A visually impaired author from Greenwich has spoken out about the isolation and fear he's experienced due to the coronavirus pandemic, joining millions of disabled people who say they are feeling anxious, isolated and forgotten by the government.

Disability Charity Consortium, made up of 10 charities, say there has been no coherent strategy to support the UK's 14 million disabled people through the pandemic.

One such person, Dr Amit Patel, said there had been "barely any support" from the UK Government for people who are visually impaired.

The author and disability activist from Greenwich lost his sight in 2013, and during lockdown has been trying to go out for walks with his guide dog Kika.

But Dr Patel said that he no longer feels safe going outside because people are failing to socially distance around him, stripping back his independence again.

Restricted by his disability, he said that in the last week so many people haven't even bothered to move, instead brushing past him, that he feels the pavements are now too busy to maintain social distancing.



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."

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said they were providing an "unprecedented" package of support to charities, with £750 million worth of funding for the sector.

But the DCC says this is "nowhere near enough to match the demand", it is unclear what else is available and that people with physical disabilities are particularly missing out.

Dr Patel 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."

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "We are working across Government to ensure that the needs of disabled people are carefully considered in our response to this pandemic and that they continue to feel supported throughout this uncertain time."

The spokesman added that the Government was providing an "unprecedented" package of support to ensure charities can help those who need it most.