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Dear <<First Name>>

This is a strange and frightening time for our community. Some may be battling with Covid-19; many of us are fearful about how the infection would affect our health conditions, and most of us are probably spending all our energy getting hold of food and medicines. Whatever your situation, we hope you can stay safe.

This month we're sharing a blog post about what #selfisolation means for those of us who are ordinarily housebound, and news of our response to an important consultation about DWP and disabled people. We also look at problems with online grocery deliveries and the recent changes to Universal Credit.

Response to Covid-19 from the chronic illness community

image of house with padlock and the words "lock down"
"Is anyone else finding all the virtual yoga classes, museum tours, artistic exhibitions, theatre, cinema, reading groups… (the list goes on and on), not to mention all the remote work, kind of bittersweet?" Read more

This is what we've been asking ourselves at the CIIP. In this guest blog for Disability Wales we share the chronic illness community's response to Covid-19. When your normal life is housebound and isolated, how does it feel when a neighbour of 20 years suddenly offers help? And when the world suddenly discovers that socialising and working remotely are possible after all, how does it feel for those of us who were always told it was "too difficult" to include us?

Also, Victoria Clutton has written a guide for those new to the lockdown experience for our new website.

"If this is your first time having to live almost entirely in your home, it’s going to be difficult to adapt – but there are things you can do to help." Read more

Share it with your non-disabled friends and allies. You might find it increases awareness and solidarity for the future!

Can DWP reset its relationship with disabled people?


Paisley Department of Work and Pensions office to close – 300 jobs ...
Before the Covid-19 crisis took over, we responded to a consultation on how the DWP should improve the way it engages with disabled people.

The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) asked disabled people and their organisations what we think about the way DWP does, or does not, involve us in designing its policies.

We made three main recommendations:

1. Rebuild trust. Under WCA and PIP people with energy limiting chronic illness are often disbelieved and dismissed as not genuine disabled people. There can be no dialogue or partnership with us unless assessment systems listen to and validate our experiences of ill health and impairment.

2. Ensure representation. A large proportion of disability benefit claimants have issues with stamina and fatigue. We need to be consulted as a group of disabled people with a common experience of impairment, not siloed by our diagnoses.

3. Accessibility. Many people with ELCI are housebound and have significant cognitive dysfunction. Engagement processes and events need to reflect this. We need remote access to events and plenty of time for online responses.

Read our full response to the SSAC here

Supermarket deliveries and online advice sessions to know your rights

Last week the government announced a 'Shielded' category of vulnerable people due to age or underlying complex health needs. This has highlighted a number of problems in terms of being able to access supermarkets online facilities. Many of us who normally rely on online grocery deliveries due to energy limiting chronic illness are finding delivery slots unavailable because we are not included in the 'shielded' category. Disability rights experts at Fry Law have recognised that supermarkets need to do more for their customers requiring reasonable adjustments. They have designed a template letter that can be downloaded (click on "free download" button) to send to supermarkets to request priority access to online shopping.

Fry Law are offering free disability rights advice sessions delivered via a webinar, every Tuesday evening at 6pm. Register here to join and have the chance to ask questions on issues affecting you.

Disabled people left out of emergency benefits support

The Chancellor announced emergency measures within Universal Credit to bolster the benefits system for people losing their livelihoods due to Covid-19. But people already struggling due to illness or disability were left out of the plans. The Disability Benefits Consortium of charities wrote an open letter to the work and pensions secretary calling for a redress to this injustice. Among the measures they call for are:
  • An uplift of £20 per week to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and other "legacy" benefits to bring them in line with the new rates for Universal Credit.
  • All loans for those waiting up to five weeks for their first payment should become non-repayable grants.
  • The suspension of all conditionality and sanctions.
  • Claimants to have more time to gather medical evidence in view of GP's additional workload at present.
Finally, we would like to say a big thank you to Simon Duffy and Nicola Protopapadakis of the Centre for Welfare Reform for sponsoring and maintaining our lovely new website. We hope it keeps on growing and serving the chronic illness community.

Very best wishes,
Catherine Hale


Copyright © 2020 Chronic Illness Inclusion Project, All rights reserved.

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