London, UK - June 22, 2018: Disabled man sitting in a wheelchair or electric scooter outside a shop
London, UK - June 22, 2018: Disabled man sitting in a wheelchair or electric scooter outside a shop

Disabled people struggle to get food and essential items during lockdown

‘I’m worried about running out of food,’ says Charles Bloch

Matt Mathers
Friday 01 May 2020 14:06

Almost half of disabled people say they are struggling to get essential items during lockdown, according to a new poll.

A higher risk of infection and longer queues at supermarkets means that people with disabilities have become more reliant on online orders during the pandemic.

But a survey by the charity Scope found that 38 per cent of disabled adults who needed or tried to book a slot over the past three weeks couldn’t secure one.

As a result, 46 per cent of 585 people surveyed said they had issues accessing food and essential items.

Meanwhile, those who are going out to the supermarket are facing aggressive and hostile behaviour from other shoppers.

A quarter said they have experienced negative attitudes from other shoppers, while one in seven has had a bad experience with supermarket staff.

There are 13.9 million people in the UK living with a disability, according to Scope.

Charles Bloch has asthma and is registered blind but has struggled to get a delivery slot, despite being given vulnerable status after applying online.

The 26-year-old from Coventry said: “Shops are still busy, and people aren’t moving out of the way for me and my guide dog.

“I’m worried about running out of food. I should be self-isolating. I have asthma which means I’m vulnerable, and right now I’m having to risk my life to get food.”

James Taylor, Scope’s executive director of strategy, impact and social change, called on the government to do more to ensure that all disabled people can access food and other essential items during lockdown.

He added: “Shopping is already a difficult task for many disabled people, and now many are telling us they feel judged and compelled to explain their condition just to be able to shop safely.

“It’s crucial that new rules to protect people, such as asking people to queue outside supermarkets, don’t make it harder or impossible for disabled people to shop.

“Disabled people also have the right to reasonable adjustments, and these rights shouldn’t be thrown aside or forgotten about.

“The government and supermarkets need to listen to disabled people and develop a consistent and co-ordinated approach and urgently act to expand its ‘vulnerable’ list, to make sure all disabled people can safely get the food and essentials they need.”

A government spokesperson said: “We are working to support people who do not fall into the category of being clinically extremely vulnerable, but still need help getting essential food supplies.

“This could include those who are elderly, disabled or have health conditions that make it difficult for them to get the food they need.

“Wherever possible, people should continue to rely on friends, family and wider community support. Where this is not possible, local councils may be able to offer emergency support. All councils have dedicated helplines which people can call to find out how they can get help accessing food or other essential supplies.”

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