In the UK, COVID-19 risk to vulnerable people is ignored or minimised. Unnecessary deaths are accepted, even justified. As if the death of vulnerable people was less important and their lives less valuable. When have we stopped caring in this country?
First published in September 2021.
Stacey McCann is a disabled Clinically Vulnerable (CV) mother of two young children – one CV with SEND and one Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) with complex health problems, living near London. She wrote this very moving and important piece for PMP Magazine:
Our family is forced to stay at home to protect ourselves.
Covid-19 poses a huge risk to us as I am clinically vulnerable and so is one of our boys, while our other son is clinically extremely vulnerable. If the boys or I were to catch the virus we are at risk of being hospitalised with severe illness, developing more lifelong health problems, or dying.
Our 6-year-old is at the greatest risk of all of us and would have a high chance of not surviving the infection if he were to catch it. My husband and I have sat helplessly next to his hospital bedside, watching him lying there on oxygen and IVs, fighting with infections and severe asthma attacks. Neither myself nor my husband ever want to have to do that again. We would clearly be taking unnecessary and irresponsible risks with our son’s life were we not to shield.
Despite this we – and other vulnerable people – are shunned by society for choosing to keep our loved ones safe when there are virtually no safety mitigations in the UK, except for vaccinations.
When our government opened up the whole country under their guise of “Freedom Day”, it was clear that they had stopped caring about people’s health and lives, and had chosen to leave everyone at the mercy of a deadly airborne virus.
“Freedom Day” actually meant “Enforced Isolation Day” for most vulnerable people. It wasn’t just for a day either. We are forced to stay at home to protect ourselves because, without safety mitigations in place, it isn’t safe for us to go anywhere.
My family has lived this reality for the last 18 months. We go to medical appointments wearing masks, then we come home and wash our clothes, wash ourselves and clean anything we had to take with us. We cannot freely see family because we are shielding so carefully.
For my boys to see their grandparents, we have to wait for them to be able to isolate first. We haven’t seen the rest of our family, apart from in photos, for over a year. We are forced to make all of these sacrifices so that other people can go about their business however they choose, and forget that vulnerable families exist.
In England and the rest of the UK, any risk to vulnerable people is ignored or minimised. Any deaths are met with the argument that “they had/probably had underlying health conditions anyway”. It’s as if the death of vulnerable people is less important and our lives are less valuable.
When did we become a nation that accepts and excuses unnecessary death? When did we stop caring?
The National Covid Memorial Wall, London.
It is not only vulnerable people who have been cast aside, but children too, with schools also having virtually no protections. The vaccination programme for 12 to 15-year-olds is only just beginning, and thousands of children are catching the virus every day. Last week alone, there were 100,000 children unable to go to school due to infection from Covid-19, and teachers and parents are also becoming infected as a result.
Meanwhile, anti-vax protestors are pushing disinformation leaflets onto children as they leave school in the hope of turning them away from the vaccination. Amidst all this chaos, families who wish to keep their children safe at home are being threatened and fined for doing so, even those who are clinically vulnerable.
My boys are educated at home, but the issue of schools being safe is still so important to me. Safe schools mean safer communities. The pandemic for us means that my children have to participate in activities on Zoom instead of in-person. My boys play musical instruments but have never had an in-person lesson. They are dancers, but we have to pay for private Zoom lessons instead of them dancing in person with their StreetDance crew. If the government had taken a strong suppression and elimination stance from the start, my boys would not have had to make this sacrifice. We wouldn’t have to make other sacrifices as a family, every day.
Right now, I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, but I do know that it’s there. I am determined to make sure the dehumanisation of vulnerable people by our own government will not be allowed to stand. I refuse to accept the social inequality which means the vulnerable are seen to be of less value.
We can suppress and eliminate this virus, and bring back the genuine freedom that has been missing for far too long. But this can only happen if we all do what is necessary to suppress and eliminate Covid-19. Whether that means masks and other school safety measures, or even the reintroduction of restrictions across society. Any of them will be worthwhile if they call a halt to rampant illness, suffering, and unnecessary death.
Before the “healthy” take freedom for granted, I think everyone needs to consider one thing, as said by a friend of mine several weeks ago:
“We are all only one serious illness away from becoming the next vulnerable person.”
— AUTHORS —
▫ Stacey McCann, Co-Founder of One Voice Support Group for CV and CEV families. One Voice often works closely in collaboration with Parents United UK and is also connected with a German support group called Mit Abstand Glucklich who support all isolating German families.
GET THEM INVOLVED:
[This piece was first published in PMP Magazine on 29 Sept 2021. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]
(Cover: Pixabay / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)