been campaigning for the inquiry to be run in an accessible way so that everyone has the opportunity to engage with it.

To make sure the inquiry is accessible, we would like to see:

1. Consultation with disabled people

Disabled people and those with lived experience should be consulted with and offered a variety of ways to have their views and voices heard, including by video, focus groups and storytelling. This shouldn’t only be through formal written submissions.

2. Accessible information

All information, including written forms or documents, any broadcasted sessions and promotion of the inquiry, should be available in accessible formats.

Join us in calling for disabled people to be heard.