Charities giving vital support to millions of disabled people could close without emergency funds.
Meanwhile millions of disabled people are feeling anxious, isolated and forgotten by the UK Government,
Disability Charity Consortium (DCC) members say there has been no coherent strategy to support the UK’s 14 million disabled people through the coronavirus pandemic.
The Government announced £750 million worth of funding for the UK charity sector, including £6 million in cash grants for charities such as for those supporting people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs.
But the DCC said this is “nowhere near enough to match the demand”, it is unclear what else is available and people with physical disabilities are particularly missing out.
The DCC estimates it will need at least £50 million from the Government, with projected losses of up to £75 million this year.
Melanie Duddridge, who has Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia and asthma and survived cancer five years ago, has not left her Cardiff home since March as she is shielding.
A community volunteer picks up shopping and goes to the pharmacy for her and her eight-year-old daughter, Morgan.
She has used Scope’s Navigate support service while her daughter goes through the diagnostic process for a potential autism spectrum disorder, which has been delayed by the outbreak.
Ms Duddridge, who struggles with chronic pain, depression and anxiety, said: “I haven’t even thought about getting my own support. You just go forward every day.
“You just keep going, you don’t want to slow down or stop and actually have to think about the situation and what it means and what is happening in the world.”
Scope has furloughed 70% of staff, and the DCC fears its members’ ability to continue supporting disabled people and their families is at risk amid rising demand.
Ms Duddridge added: “I worry for other parents that would have to go through these diagnostic processes with low confidence like I did, and a lack of direction. I feel like it would make the process a lot slower.
“For me, I think there might have been a time, if I hadn’t received Navigate services, that I might have given up in this process, because it’s so intense and so lengthy.”
Dr Amit Patel, who lost his sight in 2013, said it feels like there is “barely any support” from the Government for people who are visually impaired.
The author and disability activist from Greenwich, south east London, no longer feels able to go out with his guide dog Kika because people are failing to socially distance around him.
He said: “Yesterday it got to the stage where I left the house and within five minutes I encountered so many problems I just turned around and thought ‘No, I can’t do this, I can’t be safe on my own’.
“The problem is, it’s taken me so long to get my independence back, it feels like going 10 steps back now.”
He added: “I think a lot of disabled people rely on the help of charities, and obviously when everything stopped, the help and the support stopped, so a lot of visually impaired people felt very isolated… the one thing I realised when I lost my sight was how lonely it can be, if you don’t have anyone around, any contact, help and support, it really is difficult. It just becomes a struggle.”
DCC co-chairmen, Neil Heslop, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire and Mark Hodgkinson, chief executive of Scope, said: “Right now, we are collectively supporting millions of disabled people who are anxious, isolated and alone.
“Our staff are providing vital services, information and support under incredibly difficult circumstances. Sometimes we are the only place that disabled people have to turn.
“We want to be there for every disabled person who needs us, but this could soon be an impossibility.
“Disability charities, large and small, are at risk of disappearing at the very time that disabled people need us most. Without vital funds, we will have stark choices to make about cutting services or, in some cases, closing our doors.”
The Government was approached for comment.