New research shows that more than four in ten people who have been told to “shield” at home because they are “extremely vulnerable” to COVID-19 have lost at least a fifth of their income since the pandemic crisis began.
And more than one in 10 of them are working outside their home, despite the potential risk to their health.
Citizens Advice said many of those told to shield because of an underlying health condition that puts them at particular risk from the virus were suffering financially because of a flaw in government guidance.
The government has advised 2.5 million people who are “extremely clinically vulnerable” to shield at home until the end of June at the earliest, but it does not oblige employers to “furlough” them, through a scheme in which the government pays up to 80 per cent of the wages of workers placed on leave because of the pandemic.
Citizens Advice said that analysis of about 2,000 of the employment cases it has advised on since 14 April that relate to people who are shielding or are at higher risk from coronavirus showed more than 70 per cent of them had not been not furloughed.
Dame Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice’s chief executive, said: “Unless people who are shielding have a right to be furloughed while their health is at risk, some will continue to face an impossible choice: paying the bills or protecting their health.”
A new seven-part drama-documentary podcast about the life of an autistic woman – in her own words – is the latest in a series of productions commissioned by Disability Arts Online in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The podcast, 213 Things About Me (pictured), tells the story of Rose through a list of the traits she makes after being diagnosed as autistic and before she took her own life just six months later.
It is based on her writing and conversations with her close friend Richard Butchins, the disabled writer, film-maker and journalist, who writes, narrates and directs the podcast, which stars actor Rosa Hoskins, daughter of the late Bob Hoskins.
It describes Rose’s attempts to find a relationship, a job and a decent place to live, and “is loaded with dark humour and astute observations”.
It is based on an installation by Butchins that was commissioned by the disability arts commissioning programme Unlimited, and a theatre performance staged by Hoskins at Battersea Arts Centre two years ago.
The podcast launches today (28 May), with the next six episodes released weekly, with the last on 7 July.
It is published by Disability Arts Online as part of its Covid Commissions season, which was launched in response to the “unprecedented situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak”.
A pan-London disabled people’s organisation has received funding to help reach community groups working with those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The £15,000 funding for Inclusion London is part of London Community Response, which aims to help fund the capital’s community and voluntary organisations following lockdown, and which is supported by the mayor of London and the City Bridge Trust.
The funding will allow Inclusion London to spend three months ensuring that the needs of organisations led by Deaf and disabled people in the capital are being met by London Community Response.
As part of that work, they will support user-led groups to access the fund through one-to-one guidance, workshops and information sessions.
Tracey Lazard, Inclusion London’s chief executive, said: “Inclusion London welcomes this exciting opportunity for collaborative working with other equalities infrastructure organisations and London Community Response funders to ensure the needs of our marginalised communities most affected by the COVID-19 crisis are met and structural inequalities tackled.”
A befriending scheme to help people with learning difficulties access mainstream music is appealing for musicians to perform at its virtual music festival.
The online music festival, @CoronavirusFest, was set up after the imposition of lockdown in March in a bid to keep people with learning difficulties connected through music while venues are closed.
Gig Buddies, a scheme run by the charity Stay Up Late in Sussex, hopes its @CoronavirusFest project will also provide an opportunity for musicians to perform, rehearse material and promote themselves during lockdown.
The online festival takes place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8 and 9pm, with the chance to perform a short gig through Facebook Live open to musicians of all abilities, with and without learning difficulties.
Gig Buddies helps people with learning difficulties access mainstream music, art and culture by linking them up with local volunteers with the same interests.
It is run by Stay Up Late, which was set up to help people with learning difficulties who are prevented from leading full and active social lives because of support workers who do not offer support past 10pm.
*For sources of information and support during the coronavirus crisis, visit the DNS advice and information page
A note from the editor:
Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations.
Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009.
Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…