Influencing during Covid-19  

Covid-19  has impacted everyone’s lives, but for people with complex disabilities and their families, this has been an especially difficult time.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been campaigning to address inequalities revealed by the crisis, and raise awareness of the challenges disabled people and their families have been facing. As well as campaigning for funding and resources for disabled people, we’ve also been focusing on shorter term issues such as ensuring government is producing accessible information.  

A key part of our work has focused on Government guidance and legislation; ensuring that it considers and meets the needs of the people who we support.  This has also been important to us a service provider. 

As lockdown eases, and we shift towards the ‘new normal’, it’s important that the Government agenda doesn’t forget disabled people and their needs. We will be continuing to work on this and ensure that disabled people aren’t forgotten.  

What have we worked on? 

  • Accessible communications - In the early stages of the pandemic we were concerned that government communications weren’t being shared in accessible formats. We worked with other charities to campaign for more accessible information and secured regular contact with the Accessible Communications team in Government including a new lead official appointed to oversee this work. 
  • Giving evidence to Government We’ve responded to a number of calls for evidence and inquiries on the impact of Covid-19In early June, Emma Boswell, National Usher Co-ordinator, gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Committee in Parliament about the impact of inaccessible information on disabled people. 
  • Influencing guidance - We’ve worked with NHS England and Improvement, the Department of Health and Social Care, SCIE and Department for Education on guidance. 
  • Face coverings - Working with others across the sector, we were pleased when the Government guidance on face coverings included exemptions for some disabled people but called on the Government to communicate this more clearly.  
  • SEND Family webinars - Throughout the summer, we’ve been holding webinars for families to help them interpret changes to policy and guidance and give us a greater understanding of the key issues affecting disabled children and their parents. 
  • SEND joint letter - In June we led the coordination of a joint letter signed by several charities, to Secretary of State for Education, calling on him to cancel the easements made to the Children and Families Act 2014 and restore the rights and entitlements that children with SEND need.  
  • Forgotten Families - The pandemic has had a devastating impact on disabled adults and their families. Many community services have stopped operating, often overnight and without warning. In August 2020 we launched our #ForgottenFamilies campaign calling on government to reinstate community support. Find out how you can support the campaign. 
  • Clear masks - Working with Action on Hearing Loss and others we highlighted the challenges that PPE brought in terms of communication. This was particularly difficult for the people who we support and our staff. After raising this with the Department of Health and Social Care we are delighted that they have bought some new masks with clear panels which are safe for clinical use.