Suffolk woman calls on Covid inquiry to focus on experience of disabled

Valerie Pask hopes that the experiences of the disabled during the pandemic will not be ignored. 

Valerie Pask hopes that the experiences of the disabled during the pandemic will not be ignored. - Credit: Sense

A deafblind woman from Woodbridge hopes that the inquiries into the pandemic will focus on the experience of disabled people. 

Valerie Pask, 71, is one of hundreds of disabled people and their carers who are calling for the Government's inquiry into the handling of the pandemic to focus on their experiences. 

Mrs Pask - who also has a rare illness which has meant she had to shield during the pandemic - said she had struggled in the past 18 months. 

She said: “During lockdown I lost my support worker, and my husband and I had to shield, so access to groceries was really difficult. In the first six weeks of lockdown, we could not get a delivery slot and we had to rely on emergency packs.  

Valerie Pask from Woodbridge

Valerie Pask from Woodbridge - Credit: Sense

“I have also really struggled to access doctor’s appointments. I have a hearing impairment and the emphasis on booking and having appointments via the phone has been really difficult and distressing."

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In the East of England 75% of disabled people think that if the public inquiry doesn't investigate the impact of the pandemic on the disabled, then the same mistakes will happen again, while 70% say their needs have been overlooked and they haven’t received enough support. 

The same research found 64% believed their mental health has got worse during the pandemic while 46% say they have had a deterioration in physical health during the pandemic. 

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“I'm passionate that my experience and that of other disabled people is heard," said Mrs Pask.

"We are the ones who have suffered the most during the pandemic. In order to protect disabled people in the future I think our voices need to be central to this inquiry.”  

Richard Kramer, chief executive of Sense, a charity which helps those with complex disabilities, said: “The experience of disabled people must be at the heart of this inquiry.  

“We have to investigate the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on disabled people and the decisions and policies that have led to this outcome. 

“Never again should disabled people have to experience the lack of information, support and consideration that they have during this crisis."  

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