Disabled People’s Organisations Hold a Demo Outside The COVID-19 Inquiry

Mon,9 October 2023
News Equality & Rights Health & Social Care
This morning, Disabled People’s Organisations and activists gathered outside the building holding the COVID-19 Inquiry to protest the Government’s handling of the pandemic and impact on older and Disabled people. 

There were representatives from WinVisible, Inclusion London, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Disability Rights UK, as well as grieving families campaigning for accountability from the Government. 

With chants of ‘Disability Justice Now’, ‘30,000 died of lack of social care under the coronavirus act – Johnson and Hancock on the block!’ 

The speeches came from a variety of DPOs, with poignant, heartbreaking and also rousing statements. 

Rensa Gaunt, from Inclusion London, said ‘many of us died not because of COVID but because our essential care and treatment was withdrawn without consideration.' 

'Unless lessons are learned, this will happen again. COVID information briefings were not provided in BSL until the British government were taken to court and forced to provide BSL. 

'For food and medication we've been forced to rely on the goodwill and charity of strangers doing good deeds. But the central idea of the Disabled People’s Movement is rights not charity. It should not be left to chance whether someone feels charitable enough towards us today, or whether we feel able to ask for support. We cannot afford to be an afterthought yet again' 

Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy from DR UK went on to say 'the COVID Inquiry take account of the callous and brutal way Disabled people were ignored and neglected. I listened to the evidence today and it's absolutely shocking, that the government had all the resources at its fingertips and still failed to plan to save our lives.' 

'The outrageous coronavirus act that limited our rights to social care, that literally in the time of emergency took away our rights - that is completely unthinkable and unacceptable. We were then told we weren't valued enough, we were expendable, people had Do Not Resuscitate put on their files, that they didn't need to be saved.' 

Paula Peters, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said 'if I didn't have access to Facebook, Whatsapp, Email, I wouldn't have been able to ask for basic essentials like toilet paper and paracetamol. But for thousands of Disabled people, many didn't have access to the internet to call out for support, and they were abandoned, left to isolate at home. We want justice for every single Disabled people and older person left to die as a result of government policies.'

Claire, from WinVisible, went on to say ‘it was absolutely shocking to see the letter which Kamran Mallick from DR UK had sent to the government in 2020 warning about the transmission in care homes and in our own homes, which was completely dismissed by the government in a policy of a deliberate cull of Disabled people. We are determined to see Johnson and Hancock in the dock for their crimes.' 

'We're against survival of the fittest, we see that in all types of contexts, with climate change, that our survival is deprioritised. We are here and we're determined for others to be here and we're fighting for justice.' 

Learn more about the evidence given by DPOs, including Kamran Mallick, DR UK’s CEO, in our news article here.