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Disabled man dies due to lack of food during lockdown

25 June 2020

A disabled man has died during the Coronavirus lockdown because he couldn’t access food supplies.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, MP for Streatham, London, told the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee of her constituent’s plight while seeking the opinions of leading disability charities, including Disability Rights UK, about the government’s “reluctance” to expand its list of clinically vulnerable people, despite reports of people with disabilities struggling to get food through supermarket priority delivery slots.

DR UK’s Head of Policy, Fazilet Hadi said that there has been “cynicism and a suspicion that people are somehow trying to work the system by somehow declaring a vulnerability”.

She went on to say that we should be “past that in terms of that kind of way of thinking about human beings.

“Because there’s no promotion of what their reasonable adjustments are, we’re all getting very, very different experiences depending on the kindness and helpfulness and training of the staff in our particular supermarket.

“I think it’s been (an) appalling catalogue, I understand why there was a disaster in the first couple of weeks, but I do not understand why the supermarkets are failing to take responsibility for their own disabled customers.”

Disability Rights UK, along with three other witnesses, also highlighted the government’s general failure to engage with disabled people during the Coronavirus crisis, the inaccessibility of information for disabled people, and inadequate communication. Other issues raised included inequalities in access to health care, reductions in social care, and inadequate support for disabled children and those with special educational needs.