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Charity issues warning over lockdown impact on disabled young people and their families in the Highlands

By Staff Reporter

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John Beaton of Inclusion Scotland.
John Beaton of Inclusion Scotland.

A charity is warning of a crisis in social care for children and young people with disabilities and their families across the Highlands.

Inclusion Scotland – which works on behalf of disabled people – fears many are at breaking point due to the Covid-19 outbreak and resulting lockdown.

A survey it has conducted suggests that both disabled people themselves and their carers have been feeling the strain.

It found that a third of Highland respondents reported that changes in routines and increasing social exclusion had a major impact on the availability of social care.

"We need to listen more closely to voices of disabled children, young people and their families to ensure their needs are met."
John Beaton

Nearly half experienced a reduction or even complete withdrawal of care while two-thirds found it difficult to access specialist dietary needs and medicines.

At the same time, it was also reported that schools or clubs closed due to the lockdown had been the only social outlet for many, further deepening the effects of isolation.

Three-quarters of respondents in the region said they were suffering a reduced level of mental health and wellbeing.

A report drawing on the survey stated: “Restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic for these disabled children and young people have exacerbated pre-existing barriers to accessing routine education activities in the community, additional support for learning, social care support, specialist dietary needs and medicines.”

Inclusion Scotland has now brought its findings to the attention of politicians, council officers and charitable partners across the Highlands.

The charity’s policy and engagement officer, John Beaton, said: “The effects of the lockdown and all the following changes to the way we live our lives has been huge.

“However, for disabled children and young people, and their families, this has pushed many to breaking point.

“It’s important to remember that this affects entire households, not just the young person.

“Family carers themselves are reporting increased stress and anxiety from a variety of sources.

“Three in four families who responded to our survey in Highland self-reported an adverse impact on their health and wellbeing and that of their disabled children and young people.

“We acknowledge the effort partners in both the charitable and public sector have made to respond to the Covid-19 crisis.

“However, we need to listen more closely to voices of disabled children, young people and their families to ensure their needs are met.”

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