Dear Prime Minister,
The Coronavirus pandemic has deeply affected life for all in society. However, for over 2 million people labelled Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to Covid and asked to shield in March, life has become unrecognisable for many. Those with health conditions have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Many of these people are suffering with chronic, long term, and sometimes terminal health conditions. To then be told there is another threat to life on top of this was devastating. To not be able to have the comfort and support of friends and family, to not have a hand to hold whilst undergoing gruelling treatments and daily health struggles.
Those shielding sacrificed more than the rest of society can imagine. Since March they have fought to be heard, to be listened to and understood. It seems the majority have failed to listen, leaving them feeling forgotten, invisible and unimportant. We must not allow this to be the message we send to future generations.
There were over 90 thousand children asked to shield. Their parents and families left fearful and anxious over the extra precautions needed to keep their already unwell children safe. Evidence shows that children are overall, not seemingly severely affected by Covid. However, for those with CEV children, the anxieties are still high.
Since schools have reopened in the UK there has been no advice and little put in place from the Government about how to protect CEV teaching and school staff, parents sending their children back to school or to protect CEV children returning. There has been a lot of coverage and discussion about protecting grandparents and the elderly but nothing about protecting the hundreds of thousands who are CEV who are not elderly. Similarly, nothing about those suffering with invisible conditions.
Those with chronic health conditions and disease need to be careful a lot of the time. Social distancing is now a new way of life for many, frequent hand washing, wearing masks to hospital appointments and to travel, avoiding busy places, missing social engagements and keeping away from anyone with colds, bugs and viruses is part of daily life.
We are asking the Government to:
1. Provide clear and concise information and guidance on how you aim to protect and support CEV parents/family members who have children that have returned to school, CEV teaching and school staff and CEV children.
2. To educate and inform the public regarding the hundreds of thousands of CEV who have invisible conditions, so the wider public are consciously more aware to give everyone the space they need.
3. To ensure schools and local education authorities do not penalize CEV families for not returning to school and provide support and understanding. The mental health impact for these children and their families is astronomical.
4. To offer more mental health support for the CEV.
5. More support and job protection for those who face losing employment due to feeling unsafe or too anxious to return to work.
6. Robust risk assessments in place for all employers to adhere to for CEV staff returning.
7. To recognise the Shieldus symbol as a symbol for those at risk. Thousands of CEV across the UK are wearing it, we have also supplied numerous NHS trusts. Our shielded superheroes story is being used in 100's of schools across the UK to educate young children about invisible illnesses.
It is crucial the Government provides support and information for the wider public regarding those who are CEV, to ensure these people do not feel forgotten and invisible. After months of enduring strict isolation there is a real risk that a mental health pandemic will follow.
Director, SHIELDUS CIC.