Gathering on the Margins – 14 April

On Tuesday we had the third of our Gatherings on the Margins on Zoom. This week we talked about how lockdown is affecting the lives of disabled people.

We are having these gatherings every Tuesday at 2 pm. Join us on Zoom to connect with people across the country to hear each other’s stories, discuss issues that we are facing and share advice.

This week we were focussing on how lockdown is affecting the lives of disabled people. Stef Benstead, author of Second Class Citizens, shared some of her insights. Stef has been exploring the problems that disabled people face in accessing the support they need for the last eight years. She told us that one of the issues now is that many people have a lack of understanding of what the problems were before the virus struck, which means that there is a lack of understanding of what the issues are now. Stef told us about the experiences of a many different disabled people, especially the difficulties they are facing shopping or accessing food.

Read Stef’s blog post Living in Lockdown: sustainability here.

The additional difficulties accessing food many disabled and chronically ill people face was a common theme in the discussion. Not all those who need food deliveries are able to get them, and Penny explained that even if you are lucky enough to get a delivery slot, the food you order might not arrive, or what you receive might not be adequate. Ben pointed out that even government food parcels might not be adequate, for example, a tin of tomatoes is not suitable for a 94-year-old with dementia who wouldn’t be able to open it, let alone cook with it.

We also heard how the lockdown can exacerbate mental health conditions. Those who rely on others to shop for them may feel guilty about sending others out to get their food or frustrated at their lack of independence. The lack of social contact can make anxiety and depression much worse and, as Penny pointed out, vulnerable people told to self-isolate by the government can feel that they are being banished to their houses

Both Penny and Andrew talked about how those needing medical treatment are left in a difficult position as their treatments are postponed or cancelled, and they are left without the support they need to cope with their medical conditions.

We were also joined by Evan Odell from Disability Rights UK. He talked about concerns about social care, and how the Coronavirus Bill allows local authorities to suspend their responsibilities under the Care Act, but it is unclear exactly how this process will be overseen.

Next week we will be discussing the benefits system. Join us on Zoom at 2 pm on the 21st April.

If you have any feedback or suggestions for these gatherings, contact me at

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