Lancashire Times
A Voice of the North
The Secret Carer
Features Writer
9:38 AM 24th May 2020

You Are Not Fit To Run This Country

I am completely speechless at what I have witnessed at Sunday’s Coronavirus press briefing by the Prime Minister. Boris Johnson has insulted our intelligence, destroyed our trust, and undermined the nation’s commitment to stay home for the greater good. Not only that, by suggesting that Cummings’ child was ‘vulnerable’, he has demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of what vulnerability truly looks like.

Parents and carers of children with complex and severe medical conditions know all too well what vulnerable means. One young boy is no more vulnerable than any other child of any other family in this country. There are around 15 million children in the UK: are we to consider all of them vulnerable because they, or their parents, might catch Covid-19?

I can’t tell you the amount of times I have desperately needed help during lockdown, but I would never put my parents and family at risk by visiting them, even if they had the luxury of an annex.

From my personal perspective, my husband and I talked through what would happen should any of the family catch the virus. We have a letter from the NHS outlining that my son is likely to be extremely ill if he caught it. We also realised that if one of us got ill, we were all likely to get ill. And there have been countless times when I have sat and nursed my ill son when I have been desperately poorly myself. Every parent has no doubt done the same. That is what parents do.

And so if any of us had become ill with Covid-19, we would have self-isolated at home and somehow looked after ourselves and our son as best we could. We would not have been so selfish as to consider breaking the law, and the unequivocal government guidance, by driving long distances to our relatives, putting others at risk of harm.

But perhaps with the privilege of wealth and power you feel you can do whatever you want; the majority of carers do not have that luxury. Over the last decade, cuts to benefits, council budgets and social care provision have ensured that over 6 million carers—one million of whom look after disabled children—are struggling to cope with the financial burden. They are navigating a broken and unsympathetic benefits system. Their mental health is suffering. They have nowhere to run to for help.

So I say this to you, Boris Johnson:

I have a genuinely vulnerable child, with significant special needs and a severe medical condition. I have remained at home without ANY external help, as per your very clear guidance: Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. My mental health has suffered. I have had some extremely low moments when I have despaired of how I can get through another day. A friend of mine, also with a disabled son, broke down and wept when she was told she had to shield him for another twelve weeks. Your defence of Dominic Cummings is a joke and the nation knows it. You are no longer in touch with the people, if you ever truly were. Your actions are insulting and your words treat us with contempt, particularly those who have made huge sacrifices over and above what your advisor is prepared to make. You are not fit to run this country: step aside.