So it’s time to come out of lockdown is it?
The shops are now back open, the pubs, cafes and restaurants can all open with social distancing and our local veg delivery has stopped coming as the lockdown has eased.
I’m just thinking – what difference will this ‘new normal’ make for me and other disabled people?
We were so hopeful when during lockdown everyone was in the same boat, we were all unable to leave the house, unable to shop, unable to socialise. Our social life was limited to Zoom quizzes, FaceTime-ing family members and friends, and for those locked down alone, it was painting by numbers, adult colouring books and that new book you had been meaning to read.
We applauded the carers, the bin men, the NHS workers, the bus drivers and the rail workers. We were truly thankful and grateful for the magnificent work and effort they were giving to those Covid patients and those others who kept the infrastructure going.
But now? When those limits on us are being lifted day by day, will anyone remember those sad and lonely times we had when lockdown hit home? When we realised that no, you couldn’t see your grown up children, you couldn’t hug your grandchildren, you couldn’t get the care you needed and that once your computer/iPad/whatever was switched off, the realisation and the worry of how exactly were you going to get the weekly shop and knowing that half of it would be out of stock anyway?
All of a sudden, it now seems that the end of lockdown is the end of unity, the end of a time of togetherness, the end of empathy even.
Will the non disabled people who are now back in their ‘real‘ lives remember how difficult lockdown was? Will they remember the physical pain of missing their loved ones, the inability to get an online delivery slot, the loneliness of a housebound existence?
Because for many disabled and chronically ill people, the end of lockdown makes no difference to their lives; they will still not be able to go out to their local pub on a Friday or pop over to the park to play with their children or grandchildren. Many of them will still be housebound or unable to leave the house unassisted.
I was so hopeful at the full lockdown stage, I felt that the enforced ‘stay at home‘ message would surely change people’s attitude to disabled people as they too felt the loss of control over their daily life. I honestly thought that there was bound to be a majority of people who would see us as equals for maybe the first time as they shared some of our ‘normal‘. I hoped that they would see our obstacles clearly at last; our struggles, our difficulties and want to help us overcome them as of course we were now ‘all in the same boat’?
Why then am I filled with dread over what’s going to happen next now we have a ‘new normal’? With all the money being pumped into the the economy to keep things going, will I see a huge investment in accessibility so that we, as disabled people, could contribute to our country’s economic recovery too by being able to access all shops, every pub, restaurant and cafe, all theatres, cinemas etc?
So far it’s just wishful thinking. So when I feel confident to venture out, will I still be denied access to a multitude of buildings and still be what feels like a second class citizen?
I’m afraid I will.
Since entering the disabled world 5 years ago, I didn’t realise the dearth of accessible buildings in this country and was, and still am, shocked by it. I live with chronic pain every day – so the days I can venture out are limited by that in the first place – but then I’m further limited by the apparent malaise of councils to make my locality accessible to me – which then makes me feel less confident about venturing out in the first place.
I fight hard everyday to combine my bone crushing pain with a semblance of a ‘real’ life and like every disabled person I’ve ever spoken to, I feel let down by the surroundings in which we live and which we cannot escape, lockdown or no lockdown.
And that cannot be right, can it?
So when you’re breathing a sigh of relief about being able to get out and about again, if you will, spare a thought for those of us who will be left behind, yet again……….
“Being disabled should not mean being disqualified from having access to every aspect of life“
Miranda Hart (my absolute favourite 💕)
“The thing about chronic illness is that there’s a daily grief.
Theres a daily sense of disappointment”
William E Lightbourne
Hold my hand and walk with me
We must break the back of social inequity
We must empower every individual with a disabilty
To live with dignity in an inclusive society