A WHEELCHAIR user has hit out at the Government for letting down people who were asked to shield from coronavirus, admitting she remains anxious about the possibility of leaving the house despite the easing of restrictions.

Kate Stanforth (26), of Stocksfield, suffers from ME and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and was one of around 2.5 million people in the UK told to shield indoors as they were classed as extremely vulnerable to the virus.

From June 1, vulnerable people were permitted to go outside with members of their household or a single person from a different household for the first time, but Kate said she still did not know how long it would be before she felt safe again.

She said: “Having multiple chronic illnesses means isolation is not a new thing for me. But throughout the pandemic, I feel like the most vulnerable, the people who need the greatest amount of support, have been the group who have been most let down.”

Kate claimed that updates for those shielding had been poor and it was only on the 11th week of lockdown that she received a call from a shielding service to check she was able to get food and medication.

“From having to go months without carers, to choosing who will get ventilators, there is no shadow of a doubt that disabled people have been neglected, yet again”, said the dancer and activist. “For many, the risk of having just over 1,000 recorded cases in Northumberland means that it is ok to carefully follow some of the new lifted restrictions. But for me, and many other shielders, the new lifting of our own restrictions feels unsafe and an afterthought.

“Of course I want go outside and see people. But getting the virus could be detrimental to me and since many charities have voiced their concern about the sudden easing of restrictions, with little evidence to support its safety, for now I will stay in my bubble.”

Kate has written to MP Guy Opperman to ensure the voices of Tynedale’s shielders were heard.

Mr Opperman said: “People who are shielding remain vulnerable, so it is vitally important they continue to be cautious and keep up to date with the latest guidance.

“I have continued to keep my website as current as possible in order to support local constituents. I have worked hard to make sure my website is a helpful and locally focussed point of access for all the relevant information and guidance.”

“And in addition to this, my team and I have directly helped and advised hundreds of local people who are navigating this crisis.”