Covid-19: discrimination

My parents are 80 years old.  They were poor as children and both left school at 15 without much of an education.  They are not au fait with technology and struggle just to use their cordless phone – they don’t have a tablet or the internet.

My Mum is severely disabled and my Dad has mobility issues and mild dementia.  They both wear hearing aids so even speaking on the phone can be challenging.

Most of the information regarding the pandemic is being made available online.  From important new laws, to Government recommendations on social distancing, to whether or not their recycling is being collected as usual.  They have access to NONE of it.

Each day, the British Government do a televised daily briefing.  The Scottish briefing is signed for the deaf.  The English briefing is not.  Apparently, deaf people don’t need to know what’s happening.

There are NO home delivery slots available for groceries for the next 3 weeks (shame on you if you have booked a slot but are under 70 and healthy), forcing the very old, the disabled and the chronically sick onto the street for food.  I don’t know if you’ve ever gone round a supermarket on a mobility scooter or in a wheelchair, but 80% of the items on the shelves are inaccessible.  You can only reach the food on the shelves at eye level, so often have to ask others to pass you stuff.  But of course, we are social distancing and this can currently not happen.  How, then, are these vulnerable people supposed to shop?  Or get through a checkout when the operator is behind a screen?  (which obviously they have to be, I’m just pointing out the situation from a disabled person’s perspective).

I’ve lived for nearly 20 years in a tiny hamlet in the Lake District.  I’ve spent the week dealing with a very poorly 80 year old parent, so forgot to put my mobility scooter on charge.  I need to be strict with social distancing, as I am caring for very ill parents, so am taking my daily exercise on the edge of my village (I can only walk short distances on the flat).  Normally I’d go out on my mobility scooter, but as the battery was dead I drove ¼ mile to the edge of the village in order to get fresh air and walk my little dog (the only companion I have as I live alone).  I was hollered at by a neighbour for making an unnecessary journey.

My genetic disease, and brain injury, aren’t going to suddenly disappear because there is a pandemic.  I may not be able to live exactly by the rules all of the time because I am not healthy or fit.  Does that mean I should be verbally attacked in the street?

We are only 10 days into lockdown and already neighbours are becoming vigilantes.  It reminds me of the Jews in the war who were turned on by their communities and dobbed in by neighbours they’d known all their lives.

It’s already becoming dog eat dog.

Some people think they’re being good neighbours by offering to shop and help the vulnerable in their communities.  And while this is admirable, these people didn’t get sick or old or disabled last week.  They have struggled and lived in isolation for years, while you have busily gone about your life and ignored them.  And when the pandemic is over, you will ignore them again.

We are not a “community”.  We are the sick and the healthy.  The young and the old.  The able-bodied and the non-able-bodied.  We live totally separate lives and none more so than now.



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