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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Mum caring for daughter with disabilities speaks on life during Covid lockdown


single mother has told how she was forced to quit her job to look after her disabled daughter after support collapsed during the pandemic.

Emma Gardener, based in Watford, said she quit her role as a director at a top advertising agency to look after Dotty, who was born with STXBP, a rare disorder which stunts mental development and can cause epilepsy.

Ms Gardner, who now dedicates her time campaigning for more inclusivity, believes disabled communities are the “hidden victims” of the pandemic.

Her comments come as the treatment of the community since coronavirus took hold undergoes intense scrutiny. 

Emma started her own business called Born equal and campaigns for more inclusion and diversity

/ Emma Gardner

During the first lockdown up to 76 per cent of families with disabled children had all care support withdrawn, including physio and speech therapy, and 80 percent of parents reported their mental health had deteriorated, according to a survey by the Disabled children’s partnership (DCP).

It was during this period, when schools were completely shut, that the challenges faced by Ms Gardner were exacerbated.

“Dotty is seven-years-old but her development is closer to that of a two year-old which means she needs constant one to one care”, she told the Standard.

The 38-year-old, who started her own diversity business, Born Equal, after quitting her job, must lift, feed, bathe and dress her daughter as she is unable to manage on her own.

The pressures of balancing a demanding job and taking care of Dotty full-time sent her into a state of depression.

Dotty was born with STXBP

/ Emma Gardner

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