A new documentary film has provided an insight into the lives of individual disabled people in Wales during the coronavirus pandemic.
The 35-minute Unlocked Lives film was produced by Disability Wales, and features a series of disabled people sharing their views on life during the pandemic, and describing some of the issues they have faced.
Disability Wales provided accessible video-making resources that allowed the participants to safely record their thoughts during the different waves of the pandemic.
Amanda, from Welshpool, talks on camera of how the pandemic has made life more accessible for many disabled people, which demonstrates how “this has been possible all along”.
She says: “Why weren’t we doing it sooner? You can make access work, and you can make work accessible. You might just have to think a little harder.
“And I think that’s been a problem in the world for a long time, that people just don’t think.
“A lot of people are desperate to get back face-to-face. I’m not. I’m happy to stay on Zoom forever.”
She predicts that it could be another year before there is a return to “any semblance of normality”, but she adds: “I don’t want to go back to that normal anyway because it excluded me.”
Trevor (pictured), from Newport, shares his fear that, although he is looking forward to the end of lockdown, he fears it will be eased too soon.
Several of the participants talk of how hobbies such as growing food, arts, knitting and looking after pets have helped them through the pandemic.
Others describe the communication and other difficulties caused by the widespread use of face masks.
Trevor says he found it difficult to communicate with his care workers when they were wearing masks so he designed a face covering with a transparent window for the mouth so that he – and those who rely on lip-reading and facial gestures – could find that easier.
Several of those who took part in the project talk about the mental health challenges the pandemic has posed for disabled people.
Jude, from Cardiff, says many people are “finding it really, really difficult out there.
“They still don’t know whether the information they’re told is right or wrong.
“They still don’t know whether it’s safe to go out or stay in.
“And a lot of people have sort of become agoraphobic in a way. Because now they’re told that they can go out, they’ve been in for so long, they’ve forgotten how to talk to people.”
David, from Brecon, says: “I have no idea what’s going to happen in the future because it’s all up in the air. No-one knows what’s happening.”
His partner Clare adds: “I don’t know, and I’m scared of it.”
But one participant, Tina, from Carmarthen, says that she does not believe all the “fear-mongering” about the virus, and she criticises media attempts at “brainwashing” people into attacking those who refuse to be vaccinated.
The film – funded by The National Lottery Community Fund Wales and co-produced by Dogma Films – premiered online on Friday.
Miranda Evans, policy and programmes manager for Disability Wales, said: “This has been a remarkable project, capturing the everyday life of disabled people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Each individual story is unique and provides personal insight into the highs and lows of lockdown.
“This project does not solely recount the issues and challenges of social isolation and disability during the COVID-19 outbreak, it also casts an eye on future societal reflection and attempts to create a stimulus for positive change and a drive to influence policymaking.”
Nic, from Cardiff, who features in the film, added: “Unlocked Lives has inspired me to speak out and tell others how life is as a disabled person.
“We need support, need our friends and family, and need people to treat us with respect like they treat others.
“We do not want to be locked away, instead we want to embrace life to the fullest.”
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