UK Parents of disabled children facing a hard time during the lockdowns

Parents of disabled children have not been adequately supported by the local authorities across the UK.

The disruptions of the education sector by the spread of coronavirus has resulted in disabled children carers being furloughed or working minimally with the children. The disabled children have also been forced to stay at home and away from institutions that offered them help.

Lack of support for disabled children

Parents of these children have had to step in and take on the responsibilities of the carers. The transitions have not been easy with many parents now taking care of their children without any support from the local authority carers. After the shutdowns, these parents became an afterthought while implementing how an education at home will be run.

SEND [special educational needs and disabilities] students support has also been minimal with government spokesperson highlighting they were working hard to help deliver quality education to these students. The spokesperson highlighted they had made online resources available to these students and were allocating funding worth £26.4m to support families of disabled children during this crisis.

However, for parents such as Jean Wilson, a mother of a disabled 17-year-old girl, Emily, and who also runs New Hope Worcester, a charity supporting families of disabled, the situation has been hard. She said, together with her husband, they were caring for their disabled child 24 hours without receiving any help from the local authority carers.

A widespread problem

She indicated this was a microcosm of what was happening around the country. Parents were under immense pressure, emotional, and physical strain as they try to balance their work-life with caring for their children during the crisis.

For parents who were taking care of high-risk children, who the virus is becoming severe for those infected, they expressed fears of even contacting carers. For these parents, the solution has been to lock themselves from the outside world to avoid contracting the virus which might turn fatal to their children.

UK data shows there are approximately 1.1 million children who are classified as having some form of disability. The data also shows that 87,000 children have life-threatening conditions that are exacerbated by coronavirus.

Expert opinion

Katie Clarke, executive director and co-founder of Bringing Us Together, a community of disabled children and their parents, said these families were anxious to the extent of being unable to sleep. She explained the lack of support has hugely contributed to the crisis these parents are facing.

The fact that these families are not in the most vulnerable list has led to their neglect, according to Clarke. She explained that they were left with no help and they have had to use their wits to at least mitigate the situation they find themselves in.

Emily Holzhausen, director of policy and public affairs at Carers UK, seconded Clarke’s sentiments by pointing out the increase in calls by these parents requiring their help. She also explained part of the problem these parents were going through was a result of a lack of support from the government.


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