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Thousands struggle to buy food

03 April 2020

There are growing concerns that people with specific medical conditions who are unable to shop for food are still not recognised as eligible for an emergency government delivery scheme.

Sight loss charities are asking that blind and partially sighted people have access to the scheme. Supermarkets are also asking the government to extend the scheme to more disabled people. The government is now actively considering how the scheme could be extended and improved.

Fazilet Hadi said: “We welcome the government scheme and would like to see the eligibility criteria widened to cover all those who for medical reasons or for reasons of physical distancing, need to stay at home.

“We would like people to be able to self-refer for help, access the scheme by phone as well as online and for people to be given clear information on how their personal data will be used.

“Supermarkets and their staff are pulling out all the stops to ramp up supply and staffing at this unprecedented time. But we know of many cases where people who need to be self-isolating are still having to visit shops in person as they cannot get the help they need, nor any timeslots they need for online delivery.

“It is not just those with existing life-threatening conditions who cannot shop in person. Blind people, people with Alzheimer’s and people with learning disabilities are among groups who are unable to consistently gauge safe distances from people in public. They need to be offered accessible services at this time to keep them safe.

“Supermarkets need to consider the timing of special shopping hours, provide chairs for those in long queues, help people to pack shopping and carry it to cars, provide telephone and email ordering for those who can’t use online ordering, and provide online slots to disabled people as a priority group.

“Under the Equality Act supermarkets have a legal obligation to provide reasonable adjustments to disabled people and we would like to see more strategic and systematic approaches to meeting these obligations. These approaches must be based on consulting with disabled people.”

DR UK CEO Kamran Mallick has written to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock about food supply. You can read more on this here: https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/coronavirus-government-could-face-legal-action-over-food-delivery-fears/

Defra has posted a blog on national food provision here: https://deframedia.blog.gov.uk/2020/03/21/daily-update-on-the-coronavirus-response/

A petition has gone live which aims to persuade government to add blind and partially sighted people to the priority group for online shopping: https://bit.ly/2w4SMVD