UK (Sky News)

Coronavirus: Harry praises families struggling to get ‘vulnerable’ status

By July 2, 2020 No Comments

The Duke of Sussex has praised the “super parents” of disabled children across the UK, as a leading children’s charity says some families are struggling to be classified as vulnerable during the coronavirus crisis.

Harry was speaking during a video call from California, to two families who are supported by the WellChild charity, which helps seriously ill children.

During the conversation, which took place over the Easter weekend, he called on politicians to give the families the recognition they deserve.

He said: “Full respect to every single one of you. This is hard on everyone, but it is especially hard on you. I know that WellChild are doing everything they can to support you.

“Hopefully, through this video we can make it more clear and obvious to government and everybody else that you are in the vulnerable bracket and WellChild needs more help.”

Many of the children helped by the charity receive incredibly complex medical care and sometimes need around the clock support.

The need for social isolation and a fear that their children may contract coronavirus is putting parents under enormous pressure.

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Talking about the difficulties that families are facing WellChild CEO Colin Dyer said: “Things like PPE have been in the news a huge amount, but other basic supplies are needed from food, to cleaning products.

“A lot of families are finding it difficult getting themselves included on ‘vulnerable’ lists. These families are always isolated and hidden. Now they are more isolated and more hidden than ever before.

“Getting recognition that they are among the most vulnerable people that we’ve got in this country is really tough because the focus just doesn’t seem to be on families like this.”

Craig Hatch from Cumbria was one of the parents on the call. He cares for his 21-year-old son Fraser, who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, neuro muscular scoliosis, osteoporosis, chronic lung disorder and type 1 diabetes.

He said: “It’s scary. We are frightened because we know that if the virus gets in our house and if Fraser contracts the virus, the implications are quite severe.”

Harry also spoke to Leanne Cooper from Lincoln, whose twin 13-year-old daughters Sophie and Erica both have complex needs. Sophie’s problems are the more severe and in 2011 she won a WellChild Award, which celebrate the inspirational qualities of the UK’s seriously ill children and young people.

Harry with the then five-year-old Sophie Cooper at the 2011 WellChild awards
Image:Harry with the then five-year-old Sophie Cooper at the 2011 WellChild awards

Mum Leanne said: “There is a lot of information out there, but not a lot for vulnerable families and certainly not for children with complex medical needs.

“If we’re in a position where carers can’t come to work because they might be symptomatic, there is no way we would survive when Sophie needs care seven nights a week, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It is terrifying.”

After speaking to the parents Harry asked if the children, who he’d previously met at the WellChild Awards, could also come on the call, telling their parents: “The resilience and strength that you guys have is absolutely incredible. And you must never ever forget that.

“And of course there are going to be hard days, I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is for you guys, having one kid, an 11-month-old, is enough.

“So, to see what you guys are going through on a day-to-day basis honestly so much respect to every single one of you. You are a shining example of just being super parents.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now living in California, with their son Archie, after first moving to Canada.

Meghan and Harry with winner William Magee at the 2019 WellChild awards
Image:Meghan and Harry with winner William Magee at the 2019 WellChild awards

Sky News understands Harry and Meghan have been in contact with a number of their patronages, as well as new charities to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through video calls and talking to volunteers they have been discussing how they may be able to support the organisations or highlight the challenges they are facing.

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