Sarah Clarke, mum to Harvey who is 13, and Phoebe who is 15, has spoken to BBC Woman’s Hour about the challenges facing her family since the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020.

While lockdown restrictions are set to ease in England on Monday 19 July, Woman’s Hour have dedicated time on the Thursday 15 July edition to the impact on people with disabilities, and their views on the upcoming changes.

Sarah, who Family Fund have supported with a grant for a family break, described just how difficult the last year has been for her family. Harvey and Phoebe are both on the autism spectrum and have additional conditions. Harvey has a spinal condition and severe hypermobility, and Phoebe has contamination obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Sarah said that, “It’s been a very challenging time for us. Freedom day, as they are calling it, brings a huge amount of anxiety for both of my children. We’ve decided, as a family, that we don’t want to put ourselves in a situation that would put any of us at risk of feeling uncomfortable or anxious.”

“My son doesn’t want to be going on day trips, or enjoying things that he would normally experience in the summer holidays if he has to wear a mask. I feel strongly that it is not the time for him to not wear a mask.”

“My daughter has OCD, and we want to respect how things are for her. For her peace of mind, she needs us to be safe. We would just limit what we do.”

When asked what she would say to others who are looking forward to the lifting of restrictions. “Be kind and be thoughtful. Be respectful of people’s decisions. Allow us to have the space that we want to have, and respect how challenging it is every single day.”

“It’s been incredibly difficult, but they are my children, and their needs come first. I have quiet time for myself, but it’s not been an easy time. A lot of the support that has been in place has been lost, though not through the fault of the providers. A lot of them a frustrated that they can’t support my children. I’m a lone parent, and I have to say, I’m not looking forward to this next bit.”

 

You can listen to the full programme here: BBC Woman's Hour 15 July Broadcast 

If you want to find out more about the impact of coronavirus on families raising disabled and seriously ill children, you can read our year-long report: The Impact of Coronavirus – A year in the life of families raising disabled children.

Do you have a story you want to tell? If you would like to speak about your experiences in the media of raising a child with disabilities and how Family Fund has helped, you can contact our Stories team at [email protected].